Effective Strategies to help you Cope if things have got Tough, and also
to help you re-engage Joyfully with life and make Practical Plans for further
Goals. This is especially slanted to suit mums, but is helpful for anybody.
by Julia Woodman – Life Coach, Counsellor, Stress Consultant, and Writer
How about keeping a special book to write down lists, notes, responses and observations as
you go along. This is a special record of things you will want to know where to find and refer
back to easily from time to time.
If you are setting out on this journey with young children, then use a large scrapbook for them
as well. Encourage them to explore the world around them and draw and stick things into their
scrapbook as they go.
Make the best of what you have. List all the good things about and around you, and focus
on appreciating them by referring to your list every day. This should include :
• Things about yourself (assets, skills, attributes – for example, you might have child care skills,
be a good cook, a loyal partner, have beautiful hair, strong arms, be friendly, have a great sense
of humour, good health, good home, job that fits around family so that you can be there for them,
considerate, helpful, creative)
• Things about your friends and family etc – listing each person separately is probably best
(very similar to above, including things like: loving partner you can communicate well
with, great children, sensible teenager, friends you can chat at ease with, parent you can
ask for help, practical brother, understanding boss, etc.)
• Things about your surroundings ( beautiful hills and valleys you can walk in, rivers to fish
or swim in, amazing flowers or butterflies you can look at or smell or draw or photograph,
places to go out and listen to music and dance, gym, martial arts or yoga etc classes,
seaside for watersports, swimming pool, good school, other kids that your kids can
spend time with, good weather for growing your crops or veg etc, access to good health
support, libraries, college, jobs, etc.)
You can also refer back to this list to make sure you remember to make use of
the good stuff – for example, keep a diary perhaps to just take note of inspiring
things at any time, and to draw in or write poems in about the beautiful things
in any wild spaces you visit.
You might like to cook a special meal for your partner or family or even just for yourself,
find ways to ensure that you keep up with your friends (even if just via the internet if they
are far away), find fun ways to keep fit, set aside time for good movies or comedy shows
or music events, access resources and knowledge available, play games with your friends
and family, etc. Remember to give praise to partners and children when you can.
When taking walks or going on trips with your children it is great to point out how things
work along the way, and show them the beautiful details in nature, encourage them to
draw or write about it, or stick things in their scrapbooks, such as leaflets about where
you have been. You could help them draw a flower or leaf, and then press it between the
pages of a heavy book in greaseproof paper (which keeps it more vibrant than tissue paper).
Then later on when it has dried you can compare it to the drawing, maybe even
stick it into the scrapbook next to the drawing.
“Beauty is alive in every moment, riding the breath of life
Young children can understand a lot more than we tend to think, and it is crucial to keep
their curiosity, sense of wonder, and thirst for knowledge alive. You too can enjoy their
delight if you help them for example by using illustrated information books. It is
wonderful if you can put on a little act and exclaim with delight or awe at some of the
Effective communication is vital, whether it be at work, or with family, children, or
friends. Be prepared to ensure that you have your fair say in a respectful way. Again, it
is good to write things down in preparation so that you are clear about what the most
important one or two things you want to discuss are, and don’t muddy the waters with all
sorts of vague bits and pieces. I do have more detailed articles and videos about
communication available via my website www.radiance-solutions.co.uk
Let go of small things that niggle at you by concentrating on being grateful for the good
things. What does the other stuff matter by comparison? We all know that no one is
perfect, so let’s stop expecting them to be. If you give praise for the good stuff it will
make everybody (including yourself) feel more willing to try to be their best.
List the knowledge and skills that you already have, and appreciate those too.
These are the building blocks of your life. No thing is too small, so put them all down.
If you are lacking in confidence then use affirmations to help build this up.
There are also some of these available via my website.
You can also learn to write your own – they must always be written in the present tense.
A wonderful affirmation that helps balance your mind, body, and spirit because it aligns
you with the earth and the universe (both of which crucially allow and support life) is to
simply say “I love, and I am loved”. You need to be comfortable, take a few deep
breaths to relax and focus, and then say this aloud and feel that it is true. Your
relationship with the universe and with the earth is fundamental to who you are. Be at
ease with yourself, and let the energy flow up and down your spine as you stand upon the
earth, holding your head steady, repeating this until you know that it is true.
When we are balanced, it is easy for others to love us, because we hold a steadiness in
our hearts and do not react to trivial things. You are regaining your connection with the
deep self and the real world beneath all the crazy stuff and meaningless rules we have
piled on it. Breathe deeply and feel yourself to be more free.
As you progress through all these ideas here and in some of my other materials, you will
find that your confidence increases quite naturally. You have to know that you are
worth it. Everyone has an equal right to live their lives as they choose because each one
of us is a vital part of the overall diversity of life and consciousness. You are a unique
human being come to experience life on this planet so you should aim to learn from
everything, even what we would normally term as negative because the most challenging
things usually have the most potential to teach us stuff. Even illness can be viewed as the
body trying to show us that it needs attention, so once you start listening to that and doing
something about it, you are taking the positive steps you need to. It is your life, and you
have the power to choose to make it good for you. You should not be afraid to follow your
heart and fulfil your dreams, don’t listen to people who tell you otherwise, or to any
niggling doubts in your ego mind.
Our minds can be used as tools to help us help ourselves, instead of allowing
ourselves to be subjected to some of the silly thoughts, fears, and worries that tend to go
round in our heads if we let them. Stop listening to that sort of negative stuff and focus on
the positive. Think about it – worry is a total waste of energy because it does not achieve
anything productive. All it does is show us that perhaps we need to take care to prepare
for whatever it is we are worrying about or fearing, so that we can face it instead of letting
it knock us down. Fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real – usually if we just
get on and do what we are afraid of, then we find it is all fine after all – so we need to learn
to stop our minds getting in the way, and use them instead to help us move forwards.
By making these lists of all the good stuff, we can then remind ourselves of things to
inspire and motivate us. We can say “AHHHH YES I CAN DO THIS. Look – I already
have some of the skills, and I can learn the rest, and find out what I need to know and do
to be successful.” You can learn to follow your heart to be who you truly want to be.
If you feel stressed or depressed, then look for my articles that can help with such
issues, which are again available on my website www.radiance-solutions.co.uk
There is a full Stress Busting guide available too. Don’t let these things steal your power,
learn how to deal with them! I also have some simple visualizations to help you relax, but
meditation is even more powerful, so if you are prepared to put in the work, go for my
full meditation guide, and you should be well rewarded for your efforts. Meditation takes
you into a sense of bliss that arises from a combination of personal and universal power.
Promise yourself that you are going to stop beating yourself up about anything –
you are doing the best you can for the moment, and as you find out how best to move forward,
you will continue to be doing the best that you can in each moment. Of course, as you
learn and plan and achieve, that best will be better than it was before, and you can
congratulate yourself for every step that you take. Meantime just do not expect too much
from yourself, we can only do what we can, given the tools we have in each moment.
Don’t judge yourself (or others) – each moment is only one step on our journey. Even
if you take a step backwards, don’t waste time and energy on berating yourself for that, just
get back on the track.
Everyone needs a bit of space to themselves once in a while, so ensure that you
do get this, and don’t let anyone else make you feel that you can’t take it – we need to rest
and renew ourselves, recharge our energy. We all have different ways of doing this, so
plan for it as part of your life, just don’t overdo it – there is a big difference between taking
time out now and again to do something inspiring, and withdrawing or retreating from
things. It should be time to do something positive for yourself….. yes if you need to sleep,
then sleep, but ideally you could meditate or read or write or draw or play music, go for a
walk, visit a friend, or do anything you love.
Meditation is fantastic for regaining and strengthening our deeper sense of self.
It can also be used as a tool to train our minds to do what we want instead of getting in our way.
Plan lists of anything else you want to learn or achieve – You can come back to this
later, it is just to get your thoughts clear for now Don’t just think about work, think about
hobbies, enjoyment etc too, anything that might help you (and your partners, and
children, if you have them) have more fun. Obviously sometimes you may need to do
things on your own, but this can be planned for – if you really want to do it, make sure
you put it on your list, don’t leave anything off or limit yourself just because your logical
mind says it isn’t practical!
Writing all these things down helps to give them more potential. If you faithfully
make your lists as suggested, then you will find it useful to refer back to them to remind
yourself of your thoughts and renew your positive motivation. Another main factor about
writing all these things down is that it clarifies your intentions, which helps you focus on
what you want. If our minds are less muddled then we are simply much more likely to
follow what we have set down, so this focus removes the muddle and sets you on track.
We can go a stage further and use life coaching charts to actually make step by step
plans of how we are going to get from point A to B. These are different from the
lists above, because these exercises here are looking at your whole life really, whereas in
life coaching plans you need to focus on one or two specific areas – for example how to get
to do what you want at college, how to plan to move country, how to give up a bad habit,
how to save or pay off debts, how to get fit or lose weight, how to basically achieve any
goal we choose to.
We make the steps along the way realistic and achievable alongside time frames that
again are realistic and achievable. We also add in details like who is going to help or
support you where help is needed, for example you may need a child-minder so that you
can attend college, or you might just need to be able to phone someone up for moral
support if you are feeling tired and demoralised. Or you might just be able to refer back
to your book where you have written your list of reasons for doing this in the first place
to regain your sense of motivation. In any case, your plan will also include rewards for
achievement along the way to help keep up your motivation. We need to bear in mind
that any cycle of change is bound to have slight setbacks once in a while as it is normal to
feel very motivated to start with then run out of steam a bit if things get tough, but the
thing is just to get back on up and on with it again as soon as you are ready, and not waste
time and energy regretting the setback. If we are prepared well enough, then we will
have the support in place to help us get back on track. I have life coaching charts
available on www.radiance-solutions.co.uk/essenceguides3.htm so that you can use them
yourself if you wish to.
If you want to find something to do and you are not sure what that is yet, then I do also
have a system included in my Life Coaching packages to help you tap your
subconscious to identify what you most want. This might help mums returning to
work or mothers whose children have left home, for example, to decide what sort of a career
or business they might want to go for, or define what hobbies or college course might suit
someone. Again, this is on my website www.radiance-solutions.co.uk/essenceguides3.htm
I also love to help Young People and have specific materials available about communication
with them, and helping them to make the transition into adulthood.
I have other guides such as ‘Confirming your Joy’, as well as the Meditation and Stress Busting
ones, all available via www.radiance-solutions.co.uk/essenceguides.htm There are ones
related to Creativity, and Spirituality, and Evolving Consciousness as well.
Creativity is not just about the generally recognised arts, it includes all sorts of
things, like cooking, sewing, woodwork, gardening, flower arranging, decorating, you name it,
we all have some creativity in us. Creativity is also often an outcome of curiosity, which
children usually have in abundance, so looking at things around you can naturally lead on to
creating something in relation to that.
Creativity helps you express yourself, and your appreciation of life. Both of those
help add to your sense of confidence and satisfaction because you are interacting more
with the world around you through your creativity, which also involves a deep level of
noticing details. So I always advocate that people watch other people, animals, plants,
anything at all, and really note the finer details of behaviour, natural beauty, and the
amazing diversity of life, the interaction between things, and also how things function so
incredibly well – including our own bodies. It is equally inspiring to know that even if
we may not function that well all the time, we can always do something about helping
ourselves return to our optimum state.
More details of the HELPFUL LIFE COACHING TOOLS
available hereThere are some specific pointers in there that will be helpful to Mums returning to
work, plus an example form called “Improving Belief in Self as Parent and as having
Valuable Skills & a Right to a Career of Own Choosing”.Life Coaching Pack of All 3 Achievable Goal Planning Sections
How to Maximise Success, Help to Decide, and all FORMS £6.50
(which gives a saving of 50p on buying them separately as detailed below).
[The sections are also available separately so that people who don’t need the “help to
decide” section can save by just buying the other two. And sometimes people just want
the “help to decide” section and then take it from there themselves because they might
already know about life coaching, but that is a unique extra developed by me. Or people
might just want to use my forms and look at my examples, although I do obviously
recommend looking at the 2nd section too, as there is so much useful information in it.]
Life Coaching 1 How to HELP yourself DECIDE WHAT you really want to do £1.50Help with deciding on your goals in the first place. It’s best to get really clear before you
begin the planning stage so that you don’t waste time and effort.
For example, you could be trying to decide which course to study, what to do as a career
(or change of career), or for a hobby etc, but you can also apply it to any decision you
are not sure about (like moving home, ending a relationships, travelling etc).
We do sometimes subconsciously block our own progress, particularly if we are not sure
what we want, or if we don’t have enough self esteem or confidence in ourselves.
Life Coaching 2 HOW TO develop achievable Goal Plans, and put realistic
Includes details of what to think about before starting your plan.
Life Coaching 3 Goal Setting FORMS £3
Includes blank form for your use, plus a tutor form with guidelines on,
Examples include: 1) paying off debts, 2) losing weight and getting fit alongside study
I really hope that this has been helpful, and that anyone interested in planning to achieve
goals will take the next step and get the life coaching packs, but please do also feel
free to phone or email with any questions, or if you would like further support.
Whatever choices you make
Lighter than this, Freeer than this – getting into the ZONE –
by Julia Woodman – Stress Consultant, Life Coach, Counsellor, and Writer
There is a system called Mentastics, which is short for Mental Gymnastics,
founded by Milton Trager in America. This system helps people to relearn how to move well after they have suffered restrictions in their movements.
There are many specific movements, but it can also be used to help anyone
move gently to stretch their bodies in ways that feel intuitively right. The main
mental side of it is to “hook up” the mind with the body in a dynamic yet peaceful
state. This can be triggered simply by thinking the questions “What can be
lighter than this? What can be free-er?, and your body and mind respond by doing
things in a less tense or forced way, becoming naturally lighter and free-er
“Hook up” is similar to getting into the zone.. It really is amazing what can be achieved.
These simple mind : body linking questions can be used to help with many things :
• Sport optimise your performance. Get into the zone, where you are lightly
focused, not trying to force things, and your body can seem to fly.
• Study – learn faster with light concentration. Trying too hard can get in the way.
Playing music in the background is often helpful. Find ways to have fun, for
example you could sing acronyms to help you remember lists. You could even do
your own light body movements to reinforce memory. It will seem much easier
• Before exams feel more relaxed and confident. Use the questions to entrain
your mind to relax and just get on with it instead of worrying.
• Before public speaking feel centred. Take a few deep breaths, and use the
questions and feel your body grounding to the earth and becoming calm.
• Before Interviews – feel ready to do your best, by following the same pattern as
above. Of course, make sure you arrive well prepared too.
• Debate – be relaxed but on the ball during debates. Again, these questions just
magically help you get into the zone where you can function optimally.
• Argument Prevention – don’t get over excited, think before you speak or act, it
saves a lot of embarrassment later. If you remember the questions, these will help
you pause instead of doing anything silly.
• Wellbeing – let your body fine tune itself and tell you if it needs anything. If you
do those intuitive movements, you are tuning into your body, so that you are
listening to it, and responding to its needs. You can do it lying or standing still
too. Just take your deep breaths, ask the questions, and focus inwards gently.
• Confidence Boosting before social activities. If you are a not usually too at ease
around other people, this will all help. It will probably also help you play better
pool, darts, bowls, etc.
• Managing Stress at work or home. If a situation arises, what better way to
immediately lift yourself above it instead of getting sucked or dragged down.
• Managing Anger anywhere. Keep yourself out of trouble by using these
questions to just help you stop and lighten up instead of react.
[We also have an anger management video on YouTube. And others.]
• Managing Habits – it can be easier than you might think to change habits! Every
time you want to transgress, you can use these questions to remind yourself how
good it feels to not be at the mercy of your habits, and rise above them, taking
control of your life by doing what you choose to do instead.
• Overcoming Fears. Any fears can be stilled if you “hook up” your mind and
body, and feel the dynamic yet peaceful connection. Breathe deeply but gently
and feel the power and peace flowing through your veins.
• Overcoming doubts, anxiety, and worry. Again, use the questions to just remind
yourself that everything is okay really. If you feel good, you can easily face stuff.
Worry etc are totally useless things anyway, they don’t help you understand or
cope with anything, they just get in the way, so don’t let them steal your energy.
Stop worrying about how things might appear to others and just be yourself.
• Forgiveness – letting go of what has been hurting you. If someone else hurt you
then you need to forgive yourself for holding onto it for so long as well as forgive
them. Claim back your power by using these questions to boost your sense of
lightness and freedom, and just let yourself see that there is no point in holding
onto things that have been giving you grief.
• Letting Go of Past Issues. Again, these issues and worries need not hurt you
anymore today. Ask yourself the two questions, and let them slip away. The
power and the peace infusing your body helps your mind to know that you are
ready to move on with new things, and the past is no longer needed.
Take an imaginary shower to clear & cleanse yourself. If you are letting go of stuff then
this is an extra visualisation you can use to just help clean away the last remnants of what
you no longer need, whether it be past issues, pain, old beliefs, negativity, bad habits, etc.
You know you can now move beyond these. Just let the water wash away anything you
don’t need from both inside and outside of you. That’s why it has to be the imagination rather
than a real shower, but there is no reason why you can’t do it in the real shower anyway, and
just imagine the internal bit.
No matter how squeaky clean you might come out of your shower, don’t forget about
these magic questions you may need them for other things still. Let them help you live
to the best of your ability. Even just walking down the street, they can help you feel at
one with the world whenever you remember them.
See details of our Meditation Guide.
See details of our Stress Busting Guide.
In response to a blog about young people self harming despite
their parents trying to do everything right, and questioning if
there is too much stress with lots of homework and other things
they have to do, another person wrote that young people these days
seem to be given things on a plate and organised too much. I made
a further response to this:
Most people I know of my generation did have very bad things going
on when they were kids, but somehow we were tough enough to deal
with them, although they do still affect us, obviously. We never expected
to be given things on a plate, we were brought up to think for ourselves,
and to be versatile, and figure out our own ways of coping.
Yes, children now are often organised so much to fit into a system but it is becoming
obvious that there are things wrong with that system, so perhaps we should be helping
our young people become more able to cope with challenges and changes instead of
channelling them into specialised paths quite so much.
By the way, we had 2hrs of homework every day right through high school because I
was boarding, there was no choice but to go to the homework period between supper
and lights out not to say that I actually DID homework though I mostly wrote poetry!
I used to swim 50 olympic lengths before school and before dinner every day, and do
long distance running but it was all very definitely MY choice to do these things. I
think I still had some time to muck about with my friends, but I only got to see my
parents one weekend a month from age 11. When I was home, I used to wander about in
the wilderness most of the time though, so it must have been when I was very young that
the free thinking and versatility stuff was instilled in me unless I was just born that way.
There is a lot more that I wanted to say though :
We know that giving kids things on a plate tends to make them self-centred, and less able
to cope, yet this still happens. ‘Love’ so often then becomes a sort of ‘cupboard love’
which depends on the visiting relative or friends giving gifts or providing really fun days
out, so it also teaches them to be devious! This can especially apply when couples have
separated the children can soon learn how to get things from each parent by turning it
into a sort of competition if you aren’t careful. If one parent, or a friend, decides not to
play this game they can find themselves ‘dropped’ just like that.
And yes, children are organised so much to fit into the system study hard, get a job,
get a mortgage, have a family, accumulate things, and continue the cycle into the next
generation. Do we ever question whether there could be another way of not being
slaves to the ‘system’, which we can easily see has its problems if we stop long enough to
think. So many people are not really thinking though, because in their limited spare time
they seem to be sucked into the TV, which tells you a carefully concocted version of
reality that’s very different from the real thing (newspapers too), or the pub where they
can numb their thinking with drink and superficial conversation, or more business deals.
I suspect that some of our young people are having trouble understanding why we go on
round and round in these meaningless circles, and this could be a source of much
emotional distress. When I was a teenager my poems were all about the terrible things
humanity was doing to our natural world, and I know for sure that a lot of our youngsters
are very concerned about these sorts of issues. Even those who have an outlet for their
feelings such as writing poetry or writing and playing music, still struggle with the huge
chasm between their understanding, and the world where people seem to be switched off,
just working and drinking and acting as if the most important thing on earth was to be
rich enough to both socialise and compete with people who have the same priorities.
Basically the system gives the message that if you comply you will be given some of the
‘sweets’, just the same as spoilt kids – and once you start going down that road it is very
hard to turn back, so you end up turning a blind eye, and doing all sorts of compromising
things to ensure the sweets keep coming – particularly if you have now got a partner and
kids to answer to if the supply stops. Have you asked them though, what they really
think, do you actually know?
Not everyone wants to be like that. Many young people are much more grown up and
aware than that. If we don’t encourage our young people to think for themselves,
seek alternatives, or at least let them know that we accept their need to do so, then
they are going to feel very trapped, and also probably worried about disappointing us.
Those benefiting from our current systems are not our young people at all unless of
course they really are brainwashed enough to want to be the next big business magnet.
Our system perpetuates specialism rather than versatility, which means that you then tend
to rely on others to provide the services and things you cannot do or produce yourself,
and thus are relying on the continuing system whether we like it or not. We tend to be left
thinking that we can’t break out of it, but this isn’t really true at all. In fact, once the oil
runs out, we will probably have to survive at more of a local level anyway, so we need to
all be learning to be more versatile really.
However, if we went off now and did our own thing, or local community thing, then the
big boys of the banking and business world, and the governments, wouldn’t be making
money out of us; so they are constantly seeking more ways to shackle us and herd us
They want to keep us deeply entrenched, with our mortgages and other debts, and our
taxes and other commitments. But they also keep quietly adding more rules, regulations,
restrictions, and requirements to tighten the hold – to be able to take more from us, and to
stop us from doing much for ourselves. Many of these threaten our freedom and health.
They also want to keep us blindfolded, concealing the truth about just how incredibly
awful they have been in their manipulation of events in their attempts to grab everything
they value, and control the world, because of course they are afraid of retribution.
However, most people, and organisations, who are awake to what has been going on are
quite spiritually mature, and are more interested in putting things right than in retribution
or revenge. We just want to see everybody in with a fair chance of survival – with our
freedom and health intact. We want to find sustainable ways of living, helping each other
and yet continuing to be our unique selves, and continuing to evolve consciously into a
species capable of living in harmony.
So let’s re-assure our young people that we are prepared to go for this, or at least enable
them to do so. Let’s talk about it in families – there should be no taboos. Let’s give them
something to identify with, hope for, and help carry through. It’s not the first time that
we will be making some big changes, as history will show, so they had better believe that
we are capable of it. There is already so much good stuff going on that they should take
heart from that too – thankfully the internet has proved to be an amazing tool for sourcing
information and co-ordinating efforts. Let’s do this – let’s pull this team together now.
We are building links to useful sources of information & inspiration,
and co ordinating global meditation linkups for positive input into the collective
consciousness – the compost bed from which our new garden will grow.
To get a bit of healthy discussion going between our experts, Julia has a follow up post to last weeks Wednesday Wisdom on Body Confidence. (This was on another website, but I have left the mention in so that it makes sense as you read.)
I agree with Star’s 11th July Wednesday Wisdom Blog “Body Confidence”, but of course there are many other things we can love about our bodies than how they look.
I am continuously amazed by how well we are put together, how our bodies work, and the incredible things we can do with them.
I am grateful for the systems that function to keep me alive and well. Just look at the details – isn’t it incredible? Aren’t we incredible!
I like to feel strong and fit, and am pleased that I can do physical work sometimes, and feel that different kind of tiredness at the end of a day that is really satisfying, and bodes for a sound night’s sleep that is really renewing. The more muscles we use the better – it’s not so great to do things that strain some areas and leave others untouched – but we can remedy this by doing other things which do provide more of a balanced form of exercise and make us feel good all over.
I love to dance. It’s amazing how we can wriggle and shake and twist, bend and spin and kick. I revel in the feeling of it, and being able to express a response to good music in this way is wonderful. I make sure to roll my shoulders to release tension, and sway and rotate my hips at least some of the time, to prevent them from stiffening up as I get older. I often have a good laugh too, by the way.
Yoga and martial arts are great, not only for the movements that stretch us and keep us supple, but also for the balance we develop. From the centre of our bodies we can then move our limbs more effectively.
Lots of sports test your abilities and skills. I tend to prefer individual non-competitive ones such as windsurfing and climbing, but of course there are loads of team sports and things you can do with your friends too.
Swimming is fantastic for overall body exercise and way of keeping fit, and doesn’t put any weight bearing strain on your skeletal frame. Walking is absolutely excellent for you, especially if you can do it in a lovely natural environment which is soft underfoot and beautiful to enjoy. The steady movement not only exercises us in a balanced way, it also allows stress to seep away, and our breathing to deepen and cleanse us.
Exercise has many added benefits – it boosts good brain chemistry (but don’t overdo it as it can actually become addictive because of this). It also helps toxins to clear from all areas of our bodies as we move and breathe to stimulate all our systems.
It’s great if you also drink more water to help clear toxins out after exercise, or anytime in fact, rather than go for other drinks all the time. If we are exercising well, then we also tend to go naturally for more healthy foods, rather than comfort foods. Food is something else we can really appreciate and enjoy in a sensory way – the taste and aroma’s, as well as the visual. And if we eat the right things for our bodies, that of course also helps them to function better.
Of course, it is more than just the physical that we can love. I advocate total mind-body-spirit balance if you want to really make the best of life, and give yourself every reason to love and appreciate yourself, and your interaction with the world around you.
We are physical beings experiencing life here – ideally in energetic balance between the earth and the universe. We need to find ways to stimulate our minds, and have fun at the same time. And we need to look at our spiritual side too, to make life satisfying and meaningful. I can help with this. Why not take a look at some of my guides and other articles on this blog or on my website, such as “Breathing to Balance….”, “How to Feel Great”, “Philosophy & Sensuality”, “Spiritual Coaching”. “Being Lighter than this…” looks at a blend of the mental and physical to optimise performance in any area, including sports, studies, interviews, and public appearances.
I really advocate being creative and sensual in life, as well as developing practical skills, and using our minds as tools. We can use our awareness and intention to notice and enjoy things, as well as to learn new things, all of which enhance how we live.
We can fine-tune ourselves to live optimally, and really get the best out of life. As a Counsellor and Stress Consultant, I can help deal with any emotional issues that might get in the way of finding your balance here, and of becoming comfortable with yourself and with others. And as a Life Coach, I can also help you to plan how best to move forwards with anything you might wish to achieve.
We can look around us at the amazing complexity and diversity of things; how the many eco-systems of the earth work, the intricate details and variety of life, and also how the solar system incredibly allows life to exist here. I hope that you can enjoy a sense of wonder at it all, and share it with your children too. If we can hold onto that sense of child-like wonder in life, and not let it be dulled by work and other pressures, then it stimulates both mental and spiritual curiosity, and boosts your overall enjoyment of life.
Look also at the amazing skills and unique attributes we have, or can develop. Life is chock-full of opportunities to use them, to explore, to learn, and to become more and more of who we can be.
So, I encourage you to think holistically rather than putting too much emphasis on one area, and try to optimise your overall life experience. Loving it all means that you cannot help loving yourself because you are part of it.
PART I – A brief look at poetic forms, styles, sound patterns, and language.
I would suggest learning forms and styles – even if you don’t think you are going to use them in the end. That adage of learning the backbone of things (the rules that others have used) and then discarding them (or breaking them) tends to apply. You tend to become good enough to work without them by growing from and through them and then going beyond, rather than just by ignoring them from the very start. Most babies still learn to crawl before they can walk, and apparently the movement involved in crawling helps to develop certain parts of the brain properly. It’s often only by first trying out various styles (mimicking other voices) that we can then find our own unique and thus truly authentic voice. Again, the growing child gives us a good analogy – children learn to talk first by copying others, before they can begin to develop their own conversational characteristics.
Even so, when it comes to rhyme and language, it is best to try to avoid using obvious clichéd chiming rhymes and archaic language as soon as possible – unless you are trying to be funny, or writing purely for the entertainment of your granny. If you want to get published anywhere that matters then you need to acknowledge that that has been done to death centuries ago, and try to find something that sounds a bit more modern and unique. Twisting your syntax unnaturally to try to force a rhyme has a doubly displeasing effect. You can choose to use rhymes internally instead of at the ends of lines, or even not at all.There is a huge variety of beautiful words available to us, and although there is a deep history of writers, we can still easily find soft rhyming patterns, cadences, and words that sing to us in a special way when we take the time to use them skilfully. It is always better to take the time to seek out the exact words for what you mean to express rather than to make do with second best. Even in prose writing, getting the syntax and individual words just right is very important.
In Part 2 I will look at some other things that help in developing good writing skills and avoiding some of the pitfalls. Including a mention of how some other forms of writing differ from poetry.
Taking a look at some other things that help in developing good writing skills and avoiding some of the pitfalls. (Including a swift mention of how some other forms of writing differ from poetry.)
Read widely to discover how others have succeeded before you. Try to ensure that you include material from poets of both past and present ages, and from as many countries as possible, as just focusing on one or two areas is very limiting. I am eternally grateful to several wonderful translators (particularly Robert Bly) who have dedicated huge amounts of time and effort to bringing us the works of some of these in English. (I have also had the privilege of listening to Robert’s readings of some of these on tape, where he so exquisitely enthuses about the details, and am very sorry to have missed the opportunity of interviewing him for my magazine “Rustic Rub” which I was then editing.)
Some of my favourite poets are : as a child – RL Stevenson, TS Elliot, Ezra Pound, Roy Campbell, Guy Butler, GK Chesterton, Alfred Noyes, GM Hopkins, DH Lawrence, Robinson Jeffers, Blake, Shelley, Kipling, John Masefield, Robert Graves, Wilfred Owen, Tennyson, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Rex Warner, Judith Wright, and Ogden Nash, [plus other diverse influences such as Classical music, Irish folk music, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, the Moody Blues, Santana, Pink Floyd.]
And later on – Federico Garcia Lorca, Pablo Neruda, Cesar Vallejo, Rumi (and many of the other Sufi writers), Robert Bly, Octavio Paz, Vasco Popa, Rabindranath Tagore, Miroslav Holub, Tomas Transtromer, Arthur Rimbaud, Theodore Roethke, John Berryman, Frank O’ Hara, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Bukowski, William Carlos Williams, Albert Huffstickler, ee cummings, Charles Madge, Roland Penrose, Dylan Thomas, Kenneth White, Jay Ramsay, Norman Jope, Ian Robinson, Lee Harwood, Bert Meyers, Rene Char, Jean Tardieu, Henri Michauz, and many many others from Europe, further East, and from the Americas as well as other places.
Many of my early ones were from a school collection in South Africa called “Two Roads” edited by KM Durham, and many of the later ones were from a collection called “The Rattle Bag” edited by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney (both of whom I heard reading their own work), or from collections from various countries, or of certain types of poetry. Others were from publishers, editors, or translators, all of whom made a particular effort to bring us work from further afield, for which I am most grateful. Some of these writers I have been lucky enough to meet and call friends. I have many other much loved books, but can’t mention them all! [A huge amount of music and art also played its part in my later growth, including the surrealist painters.]
I am also indebted to my friend Gary Boswell for his community publishing efforts and inspiration, and for his huge act of confidence in introducing me to working as a poet in schools, and even prisons. I would also like to thank Thom the World Poet for his huge energy and diversity and acts of kindness in many countries in the name of poetry and other art. He invited me to participate in festivals in Texas, and it is he who inspired me to found and organise the Yorkshire Rainbow Festival.
Curiosity about most things is one of my driving forces – I love to look at details of how things work, or of how things look, smell, taste, sound, behave. This is a source of much of my writing. So I might write about the folly of the government one minute, and the beauty of a flower in the next moment. I tend to use all my senses to explore the details of the flower, or of a situation, including its relation to everything around it, even if it is just in my imagination. It is good to be sensually aware in life to fully appreciate the details of movement when you dance, or the tastes and textures of foods, for example.
Of course philosophically I know that my representation is just one view, and I am curious about your representation too. It is the huge variation of amazing things and circumstances in life, and of our experiences and interpretations of these, that informs our overall consciousness as human beings. It is part of a poet’s responsibility to try to get our expressions of our individual pictures as true and accurate as they can be. If all the tiny pieces of the jigsaw are cut carefully then we have more chance of creating a valid overall picture, and the responsibility of those in the arts is just as important as those in science in this respect. (Scientists of course have other responsibilities ideally, such as trying not to physically mess things up for us!)
It is often writers, musicians, and artists who lead the thought-field when it comes to a need for social change, because if they have done their job well, they have properly shown how things are, so that people can see if they are working okay or not. They have always considered both the details and the overall picture, and thought outside the boxes usually set up for us, not because they have dared to, but because they have to, that is what they are here for, it is inherent in their nature. Writers and other artists obtain courage and strength from the conviction of their own work, and that of others, so it is a perpetual cycle that propels them forwards, and this is often reflected in their use of language.
Surreal writing is a great way of intriguing our minds, and also one of the ways we can communicate things of great portent or meaningfulness without sounding didactic. By sort of hiding the message or meaning behind symbols that speak to our subconscious we can communicate things that would be rejected out of hand if they were approached too directly. Reading what other people have written in this style, will develop your sense of what is possible, and give you an ear for using language in this way. If you are able to tune in to, and go with the creative flow, trusting the things that get thrown up for inclusion, you will manage to write using this subconscious language. It can be surprising that you may only discover much later on just how well you have done – as more meaning continues to emerge from your own words layer by layer! It is one of the ways the so called ‘Duende’ can be invoked, but it can also come to life through vivid vitality in language.
Like tumbling horses backs as they gallop towards the beach, it is the sweat on their coats, the freedom of their movement, that counts more than who gets there first or what their names are.Our words are like raw stones and water in the pure stream of life. We say them and they leave us – yet we stay awash, like islands being perpetually eroded and built up. Our lives become sand as the water and rocks merge. Again, over time, the beaches pile up, and we lay down new rock, only to again be broken up – yet we remain, essentially an island – with those horses galloping across the land under a huge sky – with all of it, and the sea, permeating deep into our psyche – which ultimately blends with everything.Space and light always gets into the mix if you follow your real free mind’s eye, and allow it to express what is impressed upon and reflected meaningfully within you. Like a great artist, your portraits and landscapes glow like those sweating horses, reflecting the sky in their rolling eyes, leaping like the foam on the wave tops, frothing and seething with unmistakeable representations and interpretations of life.
It is part of being human that we can feel most whole when we accept the impermanence, the continual ebb and flow of life, the overall balance once we let go of trying to hold on to things.Let the drumming horses hooves, the earth, the wind, the singing white foam, make a place within your heart that you can always call home, no matter what else changes.May the spark of the Duende reveal colours glinting in the dark, so that you are never afraid, even if you are alone, to simply dance.May you never have issues with writers’ block – because writing gets inside your skin – the perpetual itch, the compulsion, to say what you mean, feel, dream, think, breathe.
I have a way of writing that I do naturally, but when asked to define it, gave it the term ‘Psychological Landscape’ poetry. This is rather like what I have been writing above, and I have found that I can successfully impart this ability to others when I do workshops, whether it be with adults or with children. There are many examples in my poetry collections – the two most obvious ones being still available are “Following Father” and “Terra Affirmative”. Following Father also contains some lighter work, about my travels, family, and other things, as well as some early political writings where I explore several forms and use humour to help get things across. Terra Affirmative is printed together in one cover with another collection called “Riding the Escalator” which is a bit whacky, and generally depicts the journey of becoming a more public poet.
There are other ways of avoiding or at least disguising didacticism – one of my friends, MC Jabber, is a performance poet who simply speaks so fast that you have to be intrigued enough to listen to his work several times to absorb what he is saying. Rappers can also use this tactic, and both effectively employ music and drama. He may show anger but this tends to be done in a cerebrally organic way, that again evades casual scrutiny. His delivery gives more of a sense of being musically informed rather than of using music to go along with the words. Every tiny sound or gap counts, so it is not just what he is saying that matters, but the pattern of it too, which gets into our heads in a different way to the way symbolism or surreality does, because of its intricacy.
I have also been rather successful with a series of my works termed ‘prose poetry’. I learnt about this from several of my fellow poets and editors, (including Ian Robinson and Albert Huffstickler), some of whom were exceedingly good at it, and yet it was still possible to develop a unique voice for this. Robert Bly wrote a brilliant article about prose poetry for an international journal funnily enough called “The Prose Poem”, and that was very helpful too. So, I write this style in prose paragraphs, but still using sound patterns and spacing and language in a musical and artistic way. This in itself makes it very definitely poetry rather than prose. The way I use it to express my deep reflections is also very different from most prose writing. I don’t discuss what’s, why’s, and wherefores, I simply show what I mean in a very unique way. It sometimes makes unusual connections or juxtapositions or shifts in topic matter, as you can also do in other styles of poetry, and it can sometimes also be surreal in the way it uses language. Yet I can achieve something different with it than I can in other forms of poetry – and that has to do with tone I think, which is enhanced by the kind of timing in my sound patterns that is only possible with the longer sentences. I can sound matter-of-fact, or detached, yet make revelations that perhaps seem more shocking or bizarre due to the tone used. Maybe the lack of drama makes them seem more real than if they were hyped up, or maybe it’s to do with showing how easily we accept unnatural things as supposed facts in our everyday lives, how easily they slide under our radar; but either way it is mostly the different tone that gives my prose poetry a different voice. So I conclude that I am able to handle a different sort of topic, as well as handle familiar subject matter differently – given the structure of paragraphs as my units instead of verses made up of lines. There are just a few of my prose poetry books left – COUNT, and SPAN.
Then of course you can get flowery prose, which is not poetry any more, but is prose written in a flowery or overly descriptive way. This can of course, still be very artistically appealing, and speaks to us in a different way to straight prose, which can become more and more formal as you go from story narrative to reporting narrative and from essays to articles and non-fiction books, and on to scientific papers and business reports.
Short stories can also be written in the sort of flat tone I use for my prose poetry, as sometimes the straight telling of the facts is more effective in itself than dressing them up, and maybe my prose poetry was influenced by some of the short story writers using this style (such as Raymond Carver and Andre Dubus – both introduced to me by a friend who is an excellent poet and short story writer himself – Daithidh MacEochaidh), yet my prose poetry is more definitely poetry due to the cadences and language used. (I was also impressed by the writing styles of Jane Smiley, particularly in her book “Ordinary Love”, and by the works of Paulo Coelho.) I think all these writers write in a straight but particularly tender way, that makes them stand out for me.
What I find quite interesting is that even in strictly formal writing you may very well encounter more fiction than truth – when we have subversively been led to believe that formal writing is more authoritative. In this day and age, with the internet, fortunately more people can see that this is certainly not necessarily true, and recognise that we have been misinformed and sometimes evenly deliberately misled about a lot of things. We are learning to do our own research, to include wider sources, and reach conclusions based on trusting our own innate wisdom, which is basically what poets, musicians, and artists have been doing all along
For a poet, even though he/she knows that his/her voice is only one voice amongst many different voices, it is imperative for his/her own integrity that he/she express his/her utmost personal truth. This does not mean that he/she can’t have fun and play around sometimes, which is essential for anyone to do in order to take a break from serious work and maintain one’s sanity, but people will know when he/she is playing and still recognise who he/she really is.
For story writing, whether long or short, I like to try to be authentic by getting inside the heads of my characters, and letting them speak as they feel, and do what they do – so I follow their actions rather than direct them, and the stories are told in their voices rather than mine. The setting, and even the plot develops as we go along, rather than me planning it out beforehand. Your characters have to remain very interesting otherwise you will get bored with the writing, but the same surely applies even if you have planned everything out beforehand as well. It can obviously work better for some people to plan things carefully, and there are graduations between the two sides of the coin, where you can plan partially perhaps, at least to help you avoid losing your sense of direction.
In stories of course you can still share important information about a topic and how you feel, with the storyline giving you yet another way of making this non-didactic. You can simply show your reader whatever you wish to show them by making the story an example, laid out with suitable settings, situations, and characters.
At the other end of the creative writing spectrum as far as length goes, Haiku are very tiny poems, but are very interesting examples to look at because of the hugeness of what is involved in writing good ones. They are also something I like to discuss, as they are often mis-taught, which I find a great pity. There are hordes of deformed things staggering about out there that people are calling haiku but very definitely are not Okay so what are they?
Well the one thing that people get right is that they only have 3 lines. Then they mostly say that the lines should be in syllables of 5, 7, and 5 again. This however, is only a maximum specification, so you can have less syllables if you like, although the balance should still be that the middle line has the most. One should use this minimalistic style to best effect by discarding any superfluous words such as ‘and’ and ‘the’ and conjunctions wherever possible, so they should not be normal sentences. They are often split into two phrases, maybe separated by a semi colon. Haiku should not be used to discuss mundane things or to tell us what you are doing or what your views are. They should be like tiny brush strokes depicting a natural scene – in fact they should contain what is called a ‘kareji’ word, which is a seasonal word, although it is much less obvious than just a word meaning a specific season, so it can be something like grass or water or a bird or the sun (all things that can change their characteristics with the seasons, or in fact even the time of day) – it doesn’t have to go so far as being brown or green or tall or short grass, or ice as opposed to a lake, as far as I can tell, although sometimes these distinctions might help with the next requirement. There is supposed to be a thoughtful juxtaposition between stillness and movement, so you could now use swaying grass against a still tree trunk, or a flying or hopping bird against the still ground or a tree, or ice on top of a slowly moving stream. This is where the use of that semi-colon comes in, to separate the two, and I observe that it is often the first two lines, separated from the third. There is supposed to be a kind of spiritual contemplation implied in, and thus obtained from, a good haiku.
Now I am going to take this a step further – because on reflection, I think there is even more to this. Putting our attention on Spiritual stillness can, just as in tantric sex, serve to both temporarily distract us from the urgency of movement, and at the same time intensify the senses when movement comes back into play. So haiku are like tiny meditations, where we get a sense of the steadfastness underneath all the activity, and can also appreciate that there is even moving energy within the still body, the hill, or the tree before we follow again the more obvious movement of the bird or the leaves blowing along in the wind. It kind of binds us to the earth and yet gives us a sense of freedom because we can actually choose when to be still and when to be busy. It also gives us a sense of the relationship between our chattering minds and the stillness and depths we could obtain through meditation, and maybe even asks us if all our rushing about really means anything much, and if so, what.
So you can see that a genuine haiku is a tiny glistening jewel that has been given much attention to polish it enough to reflect all that meaning for us!
In part 3 I will be taking contemplation further, showing that it, along with other lifestyle essentials, can help to maintain holistic health for even the most obsessed writers.
Taking contemplation further, showing that it, along with other lifestyle essentials, can help maintain holistic health for even the most obsessed writers.
Writers and artists tend to be prone to emotional roller-coaster rides due to the strength of their emotions and the compulsive, wide ranging interest in life’s nooks and crannies. They can be torn apart by despair or anger at some stupidity or injustice one moment, and then swelled with joy by the beauty of a bird song or the sight of the hills in the dawn light, or the smell of the sea. So it can be especially useful to use meditation to try to keep one’s self more grounded and balanced, to still the mind inbetween its flights and ravages. Meditation also helps to expand our consciousness, so that we can examine and express things even more deeply.
Writers and artists also tend to become so absorbed in their work that they lose all sense of time. They can easily forget to eat or sleep when they should, so after the galloping hours of being propped up by the adrenaline of their creative juices, they can suddenly become very tired. It is hard to try to discipline one’s self to live a less erratic lifestyle without losing something of that creative power. It goes rather hand-in-hand with the territory – you never want to stop in full flow! However, if you do try to focus, in some of your inbetween periods, on catching up on sleep, getting some exercise, and plenty of healthy food, then it obviously helps redress the balance. Even if our lifestyle is erratic, it can still be quite holistic – something I always advocate aiming for – good physical, mental, and spiritual health overall. If we can achieve this then we are as fit as we can be to face whatever tasks and purposes life hands us, or we choose to make for ourselves.
I always remember the remonstrations of one of my friends, David Caddy, who still edits “Tears in the Fence”, to “show rather than tell”, and this also brings to mind the advice of Ghandi to “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. So if you are a writer, always remember that you are taking on a responsibility with it, that grows as your writing spreads more widely. You are both being an example, and revealing the world to us through your perceptions. Although your voce is only one unique voice in a sea of many, yet you still have the power to influence more people through your words than you will personally meet. Taking care of yourself is part of that responsibility.
My books are available from my website http://www.radiance-solutions.co.uk/jwbooks.htm
I wrote a prose poem to honour Robert Bly for the influence of his work on me, and it’s in my book SPAN.
I suddenly started looking up John Lennon quotes on Goodreads the other day – which helped inspire me to write this article. I didn’t know then that it was the anniversary of his tragic death – I only found that out a day later when I started seeing posts on Facebook that made it obvious that a lot of my friends had also been looking him up and replaying his music. I don’t think it was just a co-incidence that I made that connection, I do think that his spirit is still very much with us in our attempts to find better ways of being at peace with ourselves, and living more in harmony with the planet.
As I co-administrate a Facebook open group called ‘Back to The Garden’ some of his quotes were particularly relevant – such as “I’m not really a career person; I’m a gardener, basically.” Also, “The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.” Our group is already named ‘Back to The Garden’ because of the 60s song ‘Woodstock’ which says “We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden”. Our aim is to share information to help us try to live sustainable lives by creating supportive local communities, and to participate in global meditation link-ups to help influence the collective consciousness towards achieving this. We also share creative inspiration to help express our ideas.
So, back to my original article – which basically shows why I think John Lennon is such a great example to us all – of how to truly be ourselves.
John Lennon was such a thoroughly REAL person. His quotes reflect all sides of human nature, from the sad and withdrawn, to the desperately painful, to the angry, to the loving and celebratory, and from the arrogant to the humble, as well as from the serious to the exuberant humour-filled sheer absolutes of expression. We all have many sides to our nature but we tend to try to pretend that we don’t, mostly because we are afraid to show some of it. Does society make us think that if we remain on a bland even-keel we are more agreeable to others? Surely we are more interesting if we share what we truly feel? It’s perfectly possible to be honest without being horrid. Why can’t we just accept all of it and be this real? Okay, we don’t all need to be huge public characters, but we can be quietly firm about who and how we choose to be.
Another quote of John Lennon’s which is staggeringly beautiful in its stark honesty is “When you’re drowning, you don’t think I would be incredibly pleased if someone would notice I’m drowning and come and rescue me. You just scream.”
If you are facing a period of ‘depression’, why not allow that to simply be for a while? I generally have 3 days of it every now and again. I learned from a very early age to manage it. You could say it was artistic temperament, but it isn’t just that – we all have natural cycles energetically and physically, which affect us emotionally, and I believe we are better off listening to these than trying to deny them. (Of course, you should look after yourself with good nutrition, exercise, and the right amount of sleep, because imbalance in these areas can exacerbate or oven trigger such periods.) I give myself permission to let it happen and actually explore it – I write or paint myself through it. I don’t do anything I don’t want to – I just live with it. Okay, so I don’t usually publish what I’ve written at such times – but I do learn from it – and I am well aware that I am processing emotion, dealing with it – not trying to suppress it. I know that after the 3 days it will go again because I have given it the space to play through. Often, I make positive changes in my life after these stages – so they are like transition phases. I seem to gather strength and insight from actually allowing them to really work through, and somehow grow from the experience. Perhaps by allowing the darker side its space, I then get recompense by gaining access to more of the light, because sometimes it is straight after one of these periods that I produce my best work. Maybe if we looked at it as if we are like snakes shedding skins so that we have room to grow some more, we could learn to process these phases naturally, we could all deal with them. Maybe they wouldn’t hang around then – we could trust ourselves to get through them – not let them overwhelm us, or leave us stuck half in half out – we could go into them fully and come out the other side. I think it is healthy to allow one’s self to honestly explore all sides of your nature, as that is probably the only way you can truly get to know and trust yourself. I think that is why I love John Lennon so much – he trusted himself to be real – and he told the truth.
Art of any form – music, writing, painting, are the most obvious ones, but there are many more, (and we don’t have to be ‘artistic’ to express ourselves, you could just write letters you may never post, or notes to yourself) – any of this helps us to truly face the world and explore it and the human psyche. We may begin with ambivalence, but we soon become fearless if we explore thoroughly enough. We become powerful in ourselves because we are learning to understand ourselves. We can’t ever really hope to understand everything around us, but we can learn to understand ourselves in relation to anything else. If we know what we stand for and how we feel about things – then that never changes no matter what else changes around you – you become like a rock, yet at the same time feel floatingly free. (Of course if you do learn from new information and experiences or learn to respond differently to situations, your outlook does evolve, but you are still the floating rock that is you growing as part of the conscious universe).
You know we need variety in life to make it interesting. There has to be variety to even enable us to exist as individuals. So you stop blocking it off – you accept your curiosity and begin to explore, and the more you do this, the more you tend to then celebrate and appreciate the variety. You also accept your vulnerability, yet at the same time feel incredibly strong because you have opened fully to life. Life feels magical – even in its madness and confusion – it is staggeringly intoxicating.
So let’s grasp the bull by the horns and dare to be real – you’ll be amazed how great it will feel…. Not to be sucked in any more, not be afraid any more. You will feel powerful, filled with energy, draw yourselves up, and take control of who you want to be.
Neale Donald Walsch said “You are all in the process of defining yourselves. Every act is an act of self definition.“
Ralph Waldo Emerson said “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
And Shakespeare said “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
John Lennon also said “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”
But wait a minute, just as with Lennon (and many others) – those in power don’t want us to be real do they? They want us to go on consuming their goods (with poisons in them), and watching TV (with all the pap they’d like us to believe). They want us to feel powerless so that they can continue to lead us blindly into wars and other money making schemes, and so that we accept their laws and judgements, instead of questioning them or standing up for ourselves and our rights. If we are real then we become a threat to them, and they feel a need to deal with us – exactly, you got it – but now there are too many of us, and things are going to have to change. If we stop listening to them, if we stop using their systems, and simply walk away – that is all that is needed.
Then we will look after each other at community level – ensure we are can access healthy food, work together at projects that sustain us – not them – keep things local – it makes much more sense. Trade our skills, make things that last, that don’t waste raw materials and fuel, things that are truly useful – not junk to make profit out of others. We can take back everything they have been trying to take away from us completely, bit by bit, over centuries, sneakily.
Marianne Williamson said “Do you really not know what to do? Or do you just lack the courage to do it?”
Ghandi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Van Morrison said “You can’t stop us on the road to freedom, you can’t keep us ‘cause our eyes can see.”
And John Lennon said “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.”
Another thing John Lennon taught us was never to be sucked into trying to fight those trying to exert power over us at their own game. He said “If you want peace, you won’t get it with violence.” And “There’s no separation. We’re all one. Give peace a chance, not shoot people for peace. All you need is love. I believe it. It’s damn hard, but I absolutely believe it.”
So don’t allow yourself to be diverted – firstly it infects you with their level of thinking, secondly it takes your power away. Save your power for doing the good stuff, dismiss the rest as insignificant. As long as you remain complete in who you want to be, you will keep your absolute power. The minute you slip into something else – you lose some of it to them. Don’t give it away, keep you power quietly to yourself, and you will always be free, they cannot defeat you. No matter what they do, your power remains yours – they do not get a jot of it. Look at how we remember the great people like John Lennon – that’s because they never lost anything at all. He has become untouchable, and yet we can all touch him and his dreams, and help make them as real as he believed they could be. He said “A dream you dream alone is only a dream, a dream you dream together is reality.” And “Peace is not something you wish for; It’s something you make, Something you do, Something you are…..”
More notes regarding depression.
Cognitive Dissonance might arise when you begin to realise there are things wrong in the world but can’t see the whole picture so your bits don’t fit or make sense, or you might be disappointed by the difference between your expectations and what has happened, or of people. As Lennon said “The more real you get the more unreal the world gets.”
So you need to re-adjust. Surely allowing ourselves the time to do this rather than try to fight it is actually healthy? Look closely at how you are feeling and thinking. Express how you feel through safe means – artistically, or by speaking to a friend, therapist, or to an inanimate object or imaginary person, or by writing letters or notes. Even ask rhetorical questions, or ask for what you want to happen – it helps you clarify things and you might even find answers. Recognise your autonomy – you can seek clarification in your understanding, or you can actually just choose to change the way you want to feel or do things. Medication obviously is useful in that it can give you the break to rest and steady yourself, before beginning to explore what is happening. If you view it as a tool to get back up a few steps, not as an excuse to just lie down at the bottom – then it is a positive and empowering act rather than something you are succumbing to. You should ideally always have a plan with your doctor to ensure that you are helped to withdraw carefully and gradually as you take back your power. You do sometimes need to be firm with your doctor about this, take responsibility for your own best interests, but never try to do it completely on your own.
Khalil Gibran wrote that “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”
Plug into the umbilical cord of power through meditation and recharge yourself. Connect with the beautiful energy of the planet too. You are a rock between the earth and the reeling stars. Stand there feeling it deeply. Reach out your arms, dance if you want to, swim in the moonlight, sing or shout. Feel the processes in yourself re-adjusting, and renewing – and you will emerge with magic keys – re-enter life in the next stage of growing.
Remember your connection with the harmonics of the universe. You are one aspect of the one life force, manifested as human consciousness – everything else is a distraction. Focus on your relationship with the life force and yourself – who you are being – how you want to be. Other worries often pale into insignificance when you look at the bigger picture. You begin to realise that none of that small stuff can stop you from choosing exactly who you want to be. When you appreciate the astonishing variety of life around you, you tend to just find it easier to allow other things and people to just be as they are. Reasoning doesn’t matter so much anymore, even forgiving doesn’t matter much anymore – because you see that there is no need, you just let go of the small stuff and walk on deep into the wonder of being fully alive.
As John Lennon said: “Limitless undying love – which shines around me like a million suns – it calls me on and on across the universe.”
He left us a great legacy – an example to follow – and the power of his honest to goodness words, actions, and amazing creativity lives with us still.