Thursday, 15 August 2019

Learning to Shine

This month has felt like a proper August month. Some days have been real scorchers with exceptional temperatures, we had an amazing storm, and it wouldn’t be right to have a British summer these days without some flooding. We should never under estimate the power of the weather, its tempestuous nature and ability to cause immense destruction. Then again neither should we underestimate the power in ourselves.
We are, as humans, incredible beings, our bodies and our minds, with such great potential. Sadly, however, I truly believe we are vastly under utilising all of this. Isn’t it a known fact that we only use ten per cent of our brains? In that way we probably use even less of our hearts, especially as few people really understand its emotional power let alone the fact that “the heart's electrical field is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the electrical activity generated by the brain” (HeartMath Institute)
I am constantly amazed at the upside down nature of the way our minds work. As a culture we know how amazing we are. We fully believe that we are extremely sophisticated in our understanding of the world and how we utilise and control it to our advantage. And yet we also completely aware of how out of kilter we are. 
I do believe that if we stopped trying to control our environment and started to collaborate with it; understand our relationship within this connection rather wanting to have a power over it, then we could exceed all our expectations.
The archetype pertaining to this month explains it very simply. We have, at our core an intelligence, we call it gut reaction. Scientifically there has been some study into the cells in our gut being like brain cells. The Eastern traditions link this power to our solar plexus, our 'power centre’, where we can connect to a deep understanding of our purpose and place in the world. When we open this inner conversation with ourselves we gain a sense of inner strength, like the lion in the jungle, king of his domain. With this strong sense of self-worth comes the knowledge that we are totally supported by the Universal energy and have no need to prove anything to anyone else. This is because, here we discover that we are all, in ourselves, enough. The pride turns to humility when we recognise we are all the same, all kings of our own universe, working together as individuals, in a larger body or community.
This sun-like energy is shown to us in the image of the sunflower, that comes out at this time, standing larger, taller and stronger than most other single flowers, the perfect reflection of the sun, here on Earth, shining in its own glory. This is an invitation for us all.
Marianne Williamson said it perfectly in her book A Return to Love and Nelson Mandela quoted her in his inauguration speech,

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us….We are all meant to shine, as children do… And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 
Now Marianne Williamson is doing just that in her presidential campaign; she is standing up and speaking her truth. It’s so powerful that much of the media in America is at a loss as to know how to deal with her. She is ahead of her time and we can only hope she will, just by her gentle ability to stand and shine, give others permission to join her in her campaign to stand for love. This might take some time to come to fruition, but I am confident that this is all about the perfect timing.
It is time to find our individual power, to stop giving it away to others who believe they have it. For it is those that assume power when they don’t understand its true meaning who then abuse that power, as it is not meant for wielding over others. 
We will only be able to harness a new way of being when we free ourselves from the bonds of self-created slavery, stop giving our power to those we think know better or we believe have claimed their right to it.
It is time to make a stand, reclaim our rights as equals and remember exactly who we are.
We are here to shine.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Journey to the golden city: Going Home

Journey to the golden city: Going Home: This month we are slipping into the ‘sweet spot’ of the summer and slowing our step as we feel the sun grind to a halt at the summer sol...

Friday, 12 July 2019

Going Home

This month we are slipping into the ‘sweet spot’ of the summer and slowing our step as we feel the sun grind to a halt at the summer solstice (sol-stice meaning sun stands still) and turns itself around. This heralds the shortening of the days and longer nights to come.
The solstice invites us to celebrate and value all that we are in this moment and asks us to remember who we are and where we came from. We are the sum total of all those who have come before us and I wonder what we have to show for it?
It is my belief that we learn far more from listening to our elders than by breaking away and forging new paths. The only reason, in my view,  this might not seem such a great idea, is because as we have not listened to our elders for so many generations, there is the illusion that the wisdom has run dry. 
It seems that communities around the Earth who still hold their elders in esteem, have remained steeped in their spiritual beliefs. They have emotional wisdom woven into the very core of their essential ways of being; whereas I feel that we only inherit knowledge rather than wisdom.
I have long held the belief that anyone, born into the culture of the Abrahamic religions, who is seeking a spiritual path elsewhere, will eventually have to come home. This has been my personal realisation and was delighted to hear recently that the Dalai Lama has said something similar.
I remember talking to a friend, born of Christian parents, about the idea that Krishna, whom he had been seeking for so many years, is simply the same God appearing in the Eastern culture under a slightly different pseudonym. If he is to make peace with himself he will have to heal the rift between himself and his Christian parents that sent him on this pilgrimage in the first place. That is the story of the Alchemist, who journeys to find that what he was seeking was waiting for him at home all the time. He would only discover this when he is was ready to return for it. That thing is, of course, love, of the most unconditional kind.
For me, the rift isn’t between ourselves and our parents but the what the religion has done to our understanding of God. I do believe there is a vast gap between Christ and the religion we now call Christianity and healing this divide is the imperative.
The Cancerian crab, with his hard shell exterior and soft under belly, is inviting us to choose, to use the shell as a barrier between ourselves and our feelings or to go to that vulnerable place and do the work. Sadly, the latter, which is the most needed and what we will eventually discover is the gold, is the least trodden path.
It seems to me that what we fail to reconcile, the pain that we carry down through the generations, causes us to reenact the story over and over again. We try to cover up this pain and protect ourselves with a hardening of our hearts, creating divisions within, between ourselves and our own innate ability to love.
This shows up as our society starts to break down and compartmentalises. We see the division in our families as we disengage, with extended families breaking down to such an extent that single parent families appear to be normal. We have also experienced the break down of our spiritual journey from one holistic expression of God, even though he might have many different faces, to a completely divided church, with new denominations springing up with each new age. 
I believe it started with Cain and Abel. When (and of course I am talking metaphorically) Adam and Eve were thrown out the Garden of Eden, thinking it was a judgement of their wrong doing, it created a judgement of our head over our hearts. This was played out as sibling rivalry in the extreme and has run like a river all the way down through the millennia, till this time.
I believe, this is actually just our path around the galaxy, the human race as a whole on the Alchemist’s five thousand (or even twenty-six thousand) year journey, physically moving away and returning to the vibration that is God.
It is time and we are now being asked to choose to turn around, to find our power and recognise that it lies where we might least expect it. It lies in our vulnerability where, just like the sun that can change direction, we can discover and truly feel love and come home.

The question is, are you willing to forgive yourself and all those who have come before you? If we all, or at least enough of us to create a tipping point, said ‘yes’, I believe we would change this world over night.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Letting the Jester In?

Thank goodness its summer, now we can all bask in the long summer days and enjoy the fruits of nature’s banquet. I am not usually one for sarcasm but what has happened to our weather?
Luckily for us, we are have been very slow to feel the effects of any issues in our weather system or even any effects of our lifestyle. I am certainly not complaining. We are not feeling the waters rising over our land, violent tsunamis wreck our homes, or the catastrophic effects of nuclear disasters, as so many have already endured. So any subtle changes in our lives are not as yet calling us to action. What will it take to choose change?
The archetype that we can choose to connect with at this time of year is Mercury, the winged messenger. He is also the trickster. The archetype is alive and kicking in many older traditions, particularly the first nation peoples of America. However, sadly he has been lost in our culture today.
To immediately contradict myself, I can also see that he is emerging in unusual ways. When we had our general elections in 2010 and Cameron and Clegg created their coalition, I almost did a double-take as the Gemini twins appeared on the TV screen. It did not escape me that these two were also born in the same Chinese calendar year, twins indeed. It reminded me of how our political system is riddled with liars and tricksters.
It didn’t take long for America to find the jester in their culture to find his way to the top. This new president is a shining example of what happens when we install in our youth, the rhetoric that you can achieve anything you want. When we disregard the consequences, and put personal desires over the good of the country we find we have placed a Homer Simpson style mindset in the driving seat. 
Now in our constant desire to follow America, like an anxious puppy, we too are putting a jester in the leading role. Here again we have the twins, I can’t believe they look alike as well, just like Cameron and Clegg, waving at each other across the pond. Of course many of us saw this coming but to see it actually playing out for real has to be the biggest joke we can play on ourselves. 
I always like to see the opportunity in every situation. I have also felt that when we stop taking ourselves too seriously, stop thinking we’re the best and most important in the world, then we will start to grow up as a nation. Maybe this is our chance. Like the bully who thinks everyone likes them, we may have to sink to the lowest point, go through our own dark night of the soul to come through this smiling.
I have spoken before about being open to change, as change is the only thing that can be relied on. We would do well to first make an internal shift. If enough people can do this, and often the shift can be very subtle, the external changes can be much easier and so far more dynamic. 
I heard two stories recently. The first story, which I first heard in my junior school assembly, was about the difference between heaven and hell and how they initially appear the same. We are given a vision of a great banquet with spoons that are far too long to manoeuvre and eat with. In hell everyone is starving but in heaven everyone is helping each other by feeding each other and so well fed and content.
In the second story it was revealed to me how people are feeling that they are being controlled and enslaved in poverty by the principles of globalisation, free trade and open borders which they are told will prevent us from keeping our sovereignty and sense of national identity. This, naturally, frightens people into losing their usual generosity of spirit and creates a narrowing of the mind.
However, it is only a story. For me, the notion of globalisation and open borders tells a tale that frees ourselves from limitations, enriching our society and strengthening our sense of self and individuality.
I find it fascinating how one story, or image, can open up completely opposing emotions depending on your standpoint. The difference of a fear based view point rather than an open-hearted can turn a vision of heaven into a hell. At the moment we live in a world where both perspectives exist and also the effects of both. How should we mind the gap, walk from a state where fear seems to carry more energy than love and turn it on its head? That is for us to explore. It is an unknown but I don’t believe it is unknowable.
What is needed here is a revisioning of our future by re-examining our history. If we want to make positive changes it is important to understand and recognise our wealth and strengths rather than seeing only our weakness and lack. We might do well to listen to the ones who are playing the role of the trickster for us so we can choose to see through the fake news and find our own truth. That’s what this archetype is really trying to show us. When we listen to the still voice within and stop listening those who are trying to keep us undermined and living in the small version of our potential, then we can start choosing positive change.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

The Turning of the Tide

Imagine if tomorrow everyone woke up remembering that our individual responsibility is not just for ourselves but for our whole community, and that our community and the way we live has an impact far beyond the reaches of our towns, cities an even our nation. What if we felt not only responsible for ourselves as a global community but that this responsibility extended to the environment knowing that we are a part of it and an intrinsic part at that.
This is the basic premise on which I wish to base my project that I have called PIPPA (People in Positive Politics Association). When I asked somebody if they might be interested in supporting me, they told me they weren’t really interested in politics, only in supporting their community. This shows me how much our system is broken; that the two have become so separate and our politics in such disarray, people don’t feel it has a place their community any more. 
Actually it cannot be separated, politics is how we organise our society, but party politics has forgotten that. I feel the ‘party’ is well and truly over. It is time to grow up and take stock. I am not saying that everyone in the party political system has lost their way, I am saying that the system is out of date and so the people trying to do good from within it, are being stifled by it. I believe it’s time to break free.
As information becomes ever more available to all we would do well to remember that although knowledge is vital, how we use it is key and that requires wisdom. I am not convinced our political system reflects this. 
There are people who have lived on our planet for eons sustainably and respectfully. They understand that the Earth has its own innate wisdom, greater and more complex than anything we can understand in our minds. We have not only forgotten the ethos these people uphold but have completely devalued them as a race at best and annihilated them at worst. 
I believe that now is the time to look to this wisdom and be prepared to learn from them. But I also believe that is still a wisdom we know. For some it has become clear again, but others may have to dig deep as it has become buried beneath what our society has pushed on us for centuries.
Every moment in our lives is the sum total of all that has been before it but never has this felt more poignant than now. As I sense the tide is finally beginning to turn, I know I am not alone when I say that I have been waiting for this for many years,
As events grew in intensity over the last month, the peaceful rebellion that descended on London, but also all around the world, marked a significant moment of change. Extinction Rebellion might have grown out of nowhere but the energy behind it has been building for years. With the tragic loss of the Ecocide warrior Polly Higgins the metaphorical baton seemed to be almost immediately passed to the young Greta Thunberg. She took this on, along with the political elite of the country, completely in her stride. She has set a new standard showing us how the everyman/woman can be politically engaged.
However, talk is cheap. How can we really start to turn our ship around, look the pollution of our waters, the devastation of our rainforests, the melting of our ice-caps squarely in the face and choose change?
This will not happen by simply passing a few laws, a few companies divesting from the use of fossil fuels and a few less plastic bags being thrown away. This runs deep. We have to reinvent ourselves and our relationship to our beautiful Earth.
Six years ago a young South American fourteen year old boy went to talk to the UN. The message he brought was not that we had to save the Earth but that we need to save ourselves. This sage would have to wait some years for his wisdom to be heard. 
Change can only come when enough energy has been generated and there is a critical mass, enough of a shift in people’s hearts, for it not to be met with resistance. When we truly understand our role here, find the humility needed, we will remember that we are a cog in a wheel of a mechanism that only works when it is in balance. 
I am the eternal optimist, ever confident that we will find our way, but how we get there, how we bridge the gap is the unknown, the challenging but interesting aspect of the journey. Awareness and respect for everyone, starting with oneself feels like a good starting point and my book of the month, Bergman’s Utopia For Realists, has been mind expanding for me. He talks of all the various studies on poverty that have already been carried out and almost implemented. Knowing that we could have been living in a completely different landscape, an alternative reality, had they been brought in, intrigues me.
It is clear that keeping people in wealth and good health costs far less than allowing people to slip into the terrible states that poverty creates. The costs to the state become huge in policing, hospitals and prisons. It is important to remember that the mental anguish is not limited purely to all those concerned here but to society as a whole. This is not only immeasurable in terms of the suffering felt and so beyond financial evaluation. Even more ironic is the fact that the rich suffer more emotionally too.
I can only ask, when are we going to realise that we don’t have to continue like this? When are we going to stop under valuing ourselves as a community and start thinking big, thinking collectively and open-heartedly?

Monday, 8 April 2019

Lighting the Spark

As it’s spring, I believe it’s time to begin. I have spent the last eight months building myself up to launch my project, but after all this time of talking about it I am still only ready to launch its conception not its birth. However, maybe it is important that the idea is born and gestated for a while before any action can begin.
I have called the project PIPPA - People in Positive Politics Association and its fundamental and main tenor is to take the ‘party’ out of politics and put the people back in. 
If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard people - young or old, completely indifferent or interested in the subject - say how our political system is broken and no longer serves us (as if at one point it did?!) I would have many pennies. It seems like the topic of the moment and it has picked me up and swept me on a new journey whether I am ready, like it or not.
My dream is to create a body of people who are willing to support this change and eventually I know this will involve everyone. It is likely, however, that it will draw politicians and people interested and already working in that sector first, but as I believe we will start to see the structure that we have upheld for generations crumble, we will also see that it is up to all of us to pick up the baton and create something new that works for all and engages everyone.
Obviously, not everyone will engage at first, but I hope that it will initially draw enough people from all walks of life to set it in motion. Diversity is the key to what makes this new method of working function in a sustainable way.
Even though I feel I am stepping into the unknown, I also feel that everything in our world, as well as my own, has brought us to this point where this is not only absolutely possible, but necessary and inevitable.
The shift in the relationship between the people that make up our society and those we have allowed to take control and power over us has changed beyond recognition. The arrival of the Internet to connect us and the knowledge that we have all played a part in the destruction of our ecosystem brings us to a pivotal point. I do not believe in blame or judgement here but I feel the key factor is that if we have played a part in damaging the planet then equally, we have the power to repair the damage done. However, it is important that we stand up and choose to take action now.
I want to create a political environment that puts life first, a system that works in connection with everyone and everything on this Earth. A system that is sustainable in all ways, that serves us and is served by us. This is not what we have at the moment; what we have is out-dated and no longer fit for purpose.
It is understood that humanity only changes when we find ourselves confronted with no alternative; a combination of complacency and extreme anxiety has prevented us from stepping forward until this moment of necessity. So although the majority of people are not in a position to act, I believe there are enough who are.
I want to play my part but although every birth is a personal experience I also know I can’t do this work alone. So over the next few months I will be putting this idea into a thing of substance while putting out a call for people to join me.
I wish to stress that what I am offering here is not something new. It’s happening all over the country and all over Europe and beyond and Citizen’s Assemblies lie at the heart of this new landscape. 
Frome is a leading light in many ways, having its own independent Town Council and acting as a beacon as many towns are starting to follow. So I feel perfectly placed to work alongside what is happening here to provide a hub, a link and a springboard for sustenance and growth.
I am intending to start locally first and then broaden my reach and join forces with other organisations already looking to make important changes for our future.

If you feel inclined, please get in touch.

Friday, 8 March 2019

A Gentle Evolution

Spring is approaching and all the hope that new growth brings is stirring in my heart. I can’t believe that after decades of cynicism and disenchantment that morphed into dreams of utopia and wild optimism, I finally feel like I've arrived in a place of quiet but realistic confidence.
I have no idea what the future will bring but I do feel change is on its way. Of course, it is not a widely held belief and the media will be the last to tell us, but I can see the small shoots of shifting paradigms sprouting up everywhere I look. You just have to search for them in places you may not have looked before.
I have been told that some of the huge ships that cross our oceans have rudders that have a small rudder set inside the main one. Before the ship can change direction the small one has to be aligned in the right direction first. This is true for any great change and if our society is going to achieve anything positive we have to set our internal rudders for the right course before we make any outward shifts. Although I believe this is happening on a global scale, it is only just visible on the small scale. This is how positive change succeeds.
People are beginning to wake up to the power we hold as individuals when we act as a community. The strength of the group is more than the sum of its parts.
We have remained in a state of believing we are separate from and in conflict with each other for centuries as governments and dictators have upheld the ‘divide and rule’ doctrine. This has kept fear and hatred alive in our hearts.
Now, everything is set for change to bring us all together. Science discovered the world of quantum mechanics and this has brought us a greater understanding of the hidden, mysterious workings of the universe. It has also given us the technology to create the Internet. Global communication, although many people believe it has brought us more shadow than light, has actually shown us how we have more in common than not. 
Those still clinging onto the fear are shouting louder than most as the wind is being removed from their sails, making it seem as though there are many more than there actually are. Those who are finding their way are quietly and gently going about their business. It is up to those who trust and believe in the power of the many to stay strong and keep walking forwards positively, united, and with love in their hearts. 
There are many ways in which this is happening but I am particularly interested in the shift in political power. I understood change would only come up from the grass roots. Our political establishment was formed many centuries ago from a society that was ruled by the old to keep control of its large, younger population. This has now shifted and the percentage of old people has grown so that the mean age of the rulers now matches the mean age of the populace. We are now in the position of being able to rule ourselves. 
Citizen’s Assemblies are proving that this is possible. Not only are they proving that they work, but they are proving that they work where our existing political structure is completely failing us.
On February the 14th Stella Creasy was asked to put her views on citizens’ assemblies to the panel of Andrew Neil’s television programme This Week. Unfortunately she was up against two, or three if you count Andrew Neil, patronising men very fixed in their belief of the necessity our party political structure. 
I believe, party politics has come to the end of its road and no longer serves anyone except those who have the money to exploit it or simply do well by it. As the system creates a huge divide between those who have and those who do not, the power and the money is put in the hands of fewer and fewer people, who become increasingly out of touch of the realities of day-to-day life for the many.
Creasy is trying to make changes from within the political structure, and I would normally say that this is always the best place to be. However, in this instance, Portillo just saw the whole subject as a ruse to play the Remain card against the Brexit. Of course, caught up in his narrow vision of two party politics he cannot see beyond the binary view he works within.
Citizen’s Assemblies come from a stance of no preset agendas or outcomes and certainly no investment gains to be made. It is made up of a group of people of completely diverse backgrounds, the more diversity the better, with experts on hand, and where everybody’s voice is heard. It does not ask for ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers but comes up with best solutions formulated over time with facilitated, calm discussion. This is grown-up politics, not the ridiculous theatrical farce we see on television from our House of Commons. 
Although, England’s politicians may be slow on the uptake, fearful of losing their position in society, Europe is picking up the baton and starting to run with it. A precedent was set in Ireland and now Belgium and Spain have put some assemblies in place as a permanent fixture alongside their councils.
Maybe there is a feeling that Britain is lagging behind but in 2015 Sheffield and Southampton both set up an assembly to look at constitutional change, asking the question ‘how should we be governed?” What has come from this? It feels like they were testing the water but no one has been bold enough to make it part of the political structure. The UK is certainly not short of assemblies being set up. A new group has formed in Bideford out of a concern that people are felt that are not being listened to and two London borough councils are going to run an assembly, but these are generally about asking the community what they think, not as an alternative to the way our politicians make decisions. Other than these toe-dipping exercises where are we going with this?
Although this might sound like impatience, I am actually quietly content that this is the best way forward; a slow but steady growth of political change that doesn’t upset any apple carts, no revolutions, just an easing into position of a new system that works so that when the old one crumbles we have something ready to take its place. No one really wants to run before they can walk!
For those still set on being right against anyone they consider to be wrong at any cost, there is a poem written by the Sufi mystic, Rumi, a thirteenth century Persian poet. 
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there.” In searching for this quote i found another:
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Sometimes it is wise to listen to and be guided by those from times past, before stepping into an unknown future. But I believe it’s time to find a new way forward rather than to keep relying on old methods that truly no longer serve us.
Let’s get creative together.