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To let go of control is to allow life to happen as we intend

“Get back control” seems to be a mantra for our times, except that it can seem frustratingly difficult to achieve, especially where it’s in the gift of others. Yet the more we try to assert control, the more we don’t ultimately get what we really want.

I often used to hear business people tell me how important it was for them to have control, whether it was over others, a system or process, or the direction in which things were headed. To lack control was to be at the mercy of others or the system. and to be tossed about amidst a sea of uncertainty. People feel they have lost control to remote, alien and malign forces and that the world is no longer what it was. The sense of community and collaboration seems to have been replaced by a doctrine of “every man for himself”. Others are deciding things without consulting them and taking account of their interests.

To have control can however be an illusion. The universe operates as one and seeks for balance. When things are out of balance, the tendency is to restore balance. Thus humankind thinks it can control nature, until it hits back with massive destructive force: “I told you so”. Climate change is ironically a sign of nature’s re-assertion. How hard it is to remember that we need to go with the flow, not push against it. If we push against it, we get back what we put out, which is more obstacle and resistance.

“When we let go of control, we are in control”. This is a different way of seeing things. To surrender intentionally is not giving up. It is allowing things to be. Rather than being “nowhere”, directionless, out of control, we allow nature flow to occur, be “now here”, in the present, where our intention draws to us that which we need, and life happens in accordance with our plan for it. Control is replaced by a state of allowing things to be, guided by our intention. Thus we are aligned with the creative force of the universe.

Life can be so much easier when we allow it to be.

In the present, we don’t know what is going to happen. We have intention, but we are also surrendered. Hard though that can be for very many people in today’s highly goal-focused, driven and stressed existence, it is where we let go of ego, and be in what medieval mystics referred to as the “Cloud of Unknowing“.

It might be that we need to let go of what we are attached to, what we want. To fervently want is to be attached to desire. Then we push it away from us. We get what we put out, which is wanting. Surrendered to our Cloud of Unknowing, we can instead allow what we need to come to us, trusting in the process.

In today’s world, very many people are very anxious and fearful of the future, and think bad things are going to happen. This is exactly when it is time to step back, be aware of what is happening, re-connect with our core of Who We Are, be in the state of Being and surrender to the process, remember our intention and allow what we truly need to be revealed to us.

Life is so much easier when we let it happen.

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My mind is always busy

Do you find that when you try to be still and quiet and hope to relax that your mind gets busy and won’t be quiet? It can be very frustrating. People often tell me that “it is hard for me to be quiet and ‘switch off’ when my mind is always busy”. If you are trying to develop the practice of meditation this can prove to be a deterrent, if you let it.

What people don’t always realise until they try to relax is that they do in fact have a busy mind, like they are always thinking, always on the go, always looking for something that needs attending to. There’s an old expression, “the devil makes work for idle hands”, and today that seems to be haunting us big time. The work ethic, often praised for being behind successful economies, can also the be the bane of someone’s life. It’s like we “can’t” stop. Or so it seems.

For one thing it is actually very healthy if you’ve become aware of how busy your mind is. At least you know what’s really going on. You could ask yourself what the drivers are. When you notice your  busy mind, just pause, ask yourself what today’s thinking is really about, breathe in deep, breathe long and relax, and let go and see what answer comes to your mind.

For example I might be actually thinking about the things I need to do during the day. If that’s the case, I could have a notepad next to me and pause and write down a list, and then go back to my stillness or my meditation. I could also ask myself what’s behind the thinking about “things to do”. Do I notice that I believe I “must” do these things, like it’s compulsive? I could remind myself, re-mind my self, that I have choice and that it’s OK if certain things didn’t happen and that I could let go of being attached to them happening. So I could give myself freedom.

I could also ask what’s behind the “must” in my example above. Maybe I’m afraid of what might happen to me, let’s say, if I don’t do these things. Maybe I’m afraid of failure, or of not being liked by others I things don’t happen, or that that people will be angry, or that I won’t have any money. There’s likely to be something unique to you, some core or root thought you often have, like “I’m no good”, or “not good enough”, etc, if you allowed yourself to be aware of it. This root thought is what it can serve us to challenge and think differently about, as it is our ego and not who we really are.

So our quiet time can be wheh we hear our ego at work. Good time to notice it, be aware, of it, step back and rest in your centred state of being.

Meditation is what happens when we sit with the intention to meditate. We get to be aware of our process, and it’s a good time to use the tools we have to let go.

However, you might just have a busy-mind session. It happens to even the most seasoned practitioners. Stay with it. It does not last. As Buddhists say, “this too shall pass”. All is impermanent. You will have a quite time. But you need to stick to the path and not give up.

I coach people in developing their mindful way of being in the world and to let go of busyiness, through my life coaching. To contact me, click here

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Self confidence can affect our state of being

In previous posts I have been referring to the way that self confidence can be in relation to particular tasks or to certain situations. However, we’ve also seen how self confidence can also relate to our sense of self. This can be about how we feel in ourselves, what we think of ourselves, what we believe about us, and even our perceived inner state of being.

If we find we’re struggling over a particular issue, we might not necessarily see that it is just a matter of mastering a particular skill, lets say, or overcoming our reluctance, fear, embarrassment or whatever. Self doubt can spread into something more generalised, and hence to our state of mind and being. A loss of a cherished job might result in someone finding fault with themselves, that there’s something “wrong” with them, that they’ve “lost it”, are no longer capable, or even aren’t worthy enough. Thus we can plummet into the depths of despair. I’ve pointed out elsewhere in this blog how we can go through particular life transitions in ways that affect our self confidence and our belief in ourselves.

For others, the pattern of low self confidence may be more ingrained. Let’s take an example of people who lack self confidence in social situations. They might avoid social gatherings and not go to parties, networking groups or clubs. They might avoid situations where they feel exposed and vulnerable, as people often say to me in coaching, “the centre of attention”. Interesting that there are those that thrive on being the centre of attention and seek it out at every turn, and others shun it! However, what happens is that people can get such a reaction, that if such a situation occurs, or is likely to occur, the latter will find any possible excuse to escape. This can be very limiting, for example in jobs people might undertake or how they might build friendships and get into relationships.

Lack of self confidence of this kind can be paralysing. One can even not go out much or avoid places where groups of people meet or where they might attract attention.

At this level, it can be well worth while exploring to find out the sources of such discomfort and what has occurred back in time that so limits people. However, again it is worth stressing that with practice in a carefully managed way it is possible to work towards changing one’s thoughts, often with the use of cognitive-behavioural techniques supported by NLP.

In the next post we’ll look more at possible approaches in general terms to support people in building their self confidence. It should be stressed however that it often far more powerful to enlist a coach to help as it can result in far more specific and targeted approaches to really make a difference.

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Speaking with the power of authenticity

I was running a training course in leadership for managers last week, about presentation skills, and what was so very clear for these people that what this course was really about was their ability to be authentic, to be who they are, to be true to themselves. When they came over most powerfully was when they spoke with passion, from the heart, like they meant every word, that what they said really mattered, as though in some subtle way it connected with something true inside them. And this connected us with them. We felt with them, right there in the moment, like it connected with something in us. Such power.

This is such an important leadership trait, and yet so sorely neglected: our ability to be authentic and to create resonance with others. I’ve seen people be very disconnected in this way and for people to be disconnected from them in turn. I’ve watched people try it, like turning on the passion bit, and yet still not quite convince. Or we think we are convinced but it turns out to lack substance.

It’s a journey, finding your authenticity. It means coming to know yourself, who you are, and then, in this case, to communicate from that place. So you need to know that self inside and you also need to learn to speak and interact with courage, from the heart, le cour in French, where many of your positive feelings lie.

This journey can be short for some, longer for others, but contrary to what people tend to want, there aren’t quick fixes. It can seem like peeling back the layers of the onion, to find your truth within, getting to know the different parts of yourself, letting go of certain aspects, emphasising others, dropping certain fronts that we present to the world that don’t serve us, healing hurts, recognising that what’s really there inside is OK after all, coming to like or love ourselves, indeed discovering the sheer magnificence of the Self that dwells within.

When you really know yourself, Who your really Are, people just get you. They just get the message. They trust you, believe you. You have true credibility, built on the authentic power of who you are, not on some fiction presented to the world because that is what we think works or what we think people want.

So in this course I mentioned at the start, when people spoke authentically, even the shy ones, even the ones lacking self-confidence, got our attention and engaged us. All very simple, really. No huge effort, just a matter of Being.

This is therefore where developing self awareness is so important.

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Breakthroughs aren’t just for the few

I’ve been reading an excellent book, “Out of the darkness” by Steve Taylor, in which he tells of people he interviewed for his research into awakening experiences. It is a wonderful catalogue of man’s triumph over adversity, since almost all the people in the book had been through some upheaval or crisis in their lives and had reached a crisis point where they “broke through” to another level of Awareness.

If you want to get more of an idea of what is possible for people, this book is well worth a read. Taylor prefers the word “awakening” to “enlightenment because the latter has been overused and can be misleading. What I found striking was that so many people in the book have had very similar experiences of what they met, observed or felt.

Many felt very at-one with everything and everybody. There was a brilliance and vibrancy of colour, an intensification of perception. In fact they seemed to know what was happening for others and had a strong sense of compassion. Their separate sense of self fell away. In fact many seem to regard their “usual” self as their “old” self, since they had discovered a new self. They felt full of joy, love and bliss. It was as though they now knew a far greater sense of well-being. They appreciated life vastly more but also lost their fear of death. They felt at peace, took pleasure in doing nothing, no longer cared about money, and lived in the present.

In reading this book I felt a strong sense of how important it was that this research was being made available, that more people could know of what life can be like when we break through to an Awareness of who we really are. Taylor makes it clear that there are different levels of awakening and that only a few reach the absolute dissolving of self into pure light but he met or heard about very many who had low to medium levels of awakening, enough for it to be life-changing. This experience was far more widespread than many spiritual leaders would have us believe, partly because many did not realise how significant this was and others had no desire to desire to publicise it! What would be the point?!

It is also clear how important it is to follow a practice that brings you more and more into contact with the sorts of awarenesses that are those experienced by those who make such a breakthrough. For example, one can work on cultivating an awareness of pure love, or feeling connected to inner peace, or feeling blissful. These are the products of spiritual practice, and do not belong to a few. Also, as Taylor say, his researches showed people needed to reach a point of acceptance, of detachment, and of letting go. Crucial in this is the ability to let go of ego, as we teach in The Point of Awareness.

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Making being present a part of your everyday life

Have you found that when on holiday something to do with your work or your home has somehow intruded and you’ve found it hard to shift out of the “holiday mood” to focus on that other matter? It’s almost as though we can go into an altered state of awareness when on holiday.

Well, for some of us no doubt that’s the real life, that it’s life, and that other world, the so-called “real world” is an inconvenience sent to try you. For two weeks let’s say, you get let out to play and there’s nothing that’s going to spoil it for you. And why not? You’ve earned it.

I’d suggest that this holiday experience is a very important one, and has something to teach us about the “real world” too. It depends how you use it.

A lot of the time we’re very caught up in the everyday demands of life, but once in a while we get to slow things down, to press the “pause” button, to allow ourselves time. Time perhaps to do things that give us pleasure, and then maybe also to be more present with ourselves. Time to just notice the moment, with no thought running through your mind, a deadline to meet, a meeting to go to, a piece of work to finish. Just being aware of what your eye lands upon: the colour of the water, the sky, the leaves, the stone wall beside your seat, the cat licking itself on the wall. No thought. Just stillness and awareness of Being. Time expands in the moment. The sense of Awareness enlarges itself, a “portal to the unmanifest” (Eckhart Tolle) is opened, a silent moment of eternity. It is through allowing that we can make contact with our own essence of Being.

You can breathe in the air and breathe in with it your sense of the moment and take the very presence of Being to your heart centre, the centre of your chest, and allow your Awareness to rest there and very gently allow the feelings you notice to expand within you. Being in that state is then a very good state to meditate.

What you do with this Awareness is one that you can also perfectly well do with practice in your everyday life. What’s stopping you?

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When you reach beyond yourself

What is it about stories of people overcoming adversity to achieve great things? Or at least what do they do for you? They certainly touch me emotionally and today I was asking what that was about.

There’s been an inspiring TV programme recently called “Perspectives”, about a group of northern British miners who in 1934 came together to learn about art and to paint, and how they began to achieve a very high standard of art and to paint great pictures. They were miners at Ashington colliery in Northumberland. They left school at twelve, as people did, and started to work in the mines, very much as every male in those tight-knit mining communities did. However, they wanted to learn and, as was the spirit of those times in the Depression, to improve themselves by their own efforts. They met in a hut on the edge of the village and invited teachers to come. In time they learned to paint and achieved what they did.

Just think of it, a day of enormously hard grind in very testing conditions deep underground, and then to come home, clean up and go and apply yourself to art. What was there inside those men that needed to come out?

I was instantly absorbed. It got me hooked. And it was inspiring.

I was reminded of the recent successful film, the King’s Speech. In this film King George VI, a shy and reluctant monarch who stepped into the role after his brother’s abdication in 1936, received voice coaching to manage a serious speech impediment to be able to speak publicly. Such was his success that he was finally able to speak effectively to the nation and beyond at the declaration of war in 1939, when the whole country was looking to him to give them the lead they needed in this terrible hour. At that point I was in tears.

What is this, I asked myself? The provisional answer I have is that I find it moving to witness someone, despite their circumstances, overcoming apparent adversity and reaching beyond themselves to achieve great things, especially where those achievements touch, impact and benefit others – as both the art of those miners or the speech of King George did. In there somewhere is the triumph of the human spirit, that ability to reach within themselves and find their greatness.

You too could do that.

To learn more about developing your own inner awareness of who you really are, and how to connect with your inner essence and self-worth, read here about The Point of Awareness.

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Notice the brilliant light

Brilliant light. It’s fabulous, bright spring sun here in Wiltshire, UK, with not a cloud in the sky. Might that be a metaphor for your life at the moment? Or not?

How do we have more lightness of being in our lives? How do we let in the light? Or rather as I would say, connect with and let out your own light that dwells within you.

We might be absorbed in our mind-stuff, where the mind runs off on its own, when suddenly we might become aware that it’s a beautiful sunny day. It’s as if someone has switched on the light in our minds. However when living in “knee-jerk living”, on automatic ego pilot, we don’t do that as a matter of course. The absorption in mind-stuff becomes all-consuming, eating up our sense of well-being as it chases after fruitless living.

This is where awareness is so powerful. You can flick the switch, as a matter of course. It’s as though a part of you is firmly planted in awareness that you can plug straight back in. Or you might be there a lot of the time anyway.

But this is an important question to ask. Do you (or I) notice your lightness of Being. Do you become aware of light in your life?

And if you notice it, is it something that is outside of you, say apparently stimulated by something outside, like noticing it’s a beautiful day? Or is it inside?

The trick would be to see how that external awareness then connects with something in you, something that then lights up.

Like a rush of pleasure, a thrill in the sheer joy of appreciating beauty, the sense of inner joy expressing itself. This is when we can start to notice the Self at work.

The Vijnana Bhairava, an old Kashmiri text, says

Wherever a person’s mind finds deep joy,
Let it focus on that.
In every such case, the true nature of the highest bliss will manifest

This is such a useful practice. Whenever you notice a moment of joy, focus on it and let it grow within you. Allow that within you to be. Be very present with it.

Thus can your very essence sing in your heart.


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For when it’s all too much

I’m heading out of London’s Paddington Station going westwards into glorious evening sunshine, at the end of another unseasonably warm day. After last year’s later spring, we seem to be back to the pattern of recent years, spring coming a month at least ahead of traditional times, with trees opening into leaf at a rush and everything blooming. Just looking at all this, global warming-deniers must surely have a lot of explaining to do. Is our climate really changing, and at a faster pace perhaps.

Change comes fast in other ways too. There’s been a lot in the news recently about the continuing high levels of joblessness, and with growing inflation but stagnant wages a squeeze on people’s incomes, especially in the middle. The shakeout in employment in the middle classes continues, as their work goes overseas or is “re-structured”. The livelihoods of many seem threatened. The planet’s vibration has been accelerating too, and we seem to live life at a faster pace. More people report illness brought on by stress, and the incidence of and anxiety and depression continues to grow.

Whew! A lot going on. This is just a snippet.

Buddhism teaches that the one constant in life is change, the doctrine of impermanence, nothing stays the same.

So what has this to tell us about how the aware person might deal with these changing challenges?

So, as you are caught up (or not, who knows?), in the seemingly ever increasing pace of life or in change, now is another reminder (re-minder) time to….



Take in some deeper breaths. Let go. Be still.

Catch yourself back on the treadmill of the ego-driven life. Step aside from it.

Just notice your surroundings. Take it in. Be very aware of the present moment. Like, as I am, say heading out into the sunset of this glorious evening. Isn’t it beautiful? Be present with the experience.

And as you breathe in, take your awareness within, and allow yourself to connect with your still Centre of Being.

A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
.” (TS Eliot)

And as you are aware of your Centre of Being, and no longer engaged in the ceaseless churning of the pace of life or change, you are now at the centre point of the turning world, like the man on the middle of the merry-go-round at the fair. You are no longer attached to the way the ego sees things.

You are free.

So, how much longer will you stay there?


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Being someone

Have you had people say something like, “Come on, be someone!” Like you need to stand out, or step up, or cut a figure, so to speak. Like there’s an expectation for you to come up to some external as opposed to internal standard. Or, that you should be making your “mark” in the world, or have some ambition, or carve out a niche for yourself.

Continuing this week’s theme, being who you are, there might be a sense there’s external pressure on you, or that’s how it might feel, to make some external presentation of yourself.

Many would agree I think that the nature of what they do, or choose to do, requires them to be “out there” in the world, making some kind of statement. Some do it easily, but for others it is an effort. I know from my coaching clients, that many in corporate environments are finding they need to “raise their profiles” to enhance what they do.

In our behaviourist-dominated world, when much is down to your behaviour, or to put it another way, what others observe and report back to you or to others, “being” is equated to behaviour or what others experience of you.

However, it is scary stuff, requiring you to expose yourself, in a manner of speaking, reveal your vulnerability. I remember my tutor at uni telling me how teaching was for him about “selective self-exposure.” I also remember the effort required of me, so it seemed, to appear as a self-conscious adolescent in front of groups of my peers. My father enjoined to me by way of reminder, “Big smile!” So, I would put on a big smile, probably to help ease me into groups, whose acceptance of me, liking me essentially, was probably in question. Many do it as a matter of course, culturally whole groups, communities and maybe nations too. I’ve heard Americans speak of the “Pan-Am” smile in the US, for example, for them the standard big, cheery, welcoming but artificial smile. Over here the habitually self-deprecating British have been following the same way, albeit more slowly.

Yet there’s more to this. To “be someone” you need to promote yourself as well as what you offer. If you are developing your own business, “getting out there”, or developing your influence in organisations, seeking to get noticed by those with whom you need to build a relationship, or whatever, there is a self-disclosure task involved. You’ll need to plan and execute a whole campaign about your offering, your background, your qualifications, the benefits and whatever else grabs attention.

Scary stuff for those who don’t find this so easy.

So, the “being someone” piece for some of us poses challenges, I would suggest, unless or until we have found a way to come to terms with how we feel about ourselves, until there is a congruence between who we say we are and our actual “beingness”, our sense of ourselves. “Being out there” while still attached to some personal sense of inadequacy, self-doubt, lack of self-confidence, can make the process a struggle.

One who has a strong inner self-belief, who has a groundedness in Who they really Are, whose inner self feels very good, has a very powerful means of handling the inner wobbles that occur as their personhood makes contact with the populace “out there”. And those who feel as a matter of course that Who they Are is at One with those “out there”, that there is no disconnect between you and me, no sense of separation, is actually having another experience of the One. Fear does not apply here.

This is the fascinating possibility that exists for those who need to be very public with themselves, in contact with others, if they do their own journeying, and work on their own self-awareness around contact with others.

To find that there is no disconnect, that we are all One.