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Where do I find faith?

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“Do all roads lead to God or must you believe in a specific faith to have your prayers answered and your dreams come true?”

A friend asked me this a while back, and I thought I would share the answer I gave her.

“I’ve found myself in this very dichotomy for a while now – partly because I came from a Christian background – it’s where my spiritual path started, many years ago, and so it ends up being my heritage. I probably relate to the Christian traditions more than to any other, even if my path is different now… but there are some key things that Christians believe that do not sit well with me. I have come to a place of peace in my personal faith, which is continually evolving and changing – but I am convinced that the only real teacher is the one inside, and the only place of truth is that which emerges from within. And so I don’t ask you to believe any of what I say – but simply to trust your own heart. Our heart is a wiser source of truth than we credit it with. And in the end, the big question – perhaps the only question – is ‘does this belief serve me?’ Does it produce the effects that I want in my life? If so, it is of value. If not, then I will choose to hold that truth more loosely and find another that does.

I have no way of verifying what I believe. All I know is that when I believe what I believe, then my life is better, of more value, and more meaningful – I am happier, more peaceful, more alive. 

And I also know that I am not being judged on whether I get these beliefs right or wrong – or even whether there is a right or wrong. There is just ‘what works’ and what doesn’t. A bit of me even suspects that ‘truth’ is a far more flexible thing than we can guess at – that seemingly different and contradictory truths may both be real.

So… where to start?

I believe that Christians are hugely correct with what they believe – and hugely wrong at the same time. For me, God is. There is nothing else. You, me, everything around us is that which we call God – or I prefer, somehow, Oneness, or Love, Infinite Intelligence, or the Universe. For me, in my head, somewhere in all of this ‘God’ has become this patriarchal entity in a robe and a beard.. and so it doesn’t help me particularly to use that word. Unless it does.

So when Christians refer to Jesus as the Son of God, I identify with that too… as a Son of God myself. I think that Jesus got further than most of us (maybe all of us) in terms of understanding the reality of that, and that’s why he could say ‘no-one comes to the Father (the source) but by me’ – by becoming as he was, by recognising the same within ourselves as he recognised within himself.. that ‘I and the Father are one’. (Now, to break my own rules (because I can) I think it’s clearer for context for me to carry on using the word ‘God’ here – but replace it if you will with anything that works better for you.) Because Jesus could see who he was, then he had the power to change reality.. but this is something that’s possible for each of us too.

Does that mean that God is strictly impersonal? No, although I think that there are principles of Life/God/Goddess that are pretty much as iron clad as gravity. So for me God is at the same time principle and personal. The more I explore this, the more I find myself stepping into a dichotomy… and I have learned to hold those dichotomies loosely, exploring what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes I envy the absolute and inherently simple faith of the atheist… and yet that doesn’t work for me. Because although atheists would say that the burden of proof lies with the believer, I think that’s just a case of perspective.. because I need something to explain what I feel in my heart – and to explain some of the strange things that seem to be true.

Now, I’ve always been frustrated by the fact that we were supposed to live lives that were as good as Jesus’ – but he had that one single advantage of being divine- of being the Son of God. No fair! But if we are all divine creatures.. if we are all One with a Universal power – then for sure, we can do more than Jesus did – as he promised we would. The clues are all there in the Bible: ‘I have said, you are Gods’…’all creation waits for the Sons of God to come into their own’… but it seems that the Church has diluted this truth, doubting what was placed in our hands, and giving it back to some super power outside ourselves. 

This may have been to exert control over the masses, and turn faith into some sort of frequent flyer programme – do enough good works, live a life that’s good, believe the right things…. and you’ll get to heaven. But it seems to me that heaven is already here, when we look…

For me, we don’t need ‘saving’ from some sort of ‘sin’. They surely can’t mean that I am cursed by the behaviour of two people who lived many many thousands of years ago? They surely can’t be implying that anyone who doesn’t believe the Christian way is cursed to a life of eternal separation from God? I cannot see this as the behaviour of an infinitely loving God. For sure, Christians will talk of how this is the only thing God can do, given mankind’s free will, but I don’t buy it. It all sounds like a control system to me… you can’t be happy now, but in a future life, if you behave yourself…? So I don’t see the need for ‘salvation’ to get me to heaven.. I do see there are ways that I have ‘missed the mark’ (the original meaning of the word ‘sin’) and failed to achieve what I set out to… but what I do see is that no matter what has happened or where we have failed, there is the opportunity to put that behind us and start again.

Your average Christian will respond to the question ‘how do you know these things are true’ with ‘because they are in the Bible’. There seems to be an awful lot of stuff in the Bible that they choose not to believe too, or that is in direct contradiction with other stuff…and so for me the only true frame of reference is what works for me. I think that’s the journey that everyone is on, by the way…

We don’t get to be ‘more spiritual’ by a relationship with Jesus. We are already spiritual. It is our nature. We are without the need to be ‘saved’ or to ‘see the light’ – we are powerful creative, spiritual creatures by our very nature, by virtue of being human. While a particular spiritual path may help in terms of a context for living, it’s not required. Each one of us has everything we need. 

So, I am not sure how I see the difference between the need for ‘a relationship with Jesus and worshipping God’ to get what you want.. or the concept of a fairy god mother. Is it that different? I think it was Cinderella’s relationship to the fairy godmother that allowed her to go to the ball (and, honestly, there’s an awful lot of spiritual truth in stories like Cinderella too).

I guess it’s easier, isn’t it, to say “God always answers prayer: he says ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘not yet'”… that’s so much more palatable than to have to try and work out why a seemingly impersonal law like the Law of Attraction isn’t working?! Sometimes this Christianity stuff seems a lot easier than working things out for ourselves.  

I guess if you contrast Christianity with The Secret, the Law of Attraction, or a whole raft of New Age beliefs… then those ‘New Age’ beliefs seem to put our power outside of ourselves, reliant on ‘The Universe’ or some impersonal ‘Law of Attraction’ to get the results we want. And I think there is some truth to those principles too… and yet by putting the power outside ourselves, we miss the point. Again. I think it’s true that what we think of tends to be drawn into our lives… although I do think that what we think we’re thinking may not be as clear cut as we think it might be. If we think about being rich, or being in a relationship, then what is at the heart of that thought is often the absence of that thing. Even when we use affirmations like ‘I am enjoying the relationship of my dreams’ there is a huge part of our being that says ‘ahem. No you’re not.’

And we put our power outside ourselves in practical terms too. We look at the statistics that say things like ‘99% of the world’s wealth is owned by 1% of the population’ (or whatever the latest statistic is). So, surely that 1% should divide their wealth more fairly? Hold on…I can’t find accurate statistics, but some research I did suggests that I am actually richer than 97% of the rest of the world. So maybe I need to work harder at making things fairer. We look at the hatred and violence in the world, but fail to recognise the same in ourselves when we get angry with those that have ‘done us wrong’. The power to change the world on those simple terms lies inside me – and the same power rests with 7 billion others.

I don’t think that God wants our worship (and I don’t see why that ‘worship’ has to be of a particular form either). I don’t actually think God wants or needs anything. There is a wonderful book by Neale Donald Walsch called ‘What God Wants’. He promises that Chapter 13 will go into detail on the subject of ‘What God Wants’ – and on reaching it, the chapter is blank.

I have a lot of time for Neale and certainly the first Conversations With God book, which blew away many of the cobwebs around our perceptions of God (as God himself says in that book ‘You got me all wrong’). As you might expect, I find some of his other thought at variance with what I feel.. but CWG book one and What God Wants are very helpful, as is Neale’s take on ‘The Secret’ called ‘Happier Than God’. And yet at the other end of the spectrum I have a huge amount of time for a pastor from Houston, Joel Osteen, who is very much a traditional bible believing ‘come to Jesus and be saved’ kind of guy – because, once I take that concept out of his language, much of what he says still makes sense, and fills me full of faith and hope.

Two men, from different ends of the spiritual spectrum – and yet both of them can speak to my heart and to the depths of my being. Both of them make sense to me (and yes, sometimes both of them contradict each other).

I see attempts to explain God in terms of quantum physics, and to show that perhaps quantum entanglement explains psychic phenomena, or the quantum observer effect explains how we affect our reality, or ‘everything is energy’ explains how we can attract what we want… and I think to myself that there’s actually more value in accepting that something much bigger than our science can perceive is actually running the show… that somehow what we perceive in terms of ‘energy’ is just the tip of an iceberg that we don’t have a frame of reference for.

I do think that one of the laws of life is the law of karma – perhaps not the Buddhist belief that we have to work off our karma over many lifetimes before we reach nirvana – but the concept that we get what we give. So yes, I do believe that if we devote our lives to giving to others, then we will find that we get more of that. Some of the happiest people I know are those who are giving to others selflessly. And that includes Christians and atheists alike. And that’s one reason why Christianity produces happy content people.. because it produces people who are giving. (It can also produce people who are hugely guilty, too, as they fail to meet what they perceive as God’s standard. And that really is one thing I hate about it – this concept of ‘the sorry sinner’)

I think what Christianity and other faiths have done is to create a framework that allows peace and happiness – to find a place where someone can ‘fit’ and explore a set of beliefs that give an opportunity for them to grow and become at peace with themselves. But if that framework doesn’t fit for you… if it doesn’t match what you hear yourself, and your own truth – then I think you are free to find something that does work. Take what serves you, let go of what doesn’t.

And in many ways I am drawn to a concept of magic… and I use that word because I can’t find a better one… that resides in each one of us because of our Divine nature, because we are each of us God incarnate. And I find that the less I have ‘wants’ then the more magical I become – it has taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that my financial problems have given me the freedom to be happier than I could have been chasing the dollar – that I have a huge freedom to do what I want, to explore some of this stuff. I am drawn to a concept of simply choosing to be at peace – not because I am meeting someone’s criteria for good behaviour, but simply because I am choosing peace. And that is magical.

I can choose to be happy once I place my criteria for happiness inside myself and not outside. As a friend of mine once said, ‘in Miami, the perfect summer’s day is when there isn’t a cloud in the sky.. when the breeze is just enough to cool the skin yet not to make you cold.. when the sun is just that perfect warmth – in London, the perfect summer’s day is when it’s not raining.’ Or, in other words, choose to have easy to meet criteria for happiness… not necessarily that I don’t have goals to be wealthy, healthy, to have adventures, to travel, whatever… but that not having those things does not affect my happiness. In this, I simply choose to be grateful for what is, knowing that everything is working out perfectly, that the path I am on is, even in its seeming imperfection, absolutely perfect..

All of those things I think is the long way of saying that I’m closer to a simpler understanding of spirituality then I am to the Christian dogmatic approach… even Christians find themselves struggling to explain a God who seems to have changed his character from Old to New Testaments – from a God of brimstone and retribution to a God of love and forgiveness. I do think we have to look below the stories to decide for ourselves what is true for us. If we’re happy with a ready made off the peg belief system, then awesome. Start living it. And some of us will be looking for something that fits our understanding better – that answers the tough questions each of us have.

Does that mean that I am picking and choosing the bits of the Bible that I believe? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. And for my precedent I cite the Church fathers at the council of Carthage who decided that the gospels of Mark, Matthew Luke and John were in, but the gospels of Thomas and Judas were out. I have tried to take my experience, my history, what I have read and heard and experienced, and create a synthesis that I can personally trust – something that has its own personal integrity – not taking the shortcut of a ready made faith handed down by someone else who has gone before – but by working hard at understanding what I personally believe to be true. 

So I live in a dichotomy – a space where I believe in a relationship with a personal God, a world of miracles and magic, of the impossible and the unexpected, and where I also believe that there are clear rules that run the Universe, principles which if we use them produce effective consistent results that are not at the behest of a capricious deity. I personally don’t feel the need to be ‘Christian’ or to comply with a set of beliefs and behaviours to be happy.. although I do know that when I make decisions and follow behaviours that seem to come from my heart and from a place of love inside myself, then I feel happier, more at peace, more fulfilled, more powerful, more magical, more alive, more ‘me’ somehow….”

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

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Go with the flow

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Read Time:3 Minute, 55 Second

When I speak or run workshops, one of the stories I often tell is about the Grand Canyon. It’ll be one of the journey time stories on the new audio programme I am putting together, by the way.  In fact, it’s about rafting the Grand Canyon, about taking a trip deep into the heart of the earth, deep into mystery, deep into the rock. It’s a journey that a helicopter ride or a stroll on the rim can never show – a journey that left me profoundly moved, profoundly changed – a memory that will remain with me forever.

I would tell the story of arriving at the top of the Canyon, where the Colorado river still skitters on the surface… about waiting anxiously as we stored our stuff into storage bins to keep the river out… just taking those few things that we needed during the day and putting them into ammunition boxes on the deck. I would talk about watching as the crew arrived.. you’d stand around, waiting to start – and you’d hope that you’d found a good pilot, a good leader – someone who had been there before, someone who knew what he was doing – and you would feel reassured at being able to tell, somehow, that he had been there..done that.. and had the certainty that whatever happened, he would be able to deal with it.

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As the raft sets off down the canyon, it’s almost leisurely at first.. the river gently drawing us all further in… the vivid blue of the water adding to the peace and tranquillity of a gentle ride through the rolling yet barren Arizona desert. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the river starts to carve a channel into the rock, as the Canyon begins to form – the continual flow of water creating a channel in the rock. As the raft goes deeper and deeper, the walls start to rise on either side of us, casting shadows onto the river. The river reveals layers in the rock, unlocking times gone past – layers that have been created over many years are stripped back so that we can see the story from the very beginning – revealing secrets that were buried in the past.

A river joins the Colorado, causing the raft to swirl and spin, and turning the bright blue of the water into a muddy brown, and causing us to pick up pace. The river grows faster and the flow of the water takes us further in, deeper and deeper into the canyon. A supernatural peace falls over this deep rift in the earth, as the water begins to ripple with suppressed energy.

Grand Canyon (173)

In the distance, a new sound is just present on the edge of our hearing – we become aware of something new, of something that creates both anticipation and concern – the roar of water over rocks, carving rapids through the uneven river bed. It’s hidden from view still, but the sound causes a tremor in our hearts – a thrill of excitement and joy as we move into the unknown, but with an undercurrent of concern as we step into something new, into a new part of the adventure.

As the raft drifts further, we round a bend in the river and in the distance the river seems to disappear in front of us – and yet although we cannot see where the river is going to take us next, we see the spray rising, a sign of danger and of excitement.

Grand Canyon (177)It’s a voyage into the hidden spaces – as the spray gets closer, the rapids are still concealed from us as we move insistently towards the sound, the roaring getting louder as we move closer to the edge of the unknown.. until the raft leaps over the edge and we find ourselves exhilarated as we bounce from rock to rock, drawn by the current. There seems little we can do, sometimes, apart from simply holding on, holding ourselves in place on the raft as we are buffeted by the implacable fury of the river – the excitement causes our hearts to leap in our chests as we shout with unalloyed abandon, the whoops of joy echoing off the canyon walls as the raft rebounds off the rocks and spins down into the deep pool that lies at the foot of the rapids.

Breathless, we spin round as the last energy of the rapids causes the raft to surge forward – the energy of the rapids creating a new current that accelerates our progress into the unknown – the first of many such obstacles in our new adventure has been passed and the journey of a lifetime has begun….

Grand Canyon (166)

 

 

 

[to be continued]

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Passport to Destiny

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Read Time:6 Minute, 46 Second

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A while back, over in my ‘Explore the Adventure’ blog, I told the story of how I lost my passport for the second time… and I promised you that I would let you know what learning I got from that incident. I mean, once is one thing, but TWICE? TWICE? So maybe there is something to learn here.

I happen to believe that the things that happen to us are significant, if we choose for them to be – they are messages, if we are open and listening, from a friendly Universe to each of us. Every whisper, if we are open to it, can be a message. The words of a song, the storyline of a movie, the words of a billboard – all of them speak. The insights of a child, or something you read in a novel – all of these can convey deep and timeless truth.

I have received insights from Lush cosmetics ("We believe in the right to make mistakes, to lose everything and to start again from the beginning") and from TV show Hustle (Mickie – "How does a man with my limited knowledge of the human psyche know when the time is right?" Emma – "He doesn’t – he just has to roll the dice and see what happens").

I also believe that we create our own reality – that what we think is ‘bad luck’ is something that we have actually created in our lives – probably unconsciously. We created it because in some way it serves us, or because in some way we have created the conditions for it to occur. What we don’t realise is that we are, in essence, supernatural beings with the power to create our own reality. But we are.. and we do.. and sometimes that’s unexpected.

So, what was there for me to learn from this? My wonderful friend Heather asked me about it, and I’ve extended and rewritten my answer to this – because in her asking the question, she prompted some thoughts in me. She has a habit of doing that. And I bounced it off another wonderful friend and colleague, Jackie (http://jackiewalker.me – exciting new product coming soon), who has a way of understanding the hidden messages with what’s going on who also gave me some wisdom too.

At one level, maybe it’s just about taking care of stuff, about getting organised, about not rushing around so much, about knowing where things are. At another level, perhaps it’s about paying attention to what’s going on – to not live in my little world of wonder quite so much.

But also, considering the other things I have lost, and the fact that I lost TWO passports. It’s almost as if I wasn’t listening, and so I had to lose my passport the second time so I would really hear the message. Is this from ‘God’ or from my subconscious mind? And what, Neale Donald Walsch would say, would be the difference?! And I think, too, we make up our own meanings – or in other words, I can choose what it means.

So after some reflection, this is what I believe – this is what I am choosing to learn from the experience.

There’s several threads to this. And as you read, maybe you will see some of your own patterns here, too….

I think I felt guilty about being able to have all this fun and freedom, to have this adventure be made possible by some of the things I got ‘wrong’ in my life – and so I sabotaged myself in the adventure… and I think I have also done that in a lot of other ways in my life too. I couldn’t believe that I could be so ‘lucky’ for this to happen – despite the fact that I created the opportunity through the hard work I have put in over the years that created the financial prosperity that allowed it to become a reality.

I also suspect that I may have created this simply to be a bit of a ‘victim’ – to get some sympathy from people, to have a story to tell. To create, as it were, a bit of a drama. And so a lot of the way I have chosen to respond to this has been about taking responsibility, about fixing it and getting it right – and deciding that I am in charge of my life, and I create the results from it.

And yet, also, I think that subconsciously, I the ‘challenge’ of travel had waned… and so I created something different to keep the excitement level up

I’ve learnt huge amounts about prosperity, about what being prosperous really means – and what it doesn’t…. and that is going to be coming out in new programmes in the autumn too.

I think too that there was a sense of being called to a ‘new identity’ – that point became a watershed between an old me and a new me – and hence my decision to use ‘Timothy Hodgson’ for my public persona.

I have also spent some of this time considering what is ‘new’ for me – how I can use this experience to be a different version of ‘me’ – that there is a huge amount of newness about it. I don’t want to go back to the UK and just go back to being who I was – I sense that I have shifted significantly, becoming more of who I really am, through this journey. We can choose this in every moment, by the way – to choose to respond differently today from how we responded yesterday… to choose a new version of Who We Are.

There was certainly a sense of ‘stop’ that needed to happen in the huge rush to get round the world – as if I was simply charging from place to place, and I needed time out to think. And that time out has been incredibly productive – I am really excited about what’s been coming out from the think time I have been having.

Have I met some important people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise? Maybe. Have I had some conversations that I would not have had otherwise? Certainly. Have I avoided a different disaster – injury or illness perhaps? Perhaps. Have I learned some important things that will help me in future? I suspect so.

At a fundamental level, I believe that this has all worked out perfectly – that exactly the right things have happened to me.  Certainly the end of my tour is a bit more leisurely – I have a month to get through Nepal and India as opposed to 14 days. It’s possible that I might get more time in Tibet than I expected while I wait for a visa. There is something that’s flowing in my heart that Tibet is going to be very significant in some way for me – almost as if the last few stops on this trip are going to demonstrate what it’s all about. I don’t know, yet.

There is meaning, if we choose for there to be, in everything that happens to us. From the ups and the joys and the exhilaration, the moments when we simply KNOW that Love is speaking to us in a different way – to the tough moments, the downs, the time we spend in despair. It’s all showing us something to learn from. And also, I am certain, in all of this, we are being taken care of. We are being loved, we are being held, we are being kept safe. Or, as one of my teachers would put it ‘Everything is Working Out Perfectly’.

Brambuk Centre (15)Just felt another picture would be nice – this one from Oz

 

I’m going to blog some more on this – to share a little of what I believe about the way we create our reality, and some more on hearing the whisper of the Divine too. So make sure you get those, and sign up to regular updates on this blog – it’s on the top at the right!

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Tuk tuks… a new perspective

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Read Time:2 Minute, 15 Second

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It’s funny how life’s lessons come to us through the most surprising routes. Regular readers of Explore The Adventure will have realised that a) I am fascinated by the varieties of tuktuks around… and b) that I am getting increasingly frustrated by the constant invitation from tuktuk and moto drivers ‘Hello… where you going….?’ which interrupts my thought process and also, I hate saying ‘no’ all the time. Until today.

I’ve had a bit of a perspective shift over the last few days – I’ve spent a LOT of time on this trip understanding who I am, and how much God/Love/The Universe/Life/Universal Intelligence wants to bless me and bring true prosperity into my life. I’ve been reading some amazing stuff by Joel Osteen, by Randy Gage, by Napoleon Hill, Robert Anthony and more of the real ‘prosperity authors’ of the early part of the 20th century.Of which more (a LOT more) another time.

But what I realised was that tuk tuk drivers are simply looking for an opportunity to be helpful. To be of service. Sure, they want to make a living, and they’re not above trying to rip you off (although I have to say that those in Cambodia have been very genuine and fair). I asked one to take me to the immigration office today, which is quite a trip (out to the airport) – he asked me for $7 and I got him down to $6 (because that’s what I had been charged earlier). When he found out I wanted him to take me back for another $5 he nearly passed out with joy. He got more money (for a trip back that he would have to make) and he didn’t have to hassle anyone for it.

So now, whenever I’m hailed by a tuktuk driver, I smile, decline politely and smile to myself at just how much this is, as Einstein suggested, a friendly universe, one that’s on our side. You see, if we think that everyone is out to take advantage of us… then that’s what we’ll get. If we think that everyone is on our side and wants to help us… well, then we’re going to see far more of that in our lives.

Anyway, I’ve started to notice how in all sorts of ways the Universe is set up to provide blessing and goodness to us. Actually, to give us what we desire. What we do, though, is to block that for various reasons. I’m going to be exploring that on this blog as we look to Journey Into Power and recover our birthright.

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If we have no peace . . .

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Read Time:5 Minute, 42 Second

. . . it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other (Mother Teresa)

One of the rules of the Universe is that whenever we decide to BE something (to be love, to be joy, to be abundant, whatever) – immediately we make that decision, the exact opposite will come into our experience. This is the Law of Opposites, and it’s designed so that we know what the true experience of being that is like. We’ve all come across this – when we decide that we are going to be joyful, then something appears which causes us some discomfort. We decide that this year we are going to be rich – and suddenly some sort of financial calamity hits us. And how many wealthy people only became rich AFTER losing everything?

There’s another principle at work, too. Because the Universe responds to our creative power, the energy that we are creating at the point of deciding ‘I am going to be joyful’ is one of recognising that we are not that (even if we intend to be. So the result in our creation is exactly what we say – ‘I am not yet joyful’. ‘I am not yet abundant’

Now, as we learn to control that, as we decide to be joyful no matter what, then the creation engine at the heart of the Universe gets the message, and starts to create what we are looking to experience – the Universe starts to catch up with us, if you will.

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So, perhaps it was a bit of a risk to declare that I really wanted to be peace – not only to experience peace on a day to day basis, but to be an active manifestation of peace to others – to be a peace bringer, a peace maker, a real source of true peace in the world. And it was especially risky to declare that when I was travelling…

You see, I had spent so much time in Buddhist temples, and with the easygoing people of Thailand, that I could actually feel myself changing inside. I began to KNOW that I had a very deep inner peace – not just for my own experience, but so that I could share that with others. And comments that people had made came to mind too – a previous boss who said I should work in the Northern Island peace process. A grateful event co-ordinator who realised that as soon as I turned up to help her get ready, everything calmed down. Friends who have commented on how much more safe and certain they feel after a conversation with me.. even if I have no wisdom, something about my presence and my energy is reassuring for them.

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Which of course left me ill prepared for what happened next…

While travelling on the ferry down the Mekong river in Laos, I found myself late for the ferry – worried we would be stranded in the middle of nowhere. Recognising what was going on, I took care to relax and to create peace inside myself.

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The fact that my friend found that she had lost her camera – just after the ferry had departed – did nothing to improve the situation. Although, within, I still felt a huge sense of calm, I knew that it would be so easy to simply give in to worry and panic. As the trip went on, it became clear that she had lost not only her camera, but her credit cards… fortunately her passport was safe.

We spent the evening trying to find her stuff – phoning back to a town where telephones were unusual, and English wasn’t their strong point. Eventually, after several hours, we gave up… by which time most of the restaurants had shut, and we hadn’t been able to get any money out.

So after a scant few hours of troubled sleep, we woke ready for the trip across Laos to the border at Vientiane. All our previous trips had been successful – and yet when we arrived in Vientiane bus station we were told that the bus to Bangkok left from somewhere else entirely. And there began a mad journey across Laos.. first into Vientiane town centre, where I realised I hadn’t enough money to pay the taxi driver… and a frantic rush up the street to the ATM managed to get us enough cash to pay him. Then we discover that the bus leaves from the border, around 10km away – and another mad dash in a tuk tuk. Change our money back. Pass Laos passport control. Pass Thai immigration. Negotiate with the minibus driver to get us to Nong Khai.

So, when we get to the bus station, there should be a bus ticket waiting for us, yes? No. I negotiated for the last couple of seats on the bus, got some more money from the ATM (inwardly cursing the travel agency) and turned round to see the ticket seller shutting her booth. Remonstrations didn’t help, as she slammed the gate shut – fortunately, the bus driver pointed me at another office… and we were on the bus.

And the next day wasn’t much better. It seems that in the course of taking money out of the ATM, I managed to lose my credit cards as well. fortunately, unlike my friend, I had spares… but the logistics of sorting all of that took the best part of the afternoon.

And then, finally… we couldn’t find the bus. Rather than trust the process, I decided to go off in search of the bus myself.. which meant that we missed the guy who came to collect us. Somewhat chagrined and sheepish, he met us later, and we made it onto the bus to Krabi.

So, what did I learn? Well, lots of lessons about organisation, for one – making sure I know where things are and taking care of stuff. Double checking that I know what’s going to happen when. Making sure that I leave plenty of time to get places – and making sure that I am not rushing around. Being certain that i know exactly what’s expected of me and what needs to be done.

I’m not the most organised person – but it just felt as if the Universe was saying to me… you’re going to need these skills in future – learn them now.

And, of course, i learned how to hold my peace when all around me was falling apart. Did I get it right? No, absolutely not. Did I do better than I thought? Yes. Will I live more deeply in peace next time? Yes, I will.

Life brings us some crazy lessons, some times – but I have been helped to remember who I truly am – and part of that is as a bringer of peace. And for that, I am grateful.

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On the road–warning… deep thoughts

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Read Time:5 Minute, 59 Second

Being around the Brisbane area has helped me see what it’s like for people who have found their lives ruined, and there was a huge sense of compassion that went out from me to them – to have your livelihood destroyed, to have everything you own taken from you: your home destroyed, your possessions lost or destroyed…. and I heard the echoes of my own experience too.

Many of you reading this blog have seen the incredible joy that I have had in the experience… how much, perhaps, I have grown through the adventure – the sights I have seen, the wonders I have known, the thrills and the joys I have had. And it has been absolutely incredible – I have felt hugely blessed through the experience.

Sunrise on the last day (18)

But there have been darker moments too. And it would not be truly honest of me if I didn’t talk about the tough times.

One of the reasons I am actually ON this adventure is that my coaching business wasn’t as successful as I would have wanted – although people who worked with me loved the results that they got, there weren’t enough clients to pay the bills. Marketing myself (and actually believing in myself) wasn’t a strong point. Although the books I had written were well received, with one coaching company wanting to make ‘Jump Start Your Coaching Business’ part of their workshops, and with a number of publishing companies very interested in ‘Free Your Mind’ – none of those ventures took off. I closed ‘The Inspiration Centre’ as a business in 2010. I see, now, having stepped away from it all, that I had been thinking too small, limiting myself – and so when I get back I will be wanting to do things very differently – with much more power, much more energy – and much more belief in who I am and what I bring to the world. Of which more another time perhaps. There are some very exciting things that I have planned.

The failure of that business led me into some financial difficulties too, mainly because I didn’t succeed in getting back to work despite trying hard (10 months of applications, and several months of Job Seeker’s allowance) – I’d been out of IT for too long, but overqualified for other opportunities. A failed joint business venture with a friend led to me choosing (very) early retirement just to create some security in my life. All of this, I know in my heart, is simply leading me to true mission and purpose – almost as if the Universe knew that if any of those things had been successful, then I would not have looked for something bigger, more dramatic – more true to myself, and with a bigger impact on the world’s stage. These experiences, although painful, have led me to who I am today – and so I embrace them as being stepping stones on a journey into my own truth.

So this adventure has been an opportunity to take a break from that – to interrupt the pattern, if you will.

And, really, that experience has also brought me into a deeper relationship with the Divine Force at the centre of the Universe. I do not believe I would be where I am without that experience.

So now, I have let go of my home, and most of my possessions – my books, my synths, some oddments of furniture are in storage.. but not much of that is really particularly precious to me. I have always been more about the experience of being alive – about the joys, the experiences, the people, the friendships, the impact I am having – about what I am BEING rather than what I HAVE.

So the whole process of stepping into this adventure has not been easy. Add to that the fact that I have had to leave my family behind, and have not been able to be there for them in some ways, has made this a very difficult decision to take. .. and on occasion I am haunted by the feeling that I am running away – and also that I can’t do much about starting my business while I am travelling.

On occasion I miss my family a lot – my boys and I have become very close over the last few years, and not seeing them has been hard. There are also people that I miss too – friendships that were growing, old friends that I have become very close to, the sense of family. I miss dancing, too, and all those wonderful people I know through dance.  And sometimes it does get really lonely.. and just knowing that there are people out there that truly care is incredibly important.

There is a sense that a lot of things are ‘on hold’ until I get back – learning West Coast Swing or Tango, my aikido and karate training, keyboard practice, runs in the park, cycling…

And it’s not all that comfortable sometimes while I am travelling. I’m not on a huge ‘do anything’ budget and I am living a backpacker lifestyle – dorm rooms,, noodles and pasta, watching the daily budget closely. (I discovered ‘goon’ or ‘boxie’ the other day – the Australians invented wine boxes, but you can actually by alcoholic stuff in a wine box which actually isn’t CALLED wine anywhere on the box. Needless to say, this will not be an important part of my shopping).

So, I can’t simply do whatever i want. There are days when I walk rather than take a cab, take the train rather than fly. There are days when I am counting the cents/pesos/ringgits..

And yet this experience has been amazing, and I feel like the luckiest man on earth. The people I have met, the things I have seen, the insights I have gained have been unbelievable. And I haven’t GOT to Asia yet. I hope I can bring it back and use what i have learned and what i have become to help others, I really do. And I hope that just the sharing of some of this adventure will help my readers to feel just that little bit encouraged.

So, for those of you looking on with envious eyes – there has been a price to pay to have this experience. There is a price that I pay every day that I am out there – and I wouldn’t trade it. I know I am learning and growing, I know I am exactly where I need to be right now, and I know I am a richer being for all of this.

Sunrise on the last day (15)

Often, the tough times are simply opening up something even greater for us.. I have so many friends that have said the same thing to me.. so embrace those moments and look for the blessing within. It’s there. Often, when our life looks like it is falling apart, it is actually falling together. Often, when things look darkest, it is just when we are about to step into something huge, beautiful and exciting.

For each of us, if we let it, life has something incredible in store – more than we can possibly imagine….

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In search of the spirit of Uluru

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Read Time:5 Minute, 21 Second

One of the places I have wanted to visit for a long time is Uluru… the haunting pictures of the rock, the aboriginal stories from the oldest living civilisation, the mysterious ‘Dreamtime’, the isolation of the outback… so what was my experience?

I sensed that part of the visit would be a passage from one part of my life into another – much as this trip has been, but at a deeper level. I sensed that somewhere I would learn something key to my purpose and destiny, for I do believe in those things – in, somehow, the calling and hand of God on my life. I sensed that there was something to learn, here, that would have a major impact on my understanding.

But it wasn’t where I thought it would be.

Uluru Base Walk (43)The first and pressing decision to me was whether or not to climb the rock. Part of me felt that this was truly part of my transition into the next part of my life – in the same way as the aboriginal youngsters would move from boy to man. And yet, as I looked into it, that isn’t what climbing Uluru was about – the rite of passage was ore around the base of the rocks, and a three year journey into the wilderness. And that, it seemed to me, I had experienced – three years of struggle, of hardship, of discomfort. Everyone who has lived a significant life on this planet has experienced this – from Jesus and Moses, to the disciples, right up through history. The people who have impacted the world have been those who have stared into the face of destruction and found that it can no longer hold a fear – can no longer limit them. The aboriginals knew this – the only way their men would prove themselves worthy of having a family would be if they demonstrated, in that harsh land, that they could fend for themselves.

And slowly, also, I realised that no place is more sacred than another – and every place is as sacred as another. Unless we choose for it to be different. Uluru is a sacred place simply because the Anangu have chosen for it to be so. It’s a good choice – visually stunning, completely unforgettable, a magical, wonderful, beautiful place. It’s etched with character – animals represented in the face of the rock in the Tjurkupa storyline, the ripples of a snake carved in the rock, the ashes of an ancient mythical fire staining the rock – so many creation stories (I will not call them myths, for that doubts their truth… and at some level, the aboriginal creation myths are true, revealing a deeper truth).

But, in truth, the world is what we make it. We experience the world through the filter of our beliefs. For many of us, Uluru is sacred. For many of us, Uluru is beautiful. For many of us, Uluru is magical. And I think that such places act as focii – points where we are drawn back to a deeper place, a more spiritual place.

Now, I didn’t say that all places were the same. Uluru has a huge, massive energy, and it feels as if the rock itself holds secrets and mysteries – truth that we can hear if we listen. I’ve found that in other places too – in Grand Canyon, in Kata Tjuta – and each of these also bring a huge sense of calming certainty – a real ‘groundedness’.

As I have blogged elsewhere, I chose not to climb. And, in the end, the climb itself was closed. And yet I still knew that something had changed inside, just being out in the bush. One of the girls on the trip handed me a clue that reinforced what I want to do – and, in truth, what I know that I love. I need to find out the reality of that, but the broad stroke picture is there. I found myself becoming far more the leader of that group than of others before, but also far more of a servant to that group too.

I did take on some of my shaman training – one of the things that a shaman Uluru Base Walk (12)will often learn is the concept of ‘grokking’ – taking on some of the characteristics of an animal, or of a natural feature. (The term comes from Robert A Heinlein’s ‘Stranger in a Strange land’). In Peru, they look at the three parts of man – the Condor, the Jaguar, the Snake.. and so I let the eagle within me soar to experience the heights of Uluru – to soar over the monolith, to experience the heights, while the Jaguar in me padded round the base, and the Python experienced the rock. Is it true? At some level it is for me. Because in watching the eagle in my imagination, I could at some level experience the rock from above – what it would be like to soar above it. In experiencing the Jaguar, I learned how to walk softly on the earth, to become more aware of everything around me, and yet poised for action. And in blending with the python, I learned how to be truly connected to the rock, to be close to it, and understand its lessons. Often we fail to truly experience what’s going on – and so these creatures helped me to know more truly what the experience was. In fact, I also put away my camera to more closely experience rather than attempt to capture the moment.

And I learned a little more about the power of story – how at a very deep level, story grips us, can hold us locked into where we are by considering our current stories as fixed – or move us into a place of creation as our new stories take us into a new place.

And so I found myself moving into a new level of teaching, even later that Sunset from Yulara (60)evening at the celebration party. And something, deep inside me, has changed – and it seems that I feel more in control of who I am, and what I am about, than ever before. Not dependent on the environment, on the place, or even on the others around me – but simply on my own connection to Tjukurpa – my beliefs, my Dreaming on this place – to Anangu – the people – and to Ngura – to the land, to the animals, to nature.

Am I wiser? More powerful? More confident? We will see.

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Under the sea

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Read Time:4 Minute, 42 Second

 

Doing anything new causes us to take a new view on things, helps us to look at the world in new ways – to hear God speaking to us, if you will. Even taking a different route to work can create a change in our perspective that causes us to see things in new ways – I’m certainly the sort of person who likes to vary things (a friend of mine called me a nomad the other day, and, like her, I do wonder about what things will be like when I get back from this trip).

I know that for me God speaks in all sorts of ways – sometimes I can feel a tingle down my spine, and I know to pay attention to what’s been said, or to what’s going on. Other times I feel a fizzing in my brain, almost as if I am connecting to another world, another dimension. Sometimes the voice seems so loud as to be a shout – but mostly it’s a quiet whisper.

Sometimes, for me, that voice comes in the words of a song, or the lines of a movie. Sometimes it’s in the pages of a book, or the voice of someone precious to me. But each time I am left in no doubt that God has spoken.

And it was like that when I was diving off the Great Barrier Reef. Now, I’ve been diving before, just a little – but this was the first real dive adventure for me, and also on one of the best dive sites in the world. I was excited, anticipating something spectacular – and also very conscious that God would use this time to speak some more to me.

Surface School of Fish

Diving is a magical, unique experience. The underwater silence creates a sense of being alone even when surrounded by other divers – the light makes it an other worldly experience, as the warmth of red light is absorbed by the water, leaving tones of spooky blue. Out there in the distance, just beyond visibility, might be anything – and so might there be down in the depths… as a certified diver at present I am only supposed to venture 18 m down, although I have ventured further with my instructor, down as far as 28m, and other divers can only manage 30m or so before the risks become too great.

Reef Wall

It’s a different world, too, with hills made out of coral in a thousand colours and even more shapes.. and wonderful creatures with unearthly shapes free floating above the landscape, or hiding under a rock – or even lying, concealed, in the sand.

Reef Scene

So diving, somehow, takes you out of yourself and into another world. And maybe all of us need that – some experience that takes us out of what’s normal, and forces us to think in new ways – to take a different perspective. The peace under water is astonishing – cut off from sound apart from the sound of your own breathing, the occasional sound of an engine, or the nibbling of parrotfish on the coral. Even surrounded by other divers, the solitude is incredible, lost in your own magical universe.

Turtle Silhouette

And maybe, like it did for me, as you stay open to things changing, your perspective will shift – so that the new world grips you.. that moment when the alien and threatening environment of strange creatures, the inability to breathe without assistance, the sense of being out of your safety zone suddenly shifts and you feel at home in the new world… and for me, the sensation of soaring, of flying over the surface produced a new exhilaration, an excitement of realising a childhood dream. Truly, I was flying – only the medium had changed, and I could even control how high I flew simply through my breathing..

And it was so important, too, to relax. Nothing is gained underwater by fighting the ocean… so breathing becomes slow and relaxed – the more peaceful the breathing, the longer it is possible to stay under water…and so resistance ceases, and we learn to stay in the flow, to go with what’s happening rather than force circumstances. We see what turns up – maybe there’ll be a turtle, maybe not – maybe we’ll find Nemo, maybe not, maybe a ray will flap lazily across the ocean, or maybe not… maybe there will be a special surprise of something unexpected.. who knows. But there’s nothing to be done to change it – what happens will happen, and for us, the thing to do is simply to enjoy the experience – to allow ‘what is’ to be absolutely perfect, to stop resisting and just glide along on the current of the experience. Sure, we have to keep an eye on what’s going on… but most of the time, if we just let what’s happening happening.. then the magic will be there…

Anthias

So, learn to go with the flow of what’s happening around you. Like the aikido masters who can use the energy of their attacker to create the energy to defeat them, we can use the power of the flow of what’s happening to enjoy the experience, to see the hand of creation in it – and to hear the voice of God, the core of the Universe, the heartbeat of Love speaking. And as we become more open to possibilities – then more possibilities are going to present themselves…

So the ocean seemed to be whispering to me… “learn to stay open…. learn to listen to your heart… and to your feelings….let things flow…and you, too, can hear the voice of God”.

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If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other (Mother Teresa)

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Read Time:5 Minute, 37 Second

One of the rules of the Universe is that whenever we decide to BE something (to be love, to be joy, to be abundant, whatever) – immediately we make that decision, the exact opposite will come into our experience. This is the Law of Opposites, and it’s designed so that we know what the true experience of being that is like. We’ve all come across this – when we decide that we are going to be joyful, then something appears which causes us some discomfort. We decide that this year we are going to be rich – and suddenly some sort of financial calamity hits us. And how many wealthy people only became rich AFTER losing everything?

There’s another principle at work, too. Because the Universe responds to our creative power, the energy that we are creating at the point of deciding ‘I am going to be joyful’ is one of recognising that we are not that (even if we intend to be. So the result in our creation is exactly what we say – ‘I am not yet joyful’. ‘I am not yet abundant’

Now, as we learn to control that, as we decide to be joyful no matter what, then the creation engine at the heart of the Universe gets the message, and starts to create what we are looking to experience – the Universe starts to catch up with us, if you will.

image

So, perhaps it was a bit of a risk to declare that I really wanted to be peace – not only to experience peace on a day to day basis, but to be an active manifestation of peace to others – to be a peace bringer, a peace maker, a real source of true peace in the world. And it was especially risky to declare that when I was travelling…

You see, I had spent so much time in Buddhist temples, and with the easygoing people of Thailand, that I could actually feel myself changing inside. I began to KNOW that I had a very deep inner peace – not just for my own experience, but so that I could share that with others. And comments that people had made came to mind too – a previous boss who said I should work in the Northern Island peace process. A grateful event co-ordinator who realised that as soon as I turned up to help her get ready, everything calmed down. Friends who have commented on how much more safe and certain they feel after a conversation with me.. even if I have no wisdom, something about my presence and my energy is reassuring for them.

DSCF1091

Which of course left me ill prepared for what happened next…

While travelling on the ferry down the Mekong river in Laos, I found myself late for the ferry – worried we would be stranded in the middle of nowhere. Recognising what was going on, I took care to relax and to create peace inside myself.

Mekong Day 1 (37)

The fact that my friend found that she had lost her camera – just after the ferry had departed – did nothing to improve the situation. Although, within, I still felt a huge sense of calm, I knew that it would be so easy to simply give in to worry and panic. As the trip went on, it became clear that she had lost not only her camera, but her credit cards… fortunately her passport was safe.

We spent the evening trying to find her stuff – phoning back to a town where telephones were unusual, and English wasn’t their strong point. Eventually, after several hours, we gave up… by which time most of the restaurants had shut, and we hadn’t been able to get any money out.

So after a scant few hours of troubled sleep, we woke ready for the trip across Laos to the border at Vientiane. All our previous trips had been successful – and yet when we arrived in Vientiane bus station we were told that the bus to Bangkok left from somewhere else entirely. And there began a mad journey across Laos.. first into Vientiane town centre, where I realised I hadn’t enough money to pay the taxi driver… and a frantic rush up the street to the ATM managed to get us enough cash to pay him. Then we discover that the bus leaves from the border, around 10km away – and another mad dash in a tuk tuk. Change our money back. Pass Laos passport control. Pass Thai immigration. Negotiate with the minibus driver to get us to Nong Khai.

So, when we get to the bus station, there should be a bus ticket waiting for us, yes? No. I negotiated for the last couple of seats on the bus, got some more money from the ATM (inwardly cursing the travel agency) and turned round to see the ticket seller shutting her booth. Remonstrations didn’t help, as she slammed the gate shut – fortunately, the bus driver pointed me at another office… and we were on the bus.

And the next day wasn’t much better. It seems that in the course of taking money out of the ATM, I managed to lose my credit cards as well. fortunately, unlike my friend, I had spares… but the logistics of sorting all of that took the best part of the afternoon.

And then, finally… we couldn’t find the bus. Rather than trust the process, I decided to go off in search of the bus myself.. which meant that we missed the guy who came to collect us. Somewhat chagrined and sheepish, he met us later, and we made it onto the bus to Krabi.

So, what did I learn? Well, lots of lessons about organisation, for one – making sure I know where things are and taking care of stuff. Double checking that I know what’s going to happen when. Making sure that I leave plenty of time to get places – and making sure that I am not rushing around. Being certain that i know exactly what’s expected of me and what needs to be done.

I’m not the most organised person – but it just felt as if the Universe was saying to me… you’re going to need these skills in future – learn them now.

And, of course, i learned how to hold my peace when all around me was falling apart. Did I get it right? No, absolutely not. Did I do better than I thought? Yes. Will I live more deeply in peace next time? Yes, I will.

Life brings us some crazy lessons, some times – but I have been helped to remember who I truly am – and part of that is as a bringer of peace. And for that, I am grateful.

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Under the sea

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Read Time:4 Minute, 42 Second

 

Doing anything new causes us to take a new view on things, helps us to look at the world in new ways – to hear God speaking to us, if you will. Even taking a different route to work can create a change in our perspective that causes us to see things in new ways – I’m certainly the sort of person who likes to vary things (a friend of mine called me a nomad the other day, and, like her, I do wonder about what things will be like when I get back from this trip).

I know that for me God speaks in all sorts of ways – sometimes I can feel a tingle down my spine, and I know to pay attention to what’s been said, or to what’s going on. Other times I feel a fizzing in my brain, almost as if I am connecting to another world, another dimension. Sometimes the voice seems so loud as to be a shout – but mostly it’s a quiet whisper.

Sometimes, for me, that voice comes in the words of a song, or the lines of a movie. Sometimes it’s in the pages of a book, or the voice of someone precious to me. But each time I am left in no doubt that God has spoken.

And it was like that when I was diving off the Great Barrier Reef. Now, I’ve been diving before, just a little – but this was the first real dive adventure for me, and also on one of the best dive sites in the world. I was excited, anticipating something spectacular – and also very conscious that God would use this time to speak some more to me.

Surface School of Fish

Diving is a magical, unique experience. The underwater silence creates a sense of being alone even when surrounded by other divers – the light makes it an other worldly experience, as the warmth of red light is absorbed by the water, leaving tones of spooky blue. Out there in the distance, just beyond visibility, might be anything – and so might there be down in the depths… as a certified diver at present I am only supposed to venture 18 m down, although I have ventured further with my instructor, down as far as 28m, and other divers can only manage 30m or so before the risks become too great.

Reef Wall

It’s a different world, too, with hills made out of coral in a thousand colours and even more shapes.. and wonderful creatures with unearthly shapes free floating above the landscape, or hiding under a rock – or even lying, concealed, in the sand.

Reef Scene

So diving, somehow, takes you out of yourself and into another world. And maybe all of us need that – some experience that takes us out of what’s normal, and forces us to think in new ways – to take a different perspective. The peace under water is astonishing – cut off from sound apart from the sound of your own breathing, the occasional sound of an engine, or the nibbling of parrotfish on the coral. Even surrounded by other divers, the solitude is incredible, lost in your own magical universe.

Turtle Silhouette

And maybe, like it did for me, as you stay open to things changing, your perspective will shift – so that the new world grips you.. that moment when the alien and threatening environment of strange creatures, the inability to breathe without assistance, the sense of being out of your safety zone suddenly shifts and you feel at home in the new world… and for me, the sensation of soaring, of flying over the surface produced a new exhilaration, an excitement of realising a childhood dream. Truly, I was flying – only the medium had changed, and I could even control how high I flew simply through my breathing..

And it was so important, too, to relax. Nothing is gained underwater by fighting the ocean… so breathing becomes slow and relaxed – the more peaceful the breathing, the longer it is possible to stay under water…and so resistance ceases, and we learn to stay in the flow, to go with what’s happening rather than force circumstances. We see what turns up – maybe there’ll be a turtle, maybe not – maybe we’ll find Nemo, maybe not, maybe a ray will flap lazily across the ocean, or maybe not… maybe there will be a special surprise of something unexpected.. who knows. But there’s nothing to be done to change it – what happens will happen, and for us, the thing to do is simply to enjoy the experience – to allow ‘what is’ to be absolutely perfect, to stop resisting and just glide along on the current of the experience. Sure, we have to keep an eye on what’s going on… but most of the time, if we just let what’s happening happening.. then the magic will be there…

Anthias

So, learn to go with the flow of what’s happening around you. Like the aikido masters who can use the energy of their attacker to create the energy to defeat them, we can use the power of the flow of what’s happening to enjoy the experience, to see the hand of creation in it – and to hear the voice of God, the core of the Universe, the heartbeat of Love speaking. And as we become more open to possibilities – then more possibilities are going to present themselves…

So the ocean seemed to be whispering to me… “learn to stay open…. learn to listen to your heart… and to your feelings….let things flow…and you, too, can hear the voice of God”.

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