A time of self-examination and reflection based on body, mind and spirit.
Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday andLent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. It is time for a lent meditation.
Day 1 – Meditation
I am using this period of Lent, in 2015, to conduct a self-examination, a lent meditation. For me it will be a form of meditation on myself—physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. For you it will be an opportunity, perhaps, to conduct your own self-examination.
In my writing I often use a three-fold analysis as a way of coming to terms with how I look at myself and my life. In this series of meditations, or reflections, I will be asking three questions over the forty days.
The first is ‘Am I Aware?‘ Do I really know myself? Do I understand myself?
This may seem like a simplistic question but I know how much I have not acknowledged myself in the past. I know how much I have hidden beneath a facade that I thought would acceptable to others. I want to dig below that facade and find the truth. Of course, that begs the question, ‘What is the truth?’
The second question is ‘Am I Accepting?‘ Once I have what I see as the truth, do I accept it? Am I willing to take this truth into my life and let it be me?
This is a crucial question because if I continue to not accept what or who I am then I will continue to conceal my true self. I, like many people, indulge in activities to blunt the edge of my life, whether it is alcohol or dominance. The question is can I let go of those practices and just let my life be?
The third question is ‘Am I Authentic?‘ Does my outward life embody my inner life? Do I treat other people as I treat myself? Do I live the life I desire?
This is a more difficult question to answer because It is easy for me to conceal the truth from myself, it is easy to think everything is OK. While I am willing to let go of what other people think of me, I want to know that I am, at least, revealing my true self. How do I discover this?
This week I have confirmed for myself that I may be diabetic. I have signs, such as numb toes and high blood sugar, that have made me sit up and determine to look at myself in a more serious way. I have started a programme of changing my lifestyle, not because it is Lent, but because my future depends on it. This causes me to think about my body and my physical life in a deeper way. I will be looking into that in more detail.
I will also be delving into my intellectual life. This mainly shows itself through my writing. I realise that I think about this more than I do it. I have books in the pipeline not being finished. Do I understand why this is and what is going on here. My intellectual abilities have always been important to me, where can I take them.
Emotionally my life has been a roller-coater ride, much more scary than any ride I have taken. I think that I have dealt with the emotional issues in my past, yet this week I was triggered by a personal event in the past that I thought had disappeared. Why? What is behind this, deep down?
I like to think I lead a spiritual life, but what does that mean? Do I understand what it means to be spiritual, let alone how to live it? This is going to be the most fascination part of this journey.
Join me everyday, except Sundays, on this journey through Lent and through this exploration. Just achieving it is going to be a stretch for me although I know it is possible. I have done it before, several years ago and it still resonates with me and others. You can see the result here.
This previous journey came together as part of my book, ‘Journey to the Core of the Masculine‘.
- How aware are you?
- Do you accept what you are like?
- Are you authentic in how you live?
[nextpage title=”Body: Origin”]
Day 2 – Body: Origin
When I think of my body I immediately think of what is wrong with it. I think of what I do not have and what I have not been given—so I think. It is time, however, to really look at what I have been given, what I have to work with.
Let me get the imperfection over with so I can move on to a more positive view. I have a club foot. It is something I was born with, possibly caused before and during birth. I was a breech birth suggesting I got mixed up in my mother’s womb! It has left me with a slightly deformed foot and a shorter leg and foot. It is a bitch for buying shoes, my foot gets sore with exercise but otherwise it does not get in the way too much.
Two stays in hospital, at ages 5 and 10, rather coloured my view of my physical capabilities. Learning to walk again at age 5 is something I will never forget. I have a powerful memory of being in the lounge of our house (the smart room) after coming out of hospital. I feel surrounded by family willing me on. Whether I walked well or not I do not remember but I do remember that it emphasised my incapability in my mind.
Many years ago, when I was at school, we were made to take part in cross-country running. I hated it, I used to feel out of breath and felt that I could not do it. I tried to use my foot as an excuse to get out of it, without much success. I was left feeling that I had an inadequate body.
Looking back, with the benefit of hindsight I realise I was just being lazy, something I was very good at!
I have a niece with a beautiful daughter called Summer. Summer has cerebral palsy which means that a large part of her brain has been destroyed by a brief moment of oxygen starvation during her birth. The result is that she is effectively locked in a body without responses or connection to the world. She will always need to be looked after and have everything done for.
Summer is beautiful and tragic. She is a shining light in the world but needs the world to take care of her. She has been denied the right to use her body as nature intended. In comparison my disability pales into insignificance.
I have been given a body of power and strength. A body that can do almost anything, the only interfering factor being my mind.
My mother loved my thick dark hair and she thought I was very handsome. I have realised over the years how right she was. I have always looked good, and still do in my sixties. It has taken me many years to accept this, but when I look back at old photos, I can see what was there. My looks come from my mother who was an amazingly beautiful lady.
I feel grateful for what I was born with, even my imperfection. It brought me closer to my mother, who always blamed herself for it. I have never been physically prevented from doing what I wanted to do.
After leaving school I worked for many years as a technician and designer in the professional theatre. My speciality was lighting, and boy did I enjoy it. I climbed all over the walls of theatres hanging and focusing lighting fittings. I remember working on the West End production of ‘Evita’ in London. The show started in a cinema with a full size screen filling the proscenium arch. After the announcement of the death of Eva Peron the screen rose during the number ‘Requiem for Evita’.
It went up at an angle of 45 degress to the back of the stage. The top was a good 100 feet above the stage. All the lighting equipment above the stage was set above the moving screen. I remember standing in the frame of the screen as it was raised so I could access the lamps to focus them. I had no problems with this, or anything else I wanted to do.
The mind and the desire were another issue that I will look at later.
Come back tomorrow when I look at how time has worked on my body and whether that matters.
- Do you appreciate the body you were born with?
- Do you wish it was different?
- Are you using your body to its full potential?
[nextpage title=”Body: Time”]
Day 3 – Body: Time
Time has played havoc with me physically. I know you cannot turn the clock back, but it can be difficult to accept where I am in relation to where I have been. Why is this? Why is it not possible to just live with what happens? After all I see it happening to everyone else around me.
Tonight I was on a Google Hangout with seven other men. We are part of a virtual men’s group that has been meeting every week for over a year. Our ages range from 67 to 20, with a good spread in between. On it I was told that I am seen as a ‘wise old man’. That was not meant disrespectfully but as a compliment. I saw that but I still bridled at being called old.
When I was young I had thick black hair. When I was young I was slim. When I was young I had amazing energy. When I was young sex was powerful. When I was young…
Now I am old I have short white hair. Now I am old I am considerably overweight. Now I am old I tire easily. Now I am old the sex is not so easy. Now I am old…
Each day I feel I am no different, in essence, from the previous day, but over the thousands of such days I have changed almost beyond recognition. I must age with each day. I must be different every day. I just am unable to notice the difference until it jumps up and kicks me in the ass.
Does this matter?
In a way it does because I have never been prepared for this ageing process. I have always wanted to be on top, to be King of the World, to be better than yesterday. The happened, for a time, but one day, without me realsing it started to reverse. Now I see it and now I am trying to find a way to catch up.
I know the answer is simple, the difficulty is putting it into action, accepting it and making it part of my life. I am doing it but it hurts. It feels like I have lost what I was rather than being what I was an more. Intellectually I think that latter is the truth, but emotionally…
Recently I joined a men’s yoga group. We are all men in the latter stages of life, stiff and overweight. I struggle to do forward bends, in fact any kind of bend. I first started to practice yoga forty years ago and interestingly I do not remember being able to bend any better back then. I may have been slimmer with more energy but I was not more supple. Maybe not everything changes in the way I think.
One of the problems in being ‘old’ is that I see time running out rapidly at the same time as I see all the things I have not done in my life. It is not that I have not achieved anything or done anything. It is quite the opposite, I have had an amazingly successful and interesting life. The older I get the more I see what can be done, the more I see what is possible. The more this happens the more I have to let go and let life flow.
When I was young I thought I could change the world, now I am ‘old’ I see limitations all around me. The limitations are all in me—that hurts.
- What physical limitations do you experience?
- Do they annoy or upset you?
- What can you do to slow down the effects of age?
[nextpage title=”Body: Care”]
Day 4 – Body: Care
Yesterday I looked at how time has ravaged my body. More critical, though, is the effect my lack of care has had on my body. Bad food, alcohol, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, environment and attitude all play a part in my physical health.
My toes have been going numb. At first I just dismissed it as not important. As it slowly spread I started to look into what could be happening. It is a symptom of type 2 diabetes. No! That cannot be right! I cannot have diabetes! I am healthy and fit…
About fifteen years ago I applied for a keyman insurance policy to protect my business should anything happen to me. After a straightforward medical I sent off the application. The response shocked me.
I was offered a very high premium because I was at risk for diabetes. My blood sugar (the indicator for diabetes) was normal, so what was the problem?
My two brothers had diabetes, therefore I had a high risk factor, the man from the insurance company told me. The cause for my brothers was lifestyle choice, I told him, food, alcohol and exercise. I persuaded him that none of that was true in my case and that because my reading was normal in my early fifties I was clearly not going to suffer from the disease.
Yet here I am with symptoms, what has happened and what is going on?
I have started monitoring my blood glucose levels and, indeed, I have very high levels and am probably suffering from diabetes. Why?
Food and alcohol seem to be the main factors. I am overweight and have been for some time. I am technically obese, although I do not see myself as that. (That is a warning sign right there.) I have been enjoying myself and ignoring the signs that have been there every day.
Sugar is the big offender, sugar from alcohol and sugar from food.
I drink a lot of wine and beer, although I am not an alcoholic. I know about this because I have at least two family members who are self-confessed alcoholics with serious side effects, not least being the serious effects of diabetes, such as compromised eyesight. I do, however, drink more than the recommended levels. I enjoy my wine and would happily drink it with every meal. The problem comes from the excessive amounts of sugar this puts into me.
I love marmalade, mango chutney, chocolate and ice cream. In fact I have come to realise that I crave these ‘foods’—a clear sign of excessive blood sugar.
I have to change what I see as healthy and fit, it goes deeper than being able to climb mountains—something I love to do. I need to recognise my problems and incorporate the solutions into my daily living.
My lifestyle has become about enjoyment rather than care and the effects prove to be dangerous for me. So I have decided to change. I have instituted a programme of eating, drinking and exercise that is not a diet but is a lifestyle for the rest of my life. I am changing what I enjoy so it no longer conflicts with care of my body.
This is serious and this is a challenge. Reverse diabetes, reverse neuropathy (numb toes) and return to a balance in my body that I enjoy and that looks after me.
- What is happening in your body that you are not aware of?
- What is your lifestyle, what drives it?
- Do you have balance in your body?
[nextpage title=”Body: Change”]
Day 5 – Body: Change
In the last post I talked about changing my lifestyle, how am I proposing to go about this? What are the elements that come into play and what is the result going to be?
It is important that I am talking about lifestyle change, not going on a diet. Diets are temporary and rarely work. They are periods of suffering where cravings are re-inforced by denial. I have been through the loss-gain-loss-gain cycle before. I am not going to do it again.
I have experimented with the elements of the new regime before and am now confident I can make them work. It can be difficult at first, due to withdrawal symptoms, but it gets easier and more fun as it settles in. This does reuire me to be consistent though. As a commenter on the previous post said,
“I read your story and instead of wishing you luck, I wish you PhD = pig headed determination!”
The first issue to deal with is sugar. This is the biggest cause of overweight. The consequences that come with it are diabetes and potential heart disease. I have a sweet tooth and that needs to go. The major issue is the direct sugar intake—marmalade, mango chutney, chocolate, ice cream, biscuits…
The withdrawal symptoms from this can be severe, headaches and flu-like aches and pains. I have already started this and am experiencing withdrawal right now. This is a matter of persevering for a few weeks till the symptoms go and the cravings disappear.
I am interested in where the over-indulgence in sugar comes from. The classic view is that it is comfort food, dulling the edges of life. I think it is just an addictive drug. If so that implies staying off it to avoid the cravings.
Then there is bread and the amount I eat. I stick to wholemeal bread and in Europe it has far less suger than in the US. I still have to reduce the quantity I eat. Over the last couple of days I have not eaten any, filling the gap with salads and rough oat cakes. I have enjoyed although I feel a little constipated.
Thirdly I need to increase the variety of what I eat. I love making salads with a great variety of ingredients, I just need to make the time to make them daily.
Looking at drinking I need to deal with alcohol and coffee. I love them both but I understand that they are both drugs.
Alcohol I can just reduce and only have occasionally. Coffee I will stop drinking altogether. When I start drinking it I cannot stop, a clear sign of addiction.
I have planned a regime of vitamin and mineral supplements that will back up and supplement my nutritional needs. I have done this in the past but found it difficult to stick to the plan. This time I am working on the basis that the consequences of not doing so will be serious. This is tha last chance for me to get this right.
Exercise is the last element to put in place. I enjoy walking, running and cycling. I love hill walking ans cross country walking. I already do a lot of this but I find that my weight slows me down—a clear sign I need to reduce it. Running I will go back to when my weight allows.
I practice yoga and find it an enormous help in getting in tune with my body. I want to introduce more of it into my daily routine.
So the end result of all this in, say, a year’s time will be that I have lost at least 25% of my weight. As a result my blood sugar will be back within normal levels.
This is the lifestyle I am leading now and will build into my future regime. In the end it is about consistency and consciousness.
- What foods do you eat that do not improve your health and why?
- Caffeine and alcohol, how much are they part of your diet?
- Could you exercise more, do you want to?
[nextpage title=”Body: End”]
Day 6 – Body: End
In concluding the section on my body in this meditational journey, I want to look ahead. Why am I concerned about what happens to my body or how I treat it?
At my age I am conscious of how finite time is. I have lived a good many years and I want to live a good many more. I am conscious, however, that there is a limit to my life. I sense that limit getting closer. I am not concerned about it, I just want to enjoy the time I have and live it to the full.
I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do for the remaining years, how I want to live. Urmila and I have bought a house here in Spain. We are enjoying the process of settling in and re-creating it how we want it.
That gives a sense of certainty for our lives that neither of us have had for many years. It also allows us to move forward and develop some excitement and unceratinty in our lives. It encourages us to be adventurous and a little bit crazy.
I have been developing the idea of sustained, long-distance walking. The thought of it excites me.
The countryside in Spain is amazing, it is something I want to explore.
So I have developed the idea of walking round Spain. My current idea is to split the journey into four sections. Each section would take around six weeks to complete. As I live in one corner of Spain (the south east corner) I would walk one side of the country in each section. One of these would be the Camino to Santiago de Compostella.
The weather will only allow comfortable walking in the spring or autumn, so this project will take 2 years to complete. If I start in 2016 then I will complete it in my seventieth year. Planning is proceeding.
The key to completing my ambition is being fit, helthy and strong. That is where what I have been talking about over the last few days comes in.
Appreciating my body and changing my lifestyle to strengthen my body are essential. I have locked my future into this.
In my late thirties I received a phone call at work on my birthday. It was to tell me that my father had died suddenly over-night. He had a heart attack in his sleep and did not wake up. He was seventy two years old and was not ill.
He had lived a good life, but a busy one. He had retired to Scotland to relax and play a lot of golf. He was still young and not ready to die—and then he was gone. He missed out on many years of life with his grandchildren.
My grandchildren have just been born. I want to spend many years enjoying their company. I want to take them hill-walking around my house in Spain. I want to know them as they grow up.
Over these past few days I have become a lot more aware of my body. I have accepted its issues and sought ways to move forward with them. I think I live authentically when it comes to my physical life.
Now I just have to work in a consistent way to improve it.
Join me tomorrow when I start to look at my intellectual life.
- What long-term ambitions do you have?
- Do you need to do something before you can start them?
- What do want to be around for?
[nextpage title=”Mind: Conditioning”]
Day 7 – Mind: Conditioning
My mind is my own! I am in control of what I think! I can decide what I do and how I live my life! Or can I?
Whatever I was born with was soon over-laid with what other people wanted me to think. I was born with a sense of my masculinity, even as a baby. That did not last long. Parents, friends, teachers, film stars, colleagues all sought to tell me how to think and what to think. I thought they had good ideas so I listened to them. Was there anything left of me?
When I was eleven I was planning what Senior School to go to. There were alternatives for me to consider. The option from the state was either a grammar school or a secondary modern school, depending on whether I passed the 11+ exam. The grammar school was the better option. There were two other options which required me to pass special entrance exams. One of these was Manchester Grammar School (MGS), one of the best schools in England.
One day a teacher from another class came in to our class and asked us who was going to sit the exams for MGS. I was one of the few who put his hand up. The teacher looked at me and made a dismissive remark about what was I doing taking them. That hurt me a lot. She made the remark because my eldest brother failed the MGS exams and my other brother failed his 11+. What chance did I have?
I passed all five exams that I took that summer, possible because I was so angry at the teacher. I went to MGS and at least had good quality conditioning.
Problems arose at MGS because I had this remaining feeling that I was not good enough, even though I had shown otherwise. I had a residual view from my teachers that I was not an intellectual star, that I was there under sufference.
I realise now that this was just not true, but because I believed it at the time I made it true. Others conditioned me to believe that I struggled to understand what I was learning and that I would not amount to anything. I accepted this view.
I confirmed this when I failed to get a place at University when I left school at the age of eighteen. All my schooling had been a waste and all I had done was prove that the teacher, seven years before, was right.
I went into the theatre to do some physical work while I worked out what I was going to do in life.
In time I became a rebel and started to refuse to accept what people told me I could or could not do. I forged ahead and decided to make up my own mind. I became a designer and explored my creative side. I joined trade unions to explore my ability to discuss intellectual issues. I became a mathematician and explored the depths of pure thinking. I became a writer and put all this together into what I regard as the powerful intellectual basis of my life.
I am still seen as a rebel by my family. They see me going beyond the boundaries and forging a life which was not in the ‘plan’. I have come to love being a rebel because of how other people react to it.
This series of posts is a case in point. Many people think I am mad to expose myself like this. Yet when I get comments from readers such as the following one, I know I am doing the right thing.
“I have been really liking what you have been writing! I always do, I enjoy your perspective and ability to write about all of the experience of being a man, from raw sexuality to rarefied spirituality. And being nearly 50, I am relating to what you are writing very much, and am doing some similar changing myself. Always appreciate your insight and expression!”
The key, though, to looking at my mind is to understand what I have done with it. Come back tomorrow to find out.
- What did you believe about yourself when you were young?
- What direction did your life take as a result?
- How could you re-think your approach to what you think?
[nextpage title=”Mind: Beliefs”]
Day 8 – Mind: Beliefs
Out of the mess and confusion of my upbringing and education what beliefs have I developed? What has come out of this for me? Where has this led me?
I believe that I can control my life, that I can decide what I am going to do. I may not control the outcome, that is often in the hands of other people or the collective universal consciousness. What I can control is the effort and energy I put into whatever I do. Often that energy is enough to achieve what I want, but not always.
Some years ago I studied with the Oneness University at Tony Robbins’ resort in Fiji and at the Oneness University in India. One of the important lessons I learned is how to turn your intentions into reality.
It is fashionable today to use intention or manifastation to create what you want. Many people think that as long as you think something for long enough, or hard enough, it will happen. They are often disappointed when nothing results.
So how can you make the Law of Intention work for you?
This is where the teaching from Oneness comes in. They taught me that there are three elements in this process.
This is the part that everyone understands. I have learned that it is necessary to clearly state my intentions. I write them down and put them where I can read them often, where I can remind myself of them.
This is the tough part. I have to do whatever I can to bring the intentions about. It is not enough that I state my intentions and move on, I have to make them part of my life.
This is the part that comes from outside myself. This is the part that comes from my connection to the universal consciousness. This is the exciting part.
I believe that my mind has unlimited potential and that it is in my hands to develop and use this potential.
When I moved from the theatre to architectural lighting I needed to develop my engineering knowledge. I took a college course in architectural lighting. I became fascinated by the mathematical background to what I did. I looked back at my schooling and discovered that maths had been my best subject until the school dropped it in favour of arts subjects. I started a degree course in maths at the Open University in the UK.
I delved deep into pure maths, logic and systems and discovered a phenomenal world of thought at the edge of my understanding. It even touched on the basis of existence, something I had not expected. I finished with a First Class Honours degree, something I was so proud of.
Developing this potential has opened up the expanse of intellectual possibilities for me. This will never close down for me because I believe that the Universe has led me here to explore and help others to see what is possible.
I look at life from two perspectives at the same time, moving from one to the other as I explore what is before me. They are the big picture and the detail. I developed this approach working in lighting design. I used to switch between the concept, with the architect, and the installation, with the contractor.
I believe that this approach gives me a unique view of the world. As I gaze from 37,000 feet over the landscape of my ideas I see patterns and relationships that are not at first obvious. I link up issues and approaches that seem random and unrelated. I create magic. At the same time I see the finite details that makes each individual part of what I am looking at work. I can relate these details to the whole and help everything to mesh together.
I believe that this is a gift I have. To be able to look at a life, mine or someone else’s, see the patterns and work into the detail of what is happening.
I love playing with my mind and exploring its unlimited potential.
- What do you believe?
- What approach do you have in thinking about the world?
- How have you gone about developing your potential?
[nextpage title=”Mind: Writing”]
Day 9 – Mind: Writing
Writing has become my core way of expressing myself. Writing is my way to express my wants, needs and desires. Writing is about expanding my awareness. Do I achieve this?
After I retired from my profession of architectural lighting design I declared myself a writer. This was a statement of intent and actuality. I set about putting it into action but I am not sure I have achieved it. I think about writing, I even do some writing, but I cannot say that my mind is full time occupied with doing writing. What is getting in the way?
I can remember from my school days two specific pieces of writing that were good. I do not still have them, that is such a shame. One was an analytical piece on Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet’. It sought to understand and make sense of the play, no mean task. The second piece was a ‘creative’ piece about a trip I took to Yugoslavia when I was sixteen. It followed the course of my journey there and dug deep into my thoughts about it.
Since then I have used writing a great deal in my design work. I focused on expressing my creative ideas in words rather than pictures. I was successful at this and developed a language style to express my visual ideas.
I am writing four books but I am getting no nearer to completing and publishing them. There is an issue standing in the way of me getting them out there in the world. I know what they are about, I have structures for them, I have even completed a lot of the writing, but something is holding me back.
What are the issues?
This is a common issue with writers, but is not one that I have. This series of posts is a case in point. I committed myself to writing forty posts in Lent, each of at least 600 words. I created a structure of what the posts will explore and each day I write, relying on my intuition to create the piece. It works.
Until recently I was a featured writer on The Good Men Project, committed to providing a post a week. I succeeded in keeping to the schedule with high quality writing
This appears to be an issue until I look into the depth of what is happening. I do a lot and have busy days. I take physical exercise on a daily basis. I am learning Spanish. I am improving the house we recently bought. I read. The list of things I do is more extensive than this.
Time is a matter of choices and priorities. I decide what I focus on each day. I decide where I spend my time. If I choose something else over writing, than I have chosen that. Others have not imposed this from outside.
This means that when I make that choice it is because I am avoiding sitting down to write.
I do have an issue with consistency, with doing the same thing day after day. I am good at creating schedules and lists of what I am going to do, but I am no good at sticking to them. I understand that is a story I have about myself, but I do not know how to get beyond that story. This post is about trying to understand the situation enough to get beyond it.
It feels to me that this is at the heart of the issue. When I start to write, I delve into ‘stuff’ that will distract me. I know that this common for writers and that the answer is to write through the fear.
The book Your Writing Coach’ by Jurgen Wolff lists seven fears of writers:
- Fear of Rejection
- Fear of Inadequacy
- Fear of Success
- Fear of Revealing Too Much
- Fear of Having Only One Book in You
- Fear You’re Too Old
- Fear of Too Much Research
The first three are powerful for me.
I have chosen to expose myself with my writing and that exposure fuels the fears about me or my writing not being good enough. What a conundrum!
The solution is to keep writing and know that I am doing the right thing.
- What do you want to do that you are putting off?
- What fears hold you back?
- How can you work through your fears?
[nextpage title=”Mind: Intention”]
Day 10 – Mind: Intention
I looked earlier at intention and how to put it into action with intention, effort and divine grace. What is intention? Is it desire, need or just greed?
I have spent my life wanting things in my life. What they are has changed over time. At any time how do I know what I want. Where do the thoughts come from? What am I trying to fulfil? What am I trying to change in my life?
I worked as a salesman for an electrical wholesale company in Bristol, England. I spent time designing lighting schemes for some of my clients. I wanted to work as an independent lighting designer. One day I read in a magazine about a new lighting design consultancy that had been set up in Edinburgh and London. I remarked to a colleague what a great idea that was.
Later I left that job and went to work for a lighting manufacturer as a salesman in Edinburgh. I became disenchanted with that job and looked for something better. I saw an advertisement for a designer position at the consultancy I had read about a long time earlier. I applied for the job and got it. After a few years I moved to their London office, became a director of the company and finished as Managing Director.
In my view I had set an intention for this back when I first read about the company. I brought it about through a combination of my effort and the actions of the Universe. I based my intention on a desire to develop and improve my life.
I have had an intention to make money with online business for many years. This has not come about not because I did not put in the effort to create it but because I based it on a perceived need in me.
Need in this sense is a negative. It is a desire to fill what I see as a void in my life. I need money because I do not have any. Having it will not advance my life, it will just make it easier—I think. It is not about doing something but about getting something.
Intention is about harnessing my mind to create something and be something positive in mind.
When I worked for the consultancy I joined an international association of lighting designers. and became its President. As I fulfilled my intention to be a designer I also contributed to the development of the profession.
Looking back to the last section on writing I realise that I have not set any clear intentions. I have wanted to fill a void and gain some kudos in publishing some books. I will now go beyond this and set my intentions for my career as a writer.
My intention is to put what I know and think into print—physical and electronic—to put it out in to the world. I have a desire to fulfil my purpose of inspiring other people through my life and experience. I do this without any need to complete it but with a desire to serve. I will do my part by putting effort into achieving it and I will let Divine Grace do its work.
Deepak Chopra said,
“Inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfilment . . . intention and desire in the field of pure potentiality have infinite organizing power. And when we introduce an intention in the fertile ground of pure potentiality, we put this infinite organizing power to work for us.”
- What intentions do you have for your life?
- What is the purpose of your life?
- Do you act through desire or need?
[nextpage title=”Mind: Effect”]
Day 11 – Mind: Effect
The effect of the exercising of my mind is to enable my creative power to do its work. My mind connects with the Universal Energy to channel thoughts and ideas to express themselves.
In the grand scheme of things I am unable to know the effect of my contribution, but I know my contribution has an effect and always has done. I have experienced many examples of how my actions or my experience have inspired others even though I was not trying to do that.
I attended ‘Date With Destiny’, a Tony Robbins event where I spent five days re-designing my life. Later on in the event, at an open session with Tony, I stood up and spoke about the effect this was having on my life. I talked about how I had been trying to deal with the small screaming voice in my head. After I sat down I did not remember what I had said but knew it had been powerful.
The next year I was crewing at Tony’s introductory event, ‘Unleash The Power Within’. During a break I was walking down the aisle when a stranger stopped and told me that she recognised me from ‘Date With Destiny’. She remembered me standing up and speaking and thanked me for inspiring her. She amazed me but I realised the powerful lesson that was there for me.
My mind works to communicate some important issues and it does it often without me understanding what is going on.
My life works on two levels at the same time. There is the progression of life from birth to death. This is about living the best life I can. About creating and fulfilling intentions and serving the people around me, especially my family. At the same time there is what I call a meta-level of inspiration which works beyond my intention or knowledge.
I see this in the story of the bee. The bee flies from flower to flower fulfilling its life work of collecting nectar to take back to the hive to make honey. This feeds the Queen Bee and the young bees to ensure the survival of the hive. Unknown to the bee its destiny is to carry pollen from flower to flower to enabled reproduction of the flowers.
In working at the 37,000 foot level I enable people to see the patterns in life and to connect the dots in their own life. Whether it is about the sweep of history or the pattern of behaviour in someone’s own life I point out the flow. This is helpful in my work coaching or mentoring men. I help them see the relevance of masculinity in the world at large as well as seeing how they can seek their own masculinity.
I tap into the creative flow that goes through me. One of the great things about embracing creativity is being open to where it is going to lead. Intuition is about knowing something is right without proof or even knowledge. Its about connecting to our source and opening the channel.
The ideas I love communicating the most are the lessons I draw for people. These are lessons I drawn in my own life, lessons of being a man, lessons of relationship, lessons from failure and success. I outline these lessons for people who are unable to see them for themselves. I outline them because I am capable of teaching them in a clear and concise manner. I outline them because I am drawn to do this, because I sense that it is part of the purpose of my life.
My mind is a critically important part of me, one that I celebrate.
- What are the lessons of your life?
- How do you use your experiences?
- Do you celebrate how your mind works?
[nextpage title=”Heart: Emotions”]
Day 12 – Heart: Emotions
So far I have looked at my physical and intellectual aspects. I have found these understandable and, to an extent, controllable. My emotions, however, are less open to this kind of analysis and change.
My emotions come from deep inside me and deep inside my history. In many cases they are hangovers from events in the past when I internalised my reaction to what I perceived was happening to me. These were not reactions resulting from thought or decision but ones based on fear or defence. They are about protecting me and creating what I want, as a child, from life.
Early in my career as a technician in the theatre I took a job at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford. This was my second job and I was still innocent and unsure of myself. One of my roles was leader of the volunteer stage crew. I remember standing with them one day on stage talking about what we needed to do. They were messing about and being difficult. To gain their attention I hit one of them hard in the stomach.
This was a pure emotional response that had no logic to it other than to meet my selfish end. They were older and more experienced than me, but I was the one in charge. They were ignoring me and I felt I needed to do something about that.
Being ignored, being insignificant was one of my biggest fears. It terrified me.
Later, once I understood it, this proved to a route back, in my mind, to getting to the core of the issues with my childhood.
I felt ignored as a child, I felt that there was nothing I could do to get noticed without being told off. I remember my parents as distant, with their own lives to get on with. I realise now that I did not have a strong connection with them. It was not that they did not love me, they just let me get on with my life and thought that was alright.
I had two elder brothers who were not interested in paying me much attention. My eldest brother seemed to spend a lot of his time tormenting me and getting me into trouble with my mother. Nobody had any idea what was going on in my mind, or cared.
This has now become a story in my life. The truth of it I cannot be sure of. I have occasional memories, all of which are negative. I remember sitting in my room feeling lonely and unable to get on with my homework. The strongest part of the memory is not understanding why or knowing what was going on.
What I realise through looking at this is that I cannot trust my emotions, I cannot trust my emotional responses. They are the reactions of a young child who had no idea what was going on. There is no adult reaction here only the stamping of a child’s foot.
Emotional responses are often just the desire for fight or flight. For me this has been so true. I can list many occasions when I have done one or the other and not improved the situation. I have found the emotions flooding through me without wanting them. I only realise what has happened after I have reacted, after it is too late to go back.
In exploring my emotions over the next few days I want to explore what I have done to move beyond this type of response and how I can apply even more adult logic to the situation.
This week I was bringing my wife back from a hospital appointment. We were driving into Huercal-Overa looking for a Farmacia. I was trying to follow the directions we had been given and Urmila was pointing and giving confusing instructions. I blew up and reacted irrationally—why?
That is what I intend to find out.
- Do you know what your main emotional responses are?
- How much are you in control of them?
- Where do these responses come from?
[nextpage title=”Heart: Love”]
Day 13 – Heart: Love
Love is at the centre of my emotional responses. It is either the lack of love, the desire for love or the need for love. This is easy to confuse with the play of love in my life. What is love as opposed to the need for love?
I love my wife. I love to be with her. I love to talk to her, to be silent with her, to eat and drink with her, to have sex with her. I cannot easily define what is happening here and do not particularly want to. I think it satisfies a need in me. I know it satisfies a desire in me. We are like-minded people who have many similarities in our nature and in our backgrounds. We are passionate, exciting and comfortable together.
- The physicist: ‘Love is chemistry’
- The psychotherapist: ‘Love has many guises’
- The philosopher: ‘Love is a passionate commitment’
- The romantic novelist: ‘Love drives all great stories’
- The nun: ‘Love is free yet binds us’
They all make sense and yet none of them seem to answer the question. They touch on aspects but miss out on the whole.
One of the best definitions of love I have come across is from Osho. His concept of ‘Aloneness’ resonates with me.
“The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it is not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of the other person – without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other.
“Then why do they want to be together? It is no longer a need, it is a luxury. Try to understand it. Real persons love each other as a luxury; it is not a need. They enjoy sharing: they have so much joy, they would like to pour it into somebody. And they know how to play their life as a solo instrument.
“The solo flute player knows how to enjoy his flute alone. And if he comes and finds a tabla player, a solo tabla player, they both will enjoy being together and creating a harmony between the flute and the tabla. They both will enjoy it: they will both pour their richnesses into each other.”
Love starts with myself, with my ability to play my own instrument. This is the problem with basing my idea of love on my childhood experiences. As a child I had a need for love, a need that was not fulfilled in the way I would have liked.
I have spent much of my life seeking this fulfilment and failing. It is not surprising it failed, it was based on a false premise—that a relationship would fill the void and solve my problems. What did it do? It multiplied my problems.
The answer was to start to love myself, to love every part of myself. It was good to start with liking myself but that was not enough. I needed to love myself in all my aspects; good, bad and ugly.
My wife was talking to me last night about taking baby steps in achieving a difficult goal. She told me the story of a woman in a wheelchair who hated her life. She became determined to change this and start to love herself. She failed at this until she realised that she had to start small.
She sat, in her wheelchair, in front of a mirror and decided to love her eyebrows. Next day she moved on to her nose, and so on. Over time she had a remarkable transformation—she started to love herself. Then she was able to move on and appreciate the love in her life.
I have learned to love myself only recently, that has helped me to change the way I love others.
Now I find I can indulge in the luxury of loving another.
- Do you love yourself?
- Do you love someone else?
- Is there any connection between them for you?
[nextpage title=”Heart: Anger”]
Day 14 – Heart: Anger
Anger is such a powerful emotion for me, it has dominated my life and caused untold chaos. I was so unsure of myself that I used it to create the person called Graham Phoenix.
In the anger was confusion, hurt and a deep desire to know who I was. I was hitting out at those around me, blaming them for what I saw was wrong in my life. Anger was a powerful emotion that made me feel strong, even though it was an empty strength. I wanted those around me to bow down to my will and I knew no other way to achieve it.
I was running the lighting consultancy in London I had joined some years earlier. A woman who was a senior member of the team came to me and gave me her resignation. This surprised me, I had not expected it. I asked her why and her response shocked me even more—it was because of my anger.
It was not that I was taking my anger out on her, it was that my whole life was ruled by anger and she could no longer work in that atmosphere. She said that it was part of everything that I did. My phone conversations with suppliers and clients, my demeanour and how I treated some members of staff.
She was a quiet, peaceful person who accepted whatever happened and would always respond negatively to any hint of anger. This was still a nasty surprise. I could not dispute what she claimed, I just needed to reflect on it and do something to change it.
I have written a lot on this site about where this anger came from—see ‘My Father Was An Angry Man’. The problem was that it was still with me after all these years.
The conversation with my colleague started me on a road to beat this destructive emotion.
I had tried ‘anger management’ but it just worked on getting rid of it. Whatever technique I tried the anger just buried itself deeper in my psyche. It rose up so quickly and violently that I was not able to control it till too late.
I tried journaling and recording when it happened and what the triggers were. I became good at recognising the triggers and trying to disable them. They just shifted and became even more subtle.
Nothing changed until I took two specific steps. Together these altered my perspective on my anger, indeed on any negative emotion that I had.
The first step I learned from the Oneness University. It was to accept and embrace all of my emotions. I meant that I had to work on each one individually and welcome it into my life.
My anger was part of my shadow, that part of myself that I disowned and hid from view. This appears to work for a while but my shadow will always jump out and claim its rightful part of me when I least expected it. Like me it felt unloved and needed to express this. Bringing my anger out into the open and accepting it as part of me was a transformational step. It ceased to have control over me because I acknowledged and loved it.
Anger will always be part of me and my life. It is hard-wired into me in the same way my club foot is. It can still jump out and surprise me, but now I expect it and lessen its effect. It is no longer about the other person or what they do, it is about myself and that I now understand.
The second step I took at Tony Robbins’ ‘Date With Destiny’. One the last day I went through a process of integrating the changes I had planned for my life. I took the step of removing the sting from the tail of my anger. I stood in front of three other people and created my anger. I went into the centre of the emotion and expressed my anger. I created all the physical effects of blood pumping, headache, adrenalin and lack of control. The others thought I was serious and were worried about me. It took me a good half an hour to come down from the physical after effects.
I realised, as I watched myself go through this, that if I could so easily create anger, I could as easily not create it. That made such a difference.
- What powerful, negative emotion do you experience?
- What is the effect of this on your life?
- What could you do to welcome it into your life?
[nextpage title=”Heart: Clearing”]
Day 15 – Heart: Clearing
I find that there is always a mis-match between how I want to be and how I am. I can never permanently equate my heart with my emotions. My heart is where I want my emotions to lie. Why can I not marry the two up?
Urmila and I spend a lot of time helping each other clear our emotional patterns and baggage. It is almost a daily task to clean up what has come up during the day and leave us clear for tomorrow. I wrote about this recently in Each Day I Start Again To Clean The Slate. I used the metaphor of cleaning the front glass of a wood burning stove to represent clearing each day. This work is powerful but necessary.
The first step in this process is awareness of the patterns of negative emotions and responses. Even though I have spent years doing the work of clearing and understanding it is still easy to miss what is happening. I find it helpful to work with someone who understands me well enough to see what is happening. It is also important for me to work with someone I trust. Someone I trust to not make it about them.
I find that this step of awareness hurtful because I think that I have dealt with all this ‘stuff’. Awareness relies on openness and transparency to be effective.
Just today Urmila and I were in a shop when I received a phone call about a small bill that had not been paid because of the bank not paying a direct debit. Urmila made a comment to me and I made one back. They were both taken personally and we both responded with an edge. Where did those come from for both of us?
They were both connected to deep-rooted patterns that we both thought we had cleared.
What we both keep forgetting is what I said when I was talking about anger. We clear the emotions from our immediate surroundings but they remain part of our make-up. Clearing becomes about ways of dealing with the issues when they come up, as they come up. This comes from being able to step outside of the immediate reaction and see what is going on.
I have worked, for a number of years, with an emotional clearing process called emMatrix. This is based around understanding and working with the emotional matrix that makes up our bodies.
Our emotions are located all over our bodies in locations set up at some time in the past. Often they were created in childhood to deal with some emotional event that we sought to deal with. They remain there doing the work they were set up to do, even though the event and the issue are past.
They were set up and remain to serve our needs and work to protect us in some way. Frequently we stop communicating with them and end up ignoring them. This is what happens when we push emotions down that seek to protect us in a childish way. Anger, for example, can come from a desire to place a protective shield around us to keep others, who are a threat to us, out.
Sometimes their only way of communicating with us is through pain. In recognising this we can be drawn to respond to this communication and seek to understand what this emotion is trying to tell us. We can resolve the issue it has, resolve the pattern we put in place and allow the emotion to fade away, taking the pain with it.
As an emMatrix Practitioner I work with people to help them focus on their pain, identifying the emotion buried there and encouraging them to let it go. This is an effective process that can bring out and clear many deep-seated patterns.
When I am aware of what is happening in me I can use this process on myself and clear what is happening. I am now off to do just that…
- How often are you taken unaware by unwelcome emotions?
- Do you have a process for clearing these?
- Do you have a favourite process for clearing?
[nextpage title=”Heart: Living”]
Day 16 – Heart: Living
Winding up this section on my emotional heart I am thinking about the many systems that exist for living my truth and acting with emotional authenticity. What is a simple way I can look at myself, daily, and stay on track.
I need a method that is easy to remember, that is clear to understand and that is, above all, effective. I want to be true to myself and others on a daily basis, but I do not want to be breaking off to do a complex process. Tapping is a popular method, but I would need to do it in the privacy of my room. It can look a little weird to be tapping my head and face and talking to myself in a cafe!
One that I like is the ‘Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz. They are easy to remember and I can think them through in my head when I am with people. After all it is when I am with others that the triggers happen.
- Be Impeccable with your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid speaking against yourself to gossiping about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
- Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
- Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
- Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
The Four Agreements are:
These are powerful as a basis for life. Just taking the second and third to heart would transform my life.
I have found that taking things personally has caused more heartache for me than almost anything else. When I sit back and think about what is happening I know it is never about me. That is not always what I think in the moment.
Making assumptions is another way of taking things personally. When I assume something I take the arrogant step of thinking I know all the answers.
Looking forward I am committed to continuing the journey of clearing my emotional baggage and living my emotional truth. I will be open, honest and transparent in my dealings with other people, and with myself. I am committed to living true to the way I want to live and not live to satisfy the needs and wishes of other people.
I want to live in harmony with others and in community with some people, especially my wife. I will do this, however, with emotional authenticity. I will be authentic about myself and let others live their life their way.
This may seem like a selfish way to live, it is not. Once I stop projecting my emotional issues on to others, once I stop taking things personally, life with be clearer, for me and those I am with. I will be able to live in my power and inspire people with how I live with myself.
- Do you live with emotional authenticity?
- Do you live by the Four Agreements?
- How do you want to be emotionally?
[nextpage title=”Spirit: Seeking”]
Day 17 – Spirit: Seeking
I have been seeking all my life. I have always had this sense of looking for my home, my refuge. It has not been through a sense of lack or need, but through a sense of destiny. I have spent many years on this journey and then a few years ago I found what I was seeking.
I love the story of Santiago in ‘The Alchemist’ who travels to find a treasure he dreams about. On the way he learns to listen to his heart and that his Personal Legend, his heart’s desire, is part of the Soul of the Universe. He is a shepherd, living in Spain, who seeks his treasure in Africa. On a caravan to Egypt Santiago learns about a Soul of the World, to which all are connected and of the necessity of following his Personal Legend. He falls in love and he discovers that love comes directly from the Soul of the World. At the Pyramids he is attacked by robbers. Santiago tells them that he had a dream of a treasure buried at the base of the Pyramids. One replies that he has had the same dream, but in his the treasure was buried in Spain. Santiago realises that the treasure was back in Spain the entire time. Santiago returns and digs a hole at the base of the tree where he had had his first dream. He finds a trunk full of gold.
This taught me that what I was seeking was in me all the time. The spiritual heart that I sought was already there. This was not so much a re-assuring discovery as one that finally made sense. Like Santiago this discovery was not revealed to me until I was ready to understand and accept it. I needed to take my journey to be able to appreciate the power of what was in me.
I was at a Tony Robbins event, ‘Life Mastery’, when I met one of his trainers Connie Schottky. She said something to me in passing about looking forward to seeing me at another future event. Later I asked her what she meant by that. Instead of replying she directed me to a quotation in my manual. It was the famous quotation from Marianne Willamson’s book ‘Return to Love’.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I did fear my light and I realised that it was time to let my own light shine.
At the time I was President of the International Association of Lighting Designers. I had to make a speech, as President, at a conference about my tenure and what it had meant for me. In it I talked about the effect on my career in light and I talked about the importance of my inner light as well. It was a powerful moment for me as I united all aspects of my life and revealed what was truly important to me.
My continued spiritual development proved to me that I had found my buried treasure back home. It also showed me that I had touched the Soul of the World.
- Have you spent your life seeking something?
- What has kept you away from its discovery?
- What is your Personal Legend?
[nextpage title=”Spirit: Return”]
Day 18 – Spirit: Return
Yesterday I finished with: “My continued spiritual development proved to me that I had found my buried treasure back home. It also showed me that I had touched the Soul of the World.” What did I really mean by this?
The Soul of the World represents spiritual unity. It creates a Personal Legend for everyone. To accomplish mine I must tap into the Soul of the World. According to this view I am part of a single spirit and everyone is interconnected. In finding my buried treasure back home I had discovered that I was part of this spiritual unity and as such I was the source of everything. In touching the Soul of the World I had become one with it.
This can all seem a bit esoteric as it did to me for a time. Once I saw that these concepts are simply metaphors for something intangible I was able to see a lot deeper.
For me the Soul of the World represents what Deepak Chopra calls the field of infinite possibilities or pure potential. It is the source of energy that my own soul came from and will return to. I tend to call it the Source or the Universe.
In simple terms I came to understand that my soul, or spiritual nature, is an offshoot of a universal source of spiritual energy. When the time came for me to be born into my physical body I connected with what my purpose was in doing this by choosing the time, place and family of my birth. At the time of my birth I lost awareness of this purpose so that I could fully grow and integrate as a man. Inside though is a lingering memory of what I am here for.
My journey here on earth is to re-connect with that purpose and carry it out. I believe, though, that it is not necessary for me to consciously articulate what that purpose is because it will naturally be underneath all that I do. This means that what I have been doing all along is intimately connected with my reason for being here.
That reason is my Personal Legend, using the language of The Alchemist. In writing this piece and this series I am fulfilling my Legend. In working as a lighting designer I was fulfilling my legend. My return to myself was simply my realisation that I was already fulfilling my Legend. I no longer needed to seek not because I discovered what I was seeking but because I was there already.
The details of what I believe I am here for I will illuminate later in this look at my spiritual heart but for now I want to focus on the importance of this understanding of my journey here on earth.
In my years of seeking I had a feeling that my life was about more than just living in the period from birth to death. Yes, I wanted to feel that I was important. Yes, I wanted to feel that I was not just a biological accident. It was deeper than that. There was that hint of something already there, something that came with me.
To connect with that deeper sense I needed to read the signs that were put in my path by Source. My initial task was to become aware of these signs, to see what was in front of me daily. It was then important for me to accept their existence and what they meant. Finally I needed to develop a way of living that was an authentic representation of what the signs intended.
The book, The Alchemist, was a sign. My meeting with Connie Schottky was a sign. My work with and about men is my way of setting up signs for others to follow. My journey continues.
- Do you have your own sense of the Soul of the World?
- Do you have a sense of purpose in your life?
- Do you live your life in tune with these feelings?
[nextpage title=”Spirit: Power”]
Day 19 – Spirit: Power
Having become aware of the spiritual unity that I am part of and accepting that it is connected to my purpose what is the effect of that for me? What did I become? Was it worth it?
When I first started to host the ‘Men Alive Show‘ on the radio I was unsure of how it would work. I loved the format of radio and understood its power. I did not know how I would perform. The first show, with Jeff Brown, went well and I was pleased with the result. I had done my research and enjoyed the conversation with Jeff. As the show proceeded I came to see the power I had in this medium.
The effect of my spiritual discovery was power. This power came to manifest itself in all that I did. This power revealed itself to me as an integral part of me. It was a power that had always been there, I had just not understood it.
When I was just twenty years old I worked in Glasgow, Scotland, at the Citizen’s Theatre. I had left home two years previously as a shy, rather insular boy. Working as a Stage Manager I joined the Actor’s Union, Equity, and soon became a member of the Scottish Committee. I attended the Annual Conference in London as a delegate. During one particularly long and boring debate, I found the power to stand up and ask ‘that the question now be put’! This was a device to move things on. It was voted on and passed, and we moved on.
I had no idea where that courage came from. This pattern repeated itself over the years as I held leadership positions in different organisations and found the courage to step up and say what other people were only thinking. This always seemed at odds with who I was as a person.
The sense of power and courage came from my spiritual heart and was a central part of my soul.
After making this discovery I made a crucial shift as a man. I became aware of my need to be myself and honour myself. Through this shift I found my inner power and strength. The change this made in my life was dramatic.
My whole demeanour changed to marry up to what had been inside me all along. My voice dropped and I stood more upright. I finally believed in myself and was able to move forward to do the things that were important to me. Writing and broadcasting were just two of the outward signs of this new-found power. They now made sense to me as a part of my life.
The greatest shift was in my relationship with Urmila. She had seen my lack of belief in myself and found it off-putting. My shift was a revelation to her and a sign that I had found my place in the world as a man. This allowed the relationship to happen, grow and blossom.
The most important thing to come out of it, though, was my work on men and masculinity. I started writing for my web site malexperience.com, which morphed into this site, satpurusha.com. My writing on my experience as a man and my understanding of the issues of men in the world gained strength and power. This work moved into books and courses.
Through diving into my spiritual roots I found my heart and soul and started living an authentic life. My understanding of my purpose grew to the point, today, where I keep moving towards my intention of sharing my gifts with the world. I will keep doing this because I know it is what I am here to do.
- What have you done in your life that you are proud of?
- What does this reveal about yourself?
- What big shift has happened in your life?
[nextpage title=”Spirit: Source”]
Day 20 – Spirit: Source
I took part in a training programme to help me understand how my Source, or Soul, guided me in my life. This was an essential part of me accepting my spiritual development and growing in my ability to live authentically. What did this reveal about my Source and what guidance was I receiving?
I see my trusted source in three ways: as a part of me, ‘My Intuition or Soul‘; as a universal guide, ‘The Universe‘; and as a personal guide, ‘My Spirit‘. This ‘trinity’ work together to guide me and offer advice on what I should do or how I should react in different situations. I am aware of all three and that they are all part of the same Source.
The relationship I have with my Source is based on a number of conditions being met. Meeting these allows me to feel comfortable and in control. This is essential for me to feel able to connect with Source and to trust it. The basic conditions I need to feel are being met are:
- I check in regularly to get guidance from Source.
- I trust that what I hear is from Source.
- I am worthy to hear from Source and will recognise the guidance when it is given.
- I listen to the guidance Source gives and decide what to take action on. Source is happy with that.
- I know Source has my best interests at heart.
- Source provides guidance on my path and my purpose.
These conditions are fairly rigorous and are crucial to the relationship working. The two most important are that I check in regularly to get guidance and that I decide what action I should take,
Source will not take over my life and will not control my life. The guidance is given only if I go and find out what it is. I talked earlier about noticing the signs and becoming aware of what is being offered me. The signs are there all the time but it is up to me to notice them. I am at liberty to go through life my own way, closed off from what help I am being offered. To find and follow my true purpose, though, requires me to pay attention.
Having received the guidance, it is up to me to decide what to do. This is crucial and a central part of the relationship. What I am receiving is guidance not instruction. It is my role to weigh up what I am being told in relation to my life. I make the final judgement on what is important and what is not. I trust Source to have my best interests at heart but only I can be in charge of my life.
One of the first overt communications I received from Source helped to clarify the nature of this relationship. I include it, unedited, to help explain.
Graham: Where is this all leading?
Source: You are now starting to listen to us, having become truly aware that we are here waiting for you. We have been wanting to guide you forward for a long time but you keep shying away, fearful of not being good enough. Now you are letting go and stepping into your power, the power you have had for a long time, the power that is inside you crying to come out. This is leading you into your true purpose, the true purpose that has been waiting for you all these years. Your purpose is to teach, guide and mentor people along their path. You are seeking to work with men at the moment, but that’s just because that’s where you feel comfortable. Your work will go a lot wider than that, but that is in the future. Just rest easy for the time being because everything you desire is coming to you. In fact it is there waiting for you right now, you just need to truly accept it. Let go and flow, be open and free and it will come to you, more than you ever thought possible.
- Do you receive guidance on how you should be?
- Do you listen to that guidance?
- How do you go about achieving your purpose?
[nextpage title=”Spirit: Meditation”]
Day 21 – Spirit: Meditation
The way into my growth and development spiritually is for me to cultivate meditation. This simple act is responsible for so much change in me. What is meditation and how do I go about it?
At the end of a recent interview for a Telesummit on Personal Development for Men I said that a simple thing a man could do after the call would to sit quietly and sense his internal core essence. He could open up a space inside for his masculinity to come through. This is a form of meditation. It is meditation to get in touch with what has been hidden deep inside, with what is trying to break through.
This is easy to say but not so easy to put into action. How do I this? How do I touch my core essence and allow the space for change to appear?
It starts with sitting comfortably. For me this comes from sitting with crossed legs. It has taken me some time to get comfortable in this position, but I now find that it is the easiest way to keep my upper body comfortably erect.
“The meditator, having gone to the forest, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down with legs folded cross-wise, body held erect, and sets mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, the meditator breathes in, the meditator breathes out.”
I find that concentrating on my breath provides a powerful focus that is always there. It sits alongside the beating of my heart as one of the core rhythms of my body. I listen to my breath coming in. I listen to my breath going out. I feel my abdomen and my chest moving in and out. I fall into the flow of my body, the flow that is always there.
“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them.” (Greater Good Science Center)
I become aware of my thoughts and I have developed an ability to sit outside them and watch them come in and go out. I relax about the idea of clearing my thoughts preferring to acknowledge that they are there and ask them to leave quietly. I find it impossible to completely clear my mind of thoughts but I am able to sense the space beyond them.
It is in that space that I seek to dig down through the layers in my mind and in my heart. The layers that have accumulated over the years, the layers that I have taken to feel safe and secure. The layers of shame and guilt that have insulated me from the world outside.
I have developed a daily spiritual practice which I seek to do every morning. I do not achieve it enough but I do not criticise myself for that. Each day I start again to grow and develop my meditation practice.
My practice has a simple rhythm which enables me to fully integrate it within my life. It follows this process:
- A short Reading about Meditation.
This is designed to help me develop ideas about the practice and process.
- Some Pranayama, breathing practice.
Deep breathing excites my internal energy and wakes up my mind.
- A few rounds of Surya Namaskar.
This yoga series of poses, Salute to the Sun, stretches me and enlivens my whole body.
- A short Yoga practice.
A series of stretches that helps me to be loose and comfortable in my meditation.
- A period of Meditation.
My body is ready to dig deep, my mind is ready to open up and my heart is ready to receive.
- Reading my current Spiritual Book.
Often my meditation and my reading are in alignment. This grows my practice.
This practice is designed to take no more than an hour. When I follow it my day flows with ease and power, when I do not, I miss it.
- Do you practice meditation in any form?
- Do you have a way of getting in touch with your core?
- Would it help you to have a daily process?
[nextpage title=”Aware: Awareness”]
Day 22 – Aware: Awareness
I have been through the four aspects of my life, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual. As I have demonstrated they all reach their full power when I start with Awareness. This is the gateway to the opening of me heart, mind and soul. How does this awareness fit with ideas of consciousness?
Wikipedia defines self-awareness as “the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals. It is not to be confused with consciousness. While consciousness is being aware of one’s environment and body and lifestyle, self-awareness is the recognition of that consciousness.”
I have always had consciousness of myself and my environment but the awareness I have developed has set that consciousness in a context that enables me to make sense of it.
There are two systems of thought about awareness, or consciousness, which deserve a mention. They seek to organise our thinking about this subject and they provide good guidelines on how I can understand my own self-awareness.
The first is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This sequential list of human needs from the most basic to highest sets a context to help me understand what drives me and why. In order of importance they are Physiological, Safety, Love and Belonging, Esteem, Self-Actualisation and Self-Transcendence.
These are the basic needs I have for survival. My physical aspect looks in depth at these needs and how they can best be used to shape my current and future life.
Going outside of myself I see my need to feel safe in relation to the world at large. I develop ways of relating to others that holds them at bay focuses exclusively on my needs.
Love and Belonging
Starting in childhood I need to relate in a co-operative way with other people to thrive. Once safety is assured I need to develop a connection with others that makes sense of my life. This includes intimate relationships but also spreads wider. Much of my emotional make-up comes from here and from the need for safety..
Moving beyond love I need to feel good about myself. Self-esteem and respect are crucial in growing a powerful sense of self. I need to know that I make sense to others as well as to myself. This is central to my understanding of myself intellectually.
Maslow said, “What a man can be, he must be.” As a full frown man I need to exploit my full potential and realise what I am capable of doing and being. This involves looking back at all the previous needs and fully understanding, accepting and living them.
This is a later addition by Maslow. It concerns the deep need to reach a goal outside of myself, as in my spiritual needs. This one is crucial for me and informs much of what I do.
The second system is similar but places more emphasis on a person’s connection to others, to the outside world. It is called Spiral Dynamics. This suggests that we move through a series ways of looking at the world as we mature and grow in understanding. Culture influences and can limit how far we develop and grow through the levels detailed. Colours are used as simple guides to the levels
This is where people focus on their survival. They do not integrate with the world merely exist in it. The human race was here for tens of thousands of years.
This is known as a tribal mentality. People band together for safety, security and belonging. Life is all about the good of the group.
This is the level of the power god, the dictator. He uses others for his own ends. Purples, tribes, often end up being forced to obey a power god. This is classically seen in a cult.
This is again a group mentality where people follow the rules for the group. Religion is a prime example of a grouping which sets out rules for its existence.
This reverts to the level of an individual. It incorporates autonomy and independence. This is the level of the entrepreneur who seeks for gain and wealth.
Greens are about bonding and harmony. This is back to the group where universal togetherness becomes important. The rules are left behind and connections become important.
Back at the individual there is the yellow who believes in the flow of life. He understands complexity and the need for understanding and harmony.
This where as a group life is seen as an integrated whole. Connections through spirituality is essential as we are all part of the one consciousness.
I know I move around the needs and ways of looking at the world. using these systems as guides I can assess where I am on all levels and how I am relating to other people and the world at large.
- How do you see yourself in relation to the world?
- How are your needs being met?
- Do you have a way of assessing the context of where you are?
[nextpage title=”Aware: Matrix”]
Day 23 – Aware: Matrix
My self is a matrix, a jumble, of all that I have been talking about. In the same moment I am physical and emotional, intellectual and spiritual. I can never truly pin my life down to any one aspect or any one level of existence. How do I distinguish what to do or how to react in any situation?
Looking at how I climb a mountain I can piece together the matrix of how I evolve and develop moment by moment. Climbing mountains is something I love to do and it is something that stretches me on all levels. It takes skill, self-understanding and awareness of the context to be able to successfully achieve the peak, both of the mountain and of self-understanding.
Yesterday I went out walking with a group of enthusiasts to walk a circular ridge walk here in Spain. It was planned to be a 4 hour walk with a lot of climbing. The first hour was spent walking up the rambla—a dry river bed common in this part of Spain—at a cracking pace. At the top end we were due to start some serious climbing.
At that point I chose to go back down the rambla and go home. I had a great time walking back at my own pace. I enjoyed the surroundings and developed what I call a meditative walking pace.
I chose to go back primarily for physical reasons. My legs were complaining and the muscles were getting sore. I knew the route, having walked it last year, and I knew there was a significant amount of climbing still to come. If you have been reading all of these posts you will know that I am going through a significant change of lifestyle that I have yet to fully integrate. I have not yet fully built up my physical strength.
I understood my physical limitations and decided not to continue.
I had to find my courage to do that. I was with a group and was conscious of the potential for the group to judge me for dropping out. I rose above that and let my emotional reaction go.
I enjoy walking for the ability to be alone in nature and be alone with myself. This may seem like an anti-social reason for doing it but that is alright with me. I did not enjoy the push and the pace to achieve the result.
I decided not to continue.
On another occasion some years ago in another part of Spain I set out to climb Mulhacen, the highest peak in Spain. This time I set off alone excited by the prospect of topping Spain.
It was a tough climb that tested me physically. As I set the pace I was able to keep going and get close to the top. But I stopped before I reached the peak and turned back. This was a difficult decision to make and one that I had to make in relation to my own desire to continue.
Across the valley Urmila was sitting outside the Cortijo—a Spanish cottage— we were staying in, looking across at the mountain. She became concerned when she saw a deep black cloud settle around the top. She knew I was probably somewhere in the midst of it.
For me the black cloud manifested itself as a hailstorm that was sudden and fierce. I was not dressed for this type of weather and I did not have the equipment to brave it. I was so close to the top but decided it was not wise to continue, especially on my own.
I turned back.
I was aware of my own limitations and capabilities. I knew my intentions but was able to balance them against the reality of the situation.
In these situations it easy to blind yourself to your desire or intention but awareness, true awareness, can help you see beyond that.
- Are you aware of your full potential?
- Are you aware of your limitations?
- Are you able to balance the two?
[nextpage title=”Aware: Outside”]
Day 24 – Aware: Outside
In talking about turning back on a recent walk I had to deal with my reaction to the potential judgement of others. We are all subject to the judgement of others, whether it is spoken or not. How does my awareness speak to this and how do I rise above it?
Much of my life was influenced by what others thought of me. I had a desperation to fit in, a need for people to think well of me. Behind that I was frightened that people would see through that mask and see the real me. I always felt that who I was and who I portrayed to others were different people. In fact they were, but only because I chose it to be that way.
Before I became aware of this division in me I thought that what other people thought of me was the most important issue to deal with. My life was only worth while if they thought well of me. If they did not think well of me then I was doing something wrong, I was not good enough. Paradoxically, instead of pursuing this and seeking to know what people thought and doing something about it, I shied away, afraid of experiencing their judgement.
I always felt socially inept because I saw judgement in every reaction. I actually thought that people were focused on me and looking at me all the time. I did not work out that most people were like me, they were focused on themselves. The truth was more likely that they did not actually notice me because I did not put myself into their attention.
Many years ago I was at a crossroads in my life. I had been working in lighting design in the theatre and was trying to establish a career in architectural lighting. At that point it was not creative or satisfying and I was wondering where to go in the future. I decided to seek the opinions of those who knew me well in different areas of my life.
I prepared a questionnaire about what they thought I was good at, not good at, what my positive points were and what my negative points were. I was looking to get a rounded outside view of me. It took a great deal of courage for me to go to people and ask them to talk about me in this way.
A lot of people were embarrassed to do this, afraid of upsetting me. Many people responded with great answers, talking about about how amazing I was. there were those who were honest—I am so grateful to them for that—and there were those just thought I was mad.
It proved to be a powerful exercise, if only for the experience of doing it. The picture I got back was pretty much in line with what I thought about myself. It helped me to keep moving forward and achieve great things, creatively, in architectural lighting.
At that time I also went to a clinical psychologist and got him to prepare a report on my strengths and weaknesses and type of career he thought I should pursue. It was an extraordinary feeling having an outsider look at me dispassionately and professionally and provide a written report.
Now I am always interested to hear what people think of me and what I do. I love positive feedback and I am able to receive negative feedback. What is important to me is what I think. Feedback from outside is useful in creating guideposts for my future endeavours, but it is not why I do what I do.
Do let me know what you think, I do pay attention to it, even if I do not do any thing about it…
- Do the opinions of others matter to you?
- Do you seek or hide away from these opinions?
- How important is your opinion of yourself?
[nextpage title=”Aware: Inside”]
Day 25 – Aware: Inside
To complete the circle on Awareness I repeat the questions I asked in the beginning: ‘Am I Aware?‘ Do I really know myself? Do I understand myself?
These may seem like a simplistic questions but I know how much I have not acknowledged myself in the past. I know how much I have hidden beneath a facade that I thought would acceptable to others. I want to dig below that facade and find the truth. Of course, that begs the question, ‘What is the truth?’
To answer that question requires daily vigilance and a daily concern for my own well-being. The issue that concerns me most is how to carry out that process of daily vigilance and concern. Doing it for a time is relatively easy, but doing it continuously requires a complete shift of how I see myself and what I do on a daily basis.
I get a journal every year as a Christmas present. My intention, every year, is to write a page a day of my thoughts and my life. I have been on this trail for ten years now. The first year is more or less complete but later years are more empty than complete.
The year starts well and then peters out. There are months of empty pages with occasional bursts of activity. What is stopping me doing such a simple exercise?
I am aware of what is happening but I still have not got to the bottom of it.
I feel a resistance when I am writing in my journal. I love writing and am enjoying writing these daily posts but somehow using a pencil and writing on paper seems to be a different matter. Why?
I do not feel that the resistance is to do with revealing myself, after all I am revealing myself in these posts. Maybe, though, this form of revelation is carefully constructed with a structure I have control over. Writing in the journal is more freeform and has no structure, other than a day a page.
“If you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you.”—Madeleine L’Engle
I read this quote when reading about writers and journals. In the article Maria Popova said,
“Journaling, I believe, is a practice that teaches us better than any other the elusive art of solitude — how to be present with our own selves, bear witness to our experience, and fully inhabit our inner lives.”
That statement makes me want to get back to me journal and be with myself.
Andre Gide said, revealingly,
“A diary is useful during conscious, intentional, and painful spiritual evolutions. Then you want to know where you stand… An intimate diary is interesting especially when it records the awakening of ideas; or the awakening of the senses at puberty; or else when you feel yourself to be dying.”
A fascinating book on this subject is by John Steinbeck, ‘Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath’. He wrote this alongside his masterwork ‘The Grapes of Wrath’. In it he talks about the sole substance of genius being the daily act of showing up.
“In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration. Consequently there must be some little quality of fierceness until the habit pattern of a certain number of words is established. There is no possibility, in me at least, of saying, “I’ll do it if I feel like it.” One never feels like awaking day after day. In fact, given the smallest excuse, one will not work at all. The rest is nonsense. Perhaps there are people who can work that way, but I cannot. I must get my words down every day whether they are any good or not.”
I must get words down every day whether they are good or not. Here’s to habit…
- Are you truly aware of what is going on inside you?
- What daily act do you resist doing?
[nextpage title=”Accepting: Acceptance”]
Day 26 – Accepting: Acceptance
Acceptance is about bringing myself out of the shadows and being open about myself. Awareness has brought all the issues up and helped me to see what is going on, but that is not enough! Now it is time to absorb what I have discovered and make it mine.
I have three areas of acceptance to deal with: accepting my limitations, accepting my shadow, accepting that I am amazing. It is important that I absorb all three into my self equally. It is important that I do no just focus on what is easy and leave the rest until later. It is important that I have a balance between all three areas.
The first area is the easiest one to accept, I think this is probably true for many people. Accept my limitations.
On this journey I have talked about my limitations, such as my club foot. the physical limitations are difficult to ignore, they stick in my face. This does not automatically mean I accept them, but it does make it difficult for me not to.
I have found that the process of drawing them into my life means I can work beyond them. Once I accept their reality they cease to be limitations. They become guideposts for moving forward in my life.
My club foot is a limitation that could easily get in the way of my love of walking. It does not, it ensures that I organise it properly. I need to spend time choosing shoes and working out a plan of growth. If I do not do this it jumps up and cries limitation!
Accepting my shadow is more tricky. Shadows, by their very nature, tend to lurk just out of sight, pretending they do not exist. They jump out and project themselves onto other people I deal with. They put on a guise of being their problems.
There is clearly an issue of awareness here, but even with that sorted out the shadow tries to continue pretending not to exist. It takes a superhuman effort on my part to fully absorb my shadow and not project it any more on others.
“In trying to express only those aspects of ourselves that we believe will guarantee us the acceptance of others, we suppress some of our most valuable and interesting features and sentence ourselves to a life of reenacting the same outworn scripts. Reclaiming the parts of ourselves that we have relegated to the shadow is the most reliable path to actualizing all of our human potential. Once befriended, our shadow becomes a divine map that—when properly read and followed—reconnects us to the life we were meant to live and the people we were meant to be.”—Debbie Ford
I have hinted earlier that the most difficult area to integrate is the area of my brilliance. I am happy for other people to tell me how brilliant I am—and I believe them, at the time—I am just not sure I totally believe it myself.
Several years ago I produced an online course called ‘How To Love A Woman’. I wrote it, video’d it and marketed it. When I first made it available online I made just a few sales. I immediately crashed into a depression, trelling myself that it was no good and that people did not want it. It took some serious talk from Urmila for me to see how great the course was and that what was not working was simply marketing.
I immediately jumped into knocking myself down, thinking that I am not good enough rather than that I am brilliant but need to work on the details.
When I was a lighting designer I was totally happy with my skill as a designer, I knew I was great, but I always needed to work hard on the details to make the design great.
Thinking I am great is dangerous, though, it can lead to arrogance—but surely that is just a limitation…
- Have you happily accepted your limitations?
- Do you project your shadow onto others?
- What are you brilliant at, do you accept it?
[nextpage title=”Accepting: Judgement”]
Day 27 – Accepting: Judgement
I find the question of judgement in myself the most difficult issue to deal with. I find it difficult to accept that I judge others, yet I do. I find it difficult to see the projection of my issues onto others. How can I find my way through this maze?
In my men’s group I found myself getting angry listening to a much younger man talking. He was talking about other men and was telling us what he thought of them. I thought he was being arrogant for continually judging other men while steering clear of talking about himself and his emotions.
It was not until a day or so later that I was able to look at myself, just what I was asking him to do, and see the extent to which I was passing judgement. It was not that I was wrong, or right, it was not that he was wrong, or right, we were in the throws of passing judgement.
“You cannot judge any man beyond your knowledge of him, and how small is your knowledge.”—Kahlil Gibran
Indeed how small is my knowledge and how small was my knowledge of this other man. I was looking at my thoughts, my view. I wanted to know what was in him but I did not want to know his opinions of others.
I was projecting, of course. I was expressing my fear around the question of judgement. My fear of what others will think of me, my fear of being unreasonably critical of others.
In the Al-Anon group I attended many years ago I learned a simple process that helped me get beyond being judgemental—it seems I have forgotten it.
Al-Anon is twelve step group for friends and family of alcoholics. They come together to learn how to deal with having an alcoholic in their lives. The first thing I had to learn was to accept the alcoholic I lived with and let go of judging them. Like others, I went to the group to find out how to ‘cure’ the alcoholic. I was not told I was wrong, I just learned, through hearing the stories of others, that this would not work.
I learned to be non-judgemental in the group by not commenting on the stories of others. We were there to tell our own story and to listen to the stories of others. I came to help others simply by telling my story. They accepted that help by listening. We never judged each other.
This process was critically important because it was about finding that my answer was to let go of my criticism of the alcoholic. I could not change them, I could only change myself.
The classic statement on judgement comes from the Gospel of St Matthew,
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
I know this quote well, I have known it for many years, more than I can remember, but accepting for myself….
I can see its truth for others, but that is not the point.
As the song that Elvis sang says,
“Walk a mile in my shoes
Hey, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes”
- Do you find yourself judging others?
- Can you accept this behaviour in yourself?
- Can you accept how little you know of the lives of others?
[nextpage title=”Accepting: Beyond”]
Day 28 – Accepting: Beyond
Beyond accepting is living! Beyond accepting is flow! Beyond accepting is who I am meant to be and how I am meant to live. How do I move beyond accepting? How do I jump in the river and not drown?
There is a point where I move beyond consciousness of myself to allow the flow of energy to come through me. There is a point where I need to let go of everything that is me and just be a channel. I do this more often than I realise. I allow me to move into the background and a deeper sense of me to come to the fore.
When I am with a coaching client I find that the best results come when I empty my mind and I work on instinct, on what comes to me in the moment. I have, of course, my training and my experience behind me, I do not just do anything that comes to mind, I do, however, focus on what seems right in the moment. I feel the energy of the moment and I feel the energy of the other person. This directs me in the direction I need to go. I let logic go and let my emotions out to play.
A friend of mine who is a very experienced coach was sitting on her bed coaching a client over Skype. She had been working hard and was tired. In the middle of the call she fell asleep while the client was talking and when she woke up the client was still talking. She was not aware of what had happened when she was asleep or how long it had been. At the end of the call she, as usual asked how the client how it had been for her. She replied that it had been the best call she had had! Sometimes the unexpected yields extraordinary results.
“Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy. There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life—including ourselves.”—Julia Cameron
This openness, this energy, this letting go is about diving in to the flow of creativity. I have always accepted creativity into my life, indeed I have encouraged it.
Creativity is at the core of when I am at my best. Creativity infuses me with strength and energy and allows me to produce work that I could not have imagined on my own.
As a lighting designer I relied on my creativity to produce innovative ideas, and I was not let down. I was responsible for some stunning work that I am proud of.
As I was explaining above when talking about being a coach, my creativity does not come from a vacuum. It comes from the depth of my life and experience. It starts with my interest and fascination with the work of others. As a designer in the theatre my experience was embedded in my work as a theatre electrician. I spent years working with and for more experienced designers learning their techniques and the sources of their inspiration.
I integrated what I learned until it all fused into my own unique technique and method. There were ideas from other designers, ideas from my observation of nature and ideas from places that I did not understand. The ideas came, I put the down onto paper and saw them in reality—on stage. I then judged them visually and discarded the ones that did not work. This seemed like an intense process of natural selection that resulted in my great work.
This happens in my coaching, my broadcasting and in my writing. The more I write, the more I let go when I write, the more inspired I become.
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”—Steve Jobs
I agree, except that I do not feel guilty—I just flow.
- How creative are you in what you do?
- Can you let go and let what you do flow from within?
- What is the greatest work you have done?
[nextpage title=”Accepting: Truth”]
Day 29 – Accepting: Truth
What is the truth of who I am? Do I know myself at all? Can I accept all the parts of my nature or are there areas which are beyond my comprehension? What is truth?
I show something to another person, looking for a reaction. The other person is confused, does not react but criticises me for not being clear about what it is. I get angry and storm out of the room. What is happening here? Who is doing what? Is there a truth about the situation?
In Buddhist thought there can be seen two truths; Conventional Truth and Ultimate Truth. These are bound up with that elusive Buddhist concept of Emptiness.
Conventional Truth assess the physical reality of a situation or an object. In the case of the event above there is a physical reality of the existence of the two people, the relationship between the two people and the specific situation. That would seem to be fairly simple.
But it becomes necessary to add in the expectations of the two people, the emotional patterns of the two people as well as the energy of their interaction at the time of the event. Now it starts to become more complicated.
The Buddhist concept of Emptiness says that nothing in this event exists in its own right. There is no sense in which we can talk about each person being an independent reality. They both exist in relation to the other and in relation to all the other factors. In themselves they are empty because any meaning you attach to them can only be in relation to the other and to all the factors of the event.
So any sense of Conventional Truth can only be from a personal, biased, standpoint. So it can be seen as a truth at all.
Ultimate Truth is the sense that nothing is actually there at all. There is no independent truth. Ultimate Truth is Universal. There is no way you can view this situation that is true, that is without meaning attached, because there is nothing there.
On an intellectual level I can grasp what is being said here, but on an emotional level, I find it hard.
I know what happened, just as the other person knows what happened. To each person there is a truth behind that knowing. I also know that it is unlikely that the two truths will be the same. If a third person had been there to observe the situation they would have had a different truth again.
I know from my own experience that there is a fierce reality to my truth. I know what happened and would probably find it difficult to accept what either of the other two people saw as truth. This conundrum plagues the police in investigating crimes. This causes cycles of vengeance and wars because people are willing to stand up for their truth, they are willing to fight to the death for it.
I have come to accept that my truth is a personal truth not an ultimate truth. there is no ultimate truth. Nothing can be independently verified because the observer changes the phenomenon. This is not to be confused with the observer effect in Quantum Mechanics but has more to do with the simple effects of cultural interpretation and the fact that any shift in a situation effects people’s interpretation of it—the Hawthorne Effect.
So there is truth and there is no truth. What I have to take on board is that what ever I think is just my interpretation, my reality. To stand up for it, or even die for it, I need to test it against the truths of others.
This can be extremely messy and can not ultimately be carried out with a deep understanding of people, culture, emotions and many other factors.
- To what extent do you hold to your truth in a situation?
- How much do you look at the other person’s truth?
- Do you believe in truth at all?
[nextpage title=”Authentic: Authenticity”]
Day 30 – Authentic: Authenticity
Authenticity is such a hot potato today. People have such powerful reactions to any claim to be authentic. What is the issue with this? Why are people so afraid of claims of authenticity? What is authenticity?
The problem stems from people using authenticity as a badge of honour. If I reveal my darkest thoughts I can claim to be authentic. I am bad and admit it so I must be authentic. This, for me does not get to the heart of the matter. Authenticity is about more than baring your soul, it’s about being totally honest with myself and with others.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ―Brené Brown
If I really admit it, by Brené’s definition I am rarely authentic. I make choices every day and frequently those choices involve me in some measure of holding back, of not saying what I really think. This is not about telling the truth, I think I have fairly well debunked the idea that there is a truth. This is about being seen for everything I am, for the whole of me.
I rarely have the confidence to reveal every part of me. I have a lingering fear of being judged, that I have talked about already. I wonder what people will think or say if I reveal everything. I want to keep something about me to myself.
Even more important is the question of revealing everything I think about the other person. the classic question is what do you say if your wife/girlfriend asks, “Does my bum look big in this?” I am not even going to look at how I would answer this…
Why would I want to reveal everything I think about another person?
Perhaps I just think that to be authentic I should be honest about the whole of my thoughts. Maybe I think that they should know it all because it would help them? Maybe I am just arrogant enough to think that what I think matters that much?
“The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!”
This might be relevant and necessary in court but I do not live there. I live in the real world full of decisions to make about my interactions with other people. I make assessments all the time about me and others in order to create an optimal situation.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ―C.G. Jung
For me the answer is to leave behind all the stuff about thoughts and truth and follow Jung in becoming who I truly am.
This is not about what I reveal or what I say, it is about who I portray myself as. Do I create a persona that I set out as the real me or do I just behave as me, unadorned, open and honest?
I believe I say more by being silent than by speaking. I find that my energy speaks volumes. My body language, my facial expressions, my energy are all about me inside. Being authentic is about being congruent with what these say. Being authentic is just being.
“The authentic self is the soul made visible.”—Sarah Ban Breathnach
What does my soul say about me? having been through a process of awareness and acceptance I should be clear about my soul, can I let it speak for me? I hope so.
- Do you regard yourself as authentic?
- What does your authentic self say about you?
- Can people read your soul?
[nextpage title=”Authentic: Mask”]
Day 31 – Authentic: Mask
I used to regard the life I was leading as a lie. My fear was that people would see me as weak, indecisive and scared. We all have a Primary Question that we ask ourselves everyday of our lives, one that controls the direction of our lives. Mine was, “What if I’m found out?”
I regarded the life I was leading as a lie, a mask, an attempt to bolster my male power. My fear was being found out by someone, by anyone. My fear was that people would see the real me, the weak, indecisive and scared me. To avoid being discovered I put on a front of strength and determination. I hid behind a view I had of masculinity, of male power, a view that I thought protected me.
As I developed my view of myself and moved beyond this phase, as I started asking myself better questions, I found that I was left with a borrowed view of masculinity. I realized I was lost, as a man. My view of myself was based on an idea of being a man that I thought was attractive to women. I realized this was false when I discovered that the women I knew saw through this mask.
It was only when I looked closely at myself, when I discarded what I thought a man should be, that I started living as the man I am. It was then that my outward presence shifted, it was then I became just me, a masculine man, not a not pale shadow of a male stereotype.
The context within which I now see myself as a man is one of honesty and authenticity. Its not that they are necessarily masculine characteristics, but they do reveal a man in his true essence. My mask is swept away and what I now see as masculinity appears free and clear. Women see this and respond to the clarity. The nature of the masculinity revealed is personal to me. There is no one model, there are many forms of masculinity, all equally valid.
William Pollack said in his book “Real Boys’ Voices”,
“When boys speak about ‘being themselves’. Many describe a double life in which they are one person in public — a cool guy who plays fast and lives by the rules of the Boy Code — and somebody completely different in his private life, often a much more creative, gentle, caring sort of guy. Others say they can ‘be themselves’ only after they go home, go to their own rooms, and shut out the outside world. What just about every boy says he knows all too well is what I call the mask of masculinity, a stance of male bravado and stoicism boys learn to use to cover over their inner feelings of sadness, loneliness, and vulnerability, to act cool, and to protect themselves from being shamed by their peers.”
I now live way beyond the mask I wore when I was younger. I see myself clearly and understand the issues I faced through my life. I have successfully dealt with the issues and feel happy and relaxed as a man. I no longer worry about being found out, I happily let people see my true essence, see me as I truly am.
“Life is all about making a choice regardless what is thrown at you. Overcoming these so call obstacles that will assist you in becoming a better person. Go against the grain and do not just grow into that idol that society wants you to be. Fighting to keep your own image and standing fast for what you believe in is the only thing that counts.”—Fendson Dorvilus
- Is your life relaxed and peaceful?
- Have you come to a clear understanding of who you are as a man?
- Have you dealt with the issues you had when making your transition from boy to man?
[nextpage title=”Authentic: Wall”]
Day 32 – Authentic: Wall
I often felt the urge to exert control, the need to get people to listen to me. What I did not realise was that it was all about boundaries, my boundaries.
What took many years for me to discover was that I could only control myself, not others. To lead others I needed to be seen to be in control of myself. Learning to control myself, I realised, is about setting boundaries, something that is not as simple as it seems.
“There was a wall. It did not look important. It was built of uncut rocks roughly mortared. An adult could look right over it, and even a child could climb it. Where it crossed the roadway, instead of having a gate it degenerated into mere geometry, a line, an idea of boundary. But the idea was real. It was important. […] Like all walls it was ambiguous, two-faced. What was inside it and what was outside it depended upon which side of it you were on.”—Ursula Le Guin
I can imagine the wall being built, crudely, before the builder had any skills. It was rough but it was confident. When it came to the road, the way that was open and used by many people, it lost its strength.
The idea was there, the imaginary line, but it had not been marked, either with wall or gate. The line did not really exist.
This is what boundaries were like for me. They were built early because of childhood events. They were built before I understood their significance. They fell apart as I interacted with other people. I lost confidence and I became upset.
What I forgot was what the wall meant to those on the outside. I knew the inside, I saw it all the time, but I forgot that it looked different on the outside.
What I found difficult was how to see my boundaries from the other side. I resorted to blaming others for what happened. I knew my side, I knew I was justified in what I was doing, I knew the world was against me.
The world I saw, the world out there, I discovered, was the world I created. I saw the world as against me because I only I saw things from my point of view. I only saw the inside of the wall.
I attached meaning to the world I experienced. I reacted to the world I saw and created an inside world of anger in relation to it. What I didn’t realise was that I created that meaning from inside myself, from where I was hurting.
I needed to take control of myself, of my thinking and of the meaning I gave to things. To take control of myself I needed to take responsibility for what I did and how I reacted, I needed to see the other side of the wall.
I create my world myself, it is not created by the actions of others. This is a crucial issue, one that is at the heart of boundary setting.
I decide what I will do, not others. If I am doing what others want it is because I have decided to do so. I cannot blame others for what happens to me, and I can not punish them for it.
When I find myself getting angry, which is rare today, I know the wall has started to crumble. I know the way is no longer clear. It is time to get out the mortar and re-build my wall, on both sides. I need to take responsibility for what is happening and clearly communicate that.
I talk, I listen, I explain, I hear and I re-create my boundaries and, as a result, I am now a happy man and others respect me and enjoy my company. I no longer need to control others because I no longer attach meaning to what they do and I no longer react to them.
- Did you wear a mask in your life?
- What were you trying to hide away?
- Can you come out from behind the mask now?
[nextpage title=”Authentic: Openness”]
Day 33 – Authentic: Openness
I strive to be open. I seek to be myself. Achieving this can be difficult. It almost seems impossible. I have delved into my core, I have come out from behind my mask, I have re-built my boundaries, but there is something still there.
Perhaps I am trying too hard? Perhaps I am seeking and missing the solution? Maybe it is there all the time?
Earlier in this series I told the story of the shift I made in my relationship. I stopped trying to make it work, I stopped persuading. I just became me, whatever that was. When I got back home Urmila saw the difference, she saw the man inside.
Openness is the solution, the simple solution. It is about letting the light in to the man inside, letting the light reveal the simplicity of what is there.
Authenticity is about letting go of trying to be anything.
When I try I end up creating something that is not there. It is that creation that causes the problem. That creation builds something artificial on top of the internal reality. Holding the honesty of my internal reality is the simple solution to all the problems of connection.
The difficulty I create for myself is thinking that I know better. I set my mind to work and it takes what it sees and judges it. That judgement finds fault and sees what could be better. But that is only what could be better not what is.
Whatever I am is what I am, authenticity comes from the openness of letting that light shine through.
Of course I can always work to change things, to create new shifts, but that is to come. Today is what is happening now. Today accepts the warts and all.
When I attended Tantra weekends in the Netherlands there were many times when I stood naked in front of the other participants. There was no hiding there, there was no chance to pretend I looked other than I did. I would want to be slimmer, more muscular, have matching legs, but I was not and did not.
It worked because we were all standing naked and wishing we looked better, fitter, more attractive. But we did not. Our ability to be open with each other made it work. The trick is to take that idea and integrate it with the rest of my life.
I have been through the work of awareness. I have looked at every aspect of myself and found what I was hiding away from, discovered what I did not want revealed. I have been through the work of acceptance. I have considered all that I have found out and accepted it, become one with it, drawn it into my life.
Now the work of authenticity is before me. But this is easy after all, it just needs me to do nothing. I need to find the courage to just be me, I need to take on board the compassion to just be me.
“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness, It’s about cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think—No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking—Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”—Brené Brown
I am enough, I am worthy of love.
- Do you practice openness?
- Are you enough?
- Are you worthy of love?
[nextpage title=”Journey: Start”]
Day 34 – Journey: Start
Earlier in the series I wrote about seeking and returning, about how this had had a profound effect on my life. Looking back I can see the pattern of a journey in my life, a journey of profound importance to my life now and my life moving forward from here. Over the last few posts I am going to trace the journey and draw the lessons.
I was brought up in a normal middle class family in a comfortable suburb in the North of England. My family were Scottish although I was born a Sassenach (English to the Scots). My father was an accountant and company director with a large company and my mother was a mother and housewife. These were traditional roles in this period soon after the Second World War.
My parents had wide outside interests and a supportive circle of friends. They were involved in Scottish activities through the Caledonian Society. They even taught Scottish Country Dancing. While there were occasional arguments they were a happy couple who had a fulfilling life.
I was the youngest of three brothers and felt the effect of the masculine challenge from them and my father. My father was loving but dominant in his nature. That element made him a successful man, but sometimes a difficult man to live with. My brothers and I learned that need for dominance from him. This resulted in a challenging atmosphere for me—the youngest.
I felt little connection in my home life and buried myself in my own activities, such as the Boy Scouts. I felt lonely much of the time, riding my bicycle and pretending it was alright not to have friends. I remember once attempting to run away from home with a rucksack containing monopoly money and a bag of sugar! I must have got no further than about a mile from home.
There was always this sense of seeking, of there being something bigger that I could hang on to in my life. I tried to read the bible and listen to radio evangelists but they only feed the desire rather than answered the questions.
I went to a great school, Manchester Grammar School, but did not excel there despite my abilities. They were not to come out until much later in my life. I failed to get a place at university, a rare thing for an MGS pupil. This was the late sixties and there was not the plethora of universities that exist today.
My father was concerned about what I was going to do with my life and talked to me about helping me find work in accountancy or banking. I screamed inside my head at the thought of sitting in an office doing what my father did. Looking back I can see the rising of rebellion against my parents and my comfortable home life.
I had to do something to avoid this–hanging round at home doing some dead-end job was just not an option.
I thought about the thing I enjoyed doing at school—working with the Dramatic Society as stage crew or productions. I remember being annoyed when they said I could not work on the production of Hamlet because I was doing my final exams. Perhaps this was where I could go.
I wrote a couple of letters off to theatres asking for a job doing anything. The first letter brought a reply offering me a job. I did not care what the job was, it was work, it was adventure and it was out.
I shocked my parents when I went downstairs one evening and told them I was off to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. I was going to work in the professional theatre. They were also impressed and did not stand in my way.
With no idea of what lay ahead I left home at the age of eighteen and started my life. I faced the fear of the unknown, and discovered sexual awakening, drugs and a way out of the suburbs.
[nextpage title=”Journey: Shift”]
Day 35 – Journey: Shift
My jump off into the world of the theatre and rebellion was exciting and stimulating. But in the end it did not provide any answers to the seeking inside me. I still felt a loneliness inside despite all the people I met and worked with on a daily basis. I missed the connection at home, tenuous as it was. As soon as I could I found a way back into a form of that same life.
At the time my theatrical life seemed to last forever. After only five years I began what I later realised was a way back out of the danger and isolation inherent in that amazing life. I met a girl who swept me away with the power of her sexual connection.
I had not been bold enough to develop many sexual connections, even though it was everywhere—or so it seemed. When I fell into bed with my boss the experience overwhelmed me and I thought this was it. I was craving love and felt it in this relationship, I thought I had found what I had been starved of.
To her it was a bit of fun, but for me this was it. My first actual relationship and I was not going to let go of it. I found the dominating, persuasive power that I had learned from my father and would not let her go. She was bowled over and stuck with me.
In time we married and had two children, two boys, my own copy of the family I was brought up in. I had returned and created what I had hated for all those years, but I told myself it was different. We bought ever bigger houses with ever bigger mortgages. I moved from the theatre to a more normal job in a lighting company to make more money and spend more time at home.
The debt and pressure built up and I was till seeking, I had still not found any answers only more questions, more doubts. What was I doing? Where was I going? Was this it?
This lasted for more years than I care to remember. I developed a career in Architectural Lighting Design. I went into business and failed at business—twice. Although I had a great reputation as a designer I spent too much time trying to run a business. I even went to the extent of doing the book-keeping and running the finances.
I had not just fallen back into what I had run away from I had deliberately taken myself there. I knew I was doing what my father had done and somehow it seemed to make it alright—but it was not.
Our great marriage with the powerful physical connection broke down and fell apart. My wife blew herself apart with alcohol and I became lost in a swirling sea of anger, frustration and resentment. I had no idea what to do, but I did know that I had to do something.
Tony Robbins came to my rescue. In his work I started to see some answers, started to find the outline of a way forward, a way out. I was at a powerful event of his, Date with Destiny, when I saw my next step. It was Relationship Day and he was encouraging people to go back and work on their relationships, to make them work.
Then he said, “But, sometimes, after say thirty years, it is time to call it a day and move on. Sometimes you have to accept that it is just not going to work.” He was speaking to me, he was opening up the space for me to admit that I needed to move forward on my own.
I left home, sold my house and moved on.
[nextpage title=”Journey: Demons”]
Day 36 – Journey: Demons
I left home and went travelling—finally travelling for myself, not travelling for business. This was a return to the rebellion I had started by going into the theatre but it was one with freedom, with an acceptance of uncertainty. I was doing the travelling I had missed out on by going to work after school—I felt young again.
I was now finding answers, I was now diving into myself and seeing what was there. I was learning about myself, changing myself, growing and developing. I was developing ideas of how to use this in the world, how to use my learnings to help other people. There was no focus to it yet, but there was a power growing inside.
I did more events with Tony Robbins and became a Senior Leader with his organisation. In the year I left home I spent four months in Fiji working on his events. I had learned many skills in my life and was a capable person. I met a lady, of course, and jumped back into trying to create the comfortable world I had left twice before. This time it was to be different—but more on that later.
This time I was going to change my life. At the start of my journal for that year, 2006, I said,
“Life is changing, Life will never be the same again.—This was never truer than of now. The tipping pint for me is NOW. Never again will there be a day like today, never again will I put myself through the pain and heartache I did today. Perhaps it was necessary for me to experience one last time what it has been like and what it would carry on like if I didn’t change.”
My determination saw me through against the battles that lay ahead. I faced struggle, bitterness and rejection in moving forward but the move was right and the move was to transform me.
My wife was bitter seeing our life together fall away. I understood her pain. After all it was me who had pushed to bring us together, it was my persuasiveness that had created the family life I was now rejecting. I faced difficulty unpicking the life we had created together. Our boys were grown up, so now had lives of their own, but we still had to untangle the piles of debts and responsibilities we had created.
My wider family just did not understand what was going on. They thought I had become tangled up in a cult and could not understand what I was doing. Leaving my marriage was something that was unacceptable to many of them and they did not like it. It seemed like they rejected me and took my wife to their bosom as a clear signal of what they felt. That hurt me so much.
My lighting design business collapsed for a second time. I became involved in financial chaos as I struggled to earn an income and deal with the debts that seemed to be spiralling out of control.
I had new friends in the world of self-development, friends who helped me to see what I had to do. I had support in a way I had never experienced before, support from people who cared. They helped me see a way through my confusion and understand that my seeking was normal and was something that I needed to resolve.
Then there was Urmila. Was this a new chapter or was this just a descent back into a comfortable nightmare?
[nextpage title=”Journey: Adventure”]
Day 37 – Journey: Adventure
I had broken away from my old life and was busy forging a new one. Was this a new life or was it just a repeat of the same old pattern? Was I changing and renewing myself or was I just regressing to childhood and starting all over again?
I had burnt my boats behind me, there was no going back. I had divorced my wife, sold my house and had taken on large debts that I had no foreseeable way of paying back. I was travelling and not pursuing my lighting design work so my income was shrinking. The situation was getting difficult, to say the least.
I had met this amazing woman and was spending time with her around the world. We went on a powerful road trip through the south west corner of the US. We drove in a Mustang from San Diego to San Francisco via the Grand Canyon and Death Valley. This trip brought us together and made me think that we could have a fabulous future.
We had a synergy that excited me, and we had a great deal in common. We were both divorced and had been in long marriages with addictive partners. We were both renewing our lives and re-forging our relationships with our selves and with the world.
We spent time together in Fiji and in the US, so I invited her to the cottage I now rented up in the Derbyshire hills. This was going to be an interesting new departure.
In the relative isolation of my cottage I spent time talking to Urmila. I was helping her to see what a great relationship and life we could create together. We had so much in common and so much we would be able to do together. We were a perfect match, the answer to both our needs.
The answer devastated me and sent me back wondering what on earth I was doing. “I don’t need another girlfriend,” she said, “I can make my own mind up, thank you very much.” That was pretty final.
I was in a spin and did not know what to do. She did not agree with me, and she was on the verge of moving on, leaving me behind.
We talked and talked and everything she said just hurt more. She was putting me in my place and being told I could not change her view and it was time I accepted that.
I went on a trip to Seattle for a meeting connected with my lighting design business, which was still limping along, on its last legs. We talked by text on Skype throughout the weekend. I was trying come to terms with what was going on, trying to find out what she wanted. My well developing skills of persuasion has gone down the plughole, ineffective with her.
On the last day she was on the verge of calling it all off. In exasperation she told me to look at myself and become a man! The connection disappeared and we did not speak again till I got home the next day.
On the flight back I thought about what she said and realised it spoke to what had been going on throughout my life. I had been trying to create the life I wanted around me rather than just being me and living my life. I had decided what my life should be like and persuaded the world to fit in to that. It had not worked, yet here I was doing the same thing again.
I decided to make a simple but profound shift: to become me, to become a man, to live life as came to me. I let go of having a relationship and decided that I was either right for her or not. The best thing I could do was to stand up and just be myself.
What happened when I got back to Derbyshire was life-changing, and not just for me.
[nextpage title=”Journey: Strength”]
Day 38 – Journey: Strength
I left go of my neediness, I let go of my need. I found the inner strength to be me and to take my place in the world. I discovered that trying to re-create the world to what I wanted had caused all the problems I had faced in my life. It had caused the destruction of my marriage. Perhaps it would never have happened in the first place if I had not been this way. So what was my next step?
I arrived back at the cottage a changed man. According to Urmila my voice was deeper, my certainty was obvious, I had become a man. She had not been expecting this, she had already decided that this relationship was not going anywhere and it was time to end it.
She dived into a black hole of uncertainty and confusion, because of my shift. It was not supposed to be this way. She had spent some years trying to get the men she was with to go inside and find their masculine strength with no long term results. Here I was a changed man, a man who had found himself, a man who was willing to accept whatever happened. She did not know what to do, she did not know if it was going to last.
I opened up about how I saw the future and talked about what I would like to do, how I would like my life to move forward. She wanted to keep travelling and no plans to settle down and create a new settled life. She had been settled/trapped for too long to want to go into that again. I said I would happy to come on the road with her, to let go of my life in England and see where things went.
She ran away to Fiji, to the other side of the world in confusion. She had found someone who she now found herself attracted to and she needed to work out what to do.
I had shaken my world apart, I had shaken Urmila’s world apart, what was to come? How was I going to resolve my relationship with the world now that I had stopped trying to manipulate for my own ends. I was out there as me, letting life take its course.
I went to Fiji and Urmila and I started over again, spending time together getting to know the new me. We made a commitment and shared an apartment together in Fiji. This turned out to be an amazing time and an amazing experience. It transformed our lives and set us on a road into the world together.
We worked on events, travelled the world and found our lives merging closer together. We started house-sitting around the world, staying wherever we fancied, roaming the planet. We set up an internet domain, roamingbirds.com, to signify what our life had become.
I started to create a new life of work. I left lighting design behind after forty years and became a writer. I started writing in two areas, travel and men, eventually to focus on men and masculinity. I was invigorated by my shift into myself, by the idea that I had come home to what was already inside me. I wrote on this on my website, malexperience.com, which became satpurusha.com.
I started working as a coach as I explored my new freedom and my new ideas. Urmila stimulated my intellectual and emotional development and our relationship blossomed. Urmila started writing and exploring her femininity as we both spent more and more time together.
Where could this go, what could endanger it?
[nextpage title=”Journey: Return”]
Day 39 – Journey: Return
Urmila and I were travelling the world. We were creating new businesses and re-thinking our relationships with the world. We were free of our old restrictions and partners, and were looking to keep it that way. How could we take this forward? How could I follow my purpose in life?
We had agreed to take on a long-term, three year, house-sit in Spain. This was going to mean less travelling and that we would be creating a more settled life. We were having problems with money. We were trying to separate out our separate resources and incomes. We wanted to balance our expenditure so we both contributed fairly. We had spoken to a coach friend of ours trying to find a solution.
On the last night before we arrived at our house-sit we sat in an empty restaurant on the Mediterranean talking about how to resolve this matter. Out of the blue I offered a solution: getting married.
I suggested it tentatively concerned that I was just going back to my old comfort zone of family life. Was I reverting again, letting go of my new-found freedom? What would Urmila think, would she see it as an attempt to tie her down, against her wishes?
She was surprised, but liked the idea. We could still travel, we could still be free, it would just make life a lot easier. She accepted and we moved into the house in Spain and started to plan our future.
This time I was moving into a permanent connection in the full understanding of who I was and what I wanted in the world. In a sense I was going back to the start but with a completely different view of live. I was not being needy or seeking some kind of redemption. I was being me and moving forward, loving someone for herself and not for what she could give me. This was me finally on the road.
After we were married in Venice we settled in Spain and we are still here five years later. We have become residents and have bought a house here in the mountains. This is not an attempt at comfort this is creating a long-term future and life together. We both understand where we have been and we are both excited about where we are going. We love our life here and are stimulated by it.
This is not permanent here, or maybe it is. We have fixed nothing but we enjoy being together here in Spain. I am developing my life as a writer, exploring my thoughts and ideas. I am writing to inspire other people to look at and maybe re-think their lives.
Earlier in this series I talked about coming home, about finding the treasure back where I started. That is where I am now, back where I started but the difference is that I am not the same person. Yes, I am older. Yes, I am wiser. The real difference, though is that I have found my truth, I have unearthed my treasure, the one I was seeking all those years ago.
I have made many mistakes in my life, but I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to correct them, at least for myself. I have left people behind but I have also inspired people to live a better life.
That is my life now, to follow my purpose and inspire other people in their lives. I am no longer living for me, for my sole enjoyment, for my neediness. I am living for Urmila and our marriage, and I am living for the people I touch with my life and my writing.
Read the following articles to open up your perspective…
Other articles by Sat Purusha:
- Lent Meditation Series 2011
- When Was Your Spiritual Awareness Last Challenged? What Was Your Perspective?
Other relevant articles:
Image Credit: Flickr/Samuel John (Creative Commons)