Apr 22

If we have no peace . . .

. . . 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.

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.

Apr 22

On the road–warning… deep thoughts

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….

Apr 22

In search of the spirit of Uluru

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.

Apr 22

Under the sea

 

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”.

Feb 28

The road less travelled

While I was in Ao Nang, Thailand, I took a day trip out by longtail boat to see Khao Ping Gan, a beautiful island in the Khao Ping Gan (11)bay, made famous in the James Bond movie ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ as Scaramanga’s secret den. We had about 30 minutes to see the island, and so, like a well behaved tourist, I was rushing round trying to see as much as I could, and to capture the movie locations.

I found myself simply following the crowd – wandering from one spot on the beach to another – climbing a little path that led to a new vantage point and a different scene. And something inside me rebelled.

There are times when it feels right to follow the crowd – to do what everyone else is doing, to be part of the ‘gang’, to share in a common experience. It’s like that at Bangkok’s Kao San road. All the backpackers and tourists go there to eat, to catch the street entertainment.. to buy things they don’t need from street vendors, and to watch the world go by. The food is pretty safe, the menus are in English, and it all feels very comfortable. You know where you’re going, you know what to expect.

And yet there’s more fun to be had off the beaten track. There’s a whole crazy city out there. Eating food from a street vendor who speaks no English, ordering by waving and pointing, prices communicated by holding up fingers or pointing out which note you need. Wandering round the little shops that seem to sell just about everything, piled high on dusty shelves. Stumbling on a local wedding, or a group of monks at prayer.

Kepler Trail (7)I’ve always been one of those rebels. I’m the one who has gone off down a different track when out walking – who’s missing, exploring something different. I want to push the boundaries, to see things no-one else has seen, to go places no-one else has gone. Sure, it’s a little bit scarier. But it’s a lot more unpredictable, a lot more fun. And it yields the better stories.

So everyone takes that taxi from the airport. So no-one travels Thailand by train. Sounds like really good reasons for doing it then…

1267_03_06_2005_8_10_59_1217My hero of deep and meaningful rock music, Larry Norman, once wrote ‘I took the road less travelled by, and that’s made the difference every night and every day’ – and he’s right. That’s where the difference is found. For Larry, the ‘road less travelled’ was his walk as a leader of the Jesus Movement in the 60s and early 70s. For me it’s been refusing to conform to someone else’s beliefs, someone else’s rules for how I should live my life.

 

A very precious friend of mine, who stood by me and encouraged me when my marriage was falling apart, once sent me the following quote:

Kepler Trail (38)“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds”. (Edward Abbey, US radical environmentalist (1927 – 1989))

 

 

 

 

..and although it’s years since I’ve seen Clare, that message has always been burned deep into my heart. I’ve sought to take the road that’s less well travelled. And that’s made me who I am. That’s fuelled my sense of adventure. Have I followed the right road all the time. I’m certain i haven’t. There have been detours, diversions, roadblocks, U-turns – I’ve been ambushed and gridlocked, I’ve spun off the road or blown a gasket. And yet it’s all been worth it – every single moment of it – for the view I have, for the sights I’ve seen, for the people I’ve me, for the adventures I’ve had. It’s been worth it for the places I have visited, for the fun I have had – and for the person I have become.

Luang Prabang (20)So what will you choose? Will you choose the safe path, the path that everyone else follows? A safe career, a life full of security and safety… or will you choose the path that beckons to you, the path that calls to your heart, the path that hints at adventure, at risk, a path that promises huge rewards?

Only you know – but I hope that the view beckons to you – that the adventure calls out to you… and you choose to be the person only you can be, and make the difference only you can make.

Feb 25

If we have no peace, 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.

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.

Feb 02

Under the sea

 

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”.

Jan 07

In search of the spirit of Uluru

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.

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 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 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.

Jul 30

Conversations with God

Can I be honest with you today?  Will you indulge me a little?  You’ve been good enough to come on this journey with me so far, and I wanted to tell you a little of some of the reasons why I’m doing what I’m doing.  Because maybe I’ve not given you the whole story so far….and in particular you may be asking the question… “Why Oregon?”

Well, this adventure plays to so many of my personal values: I took a look recently at what’s important to me and came up with this list:

  • Love & Compassion
  • Adventure
  • Freedom
  • Joy & Fun
  • Learning and Growth
  • Spirituality
  • Health & Vitality
  • Achievement & Success
  • Peace
  • Wealth and Prosperity
  • Courage
  • Truth and Integrity

So maybe some of those are obvious – how this supports my love of adventure, freedom, joy & fun, achievement, learning, growth, courage… but what about the rest?

For those of you who know me well, it makes so much sense that I would want to go off and do this – and yet there is something deeper going on.  You see, for me this is a real voyage of self discovery – an opportunity to really understand who I am, and why I am here.  The last couple of weeks have been very significant in preparing the ground for that, and I’ve shared a couple of those stories with you.

There are four big questions that we all need to answer.

  • Who am I?
  • Where am I?
  • Why am I where I am?
  • What am I going to do about where I am?

I’m beginning to see answers to those questions… and I promise I will share them at some point.  But I think that most of you know that I am deeply, deeply motivated by something else – call it love, call it compassion, call it God, call it what you will – but enough of you have been kind enough to notice that there is something ‘different’ about me.

So one of the reasons for me being over in the US was to do the Huna workshop.  The other was to attend a retreat with Neale Donald Walsch.  I’ve attended his retreats in the UK a couple of times – and I know that some of you reading this are friends I’ve made on those retreats (you know who you are!)

I have a feeling, though, that this event will be very significant in my life, and will be another part in the major shift around who I am, and what my reason for being here is.  And I mean here on this planet, by the way – here living this life.

Neale is the author of the Conversations With God books – probably the books that have made the most sense to me about life, about God, about the world we live in.  You could do a lot worse than read ‘Conversations with God’ or ‘Happier than God’.  Borrow it out of the library.  Go into Waterstones and read it there.  Or not, it’s entirely up to you.  For many people, including some very influential world leaders, it has been very important.  It may well resonate with you too.

I have not seen many people deal with a room of people with such compassion and such insight – with such understanding of what’s going on for them.

Yet today I have been particularly moved – firstly by em claire’s reading of her poem ‘Shine’ which I have published before

Shine

God says for me to tell You This:

nothing needs fixing;

everything desires

a

Celebration.

You were made to bend

so that you could find

all of the many miracles at your feet.

You were made to stretch

so that you would discover,

your own beautiful face of Heaven

just above

all that you think you must shoulder.

When I appeal to God to speak to me,

I’m feeling just as small and alone as you might feel.

But this is when, for no particular reason at all,

I begin to

shine

For various reasons, that poem meant more to me today than ever before – as I said to em on the way out – “I came here to hear you read that poem.  I can go home now”.

But the reason we are all here is simply to become the next grandest version of the greatest vision of who we are.  We are, each of us, an individuation of Divinity, an expression of God – an opportunity for God’s nature to be expressed on earth.  And the time that we will feel that the most clearly is when we are giving to others.  So life is not about how much money we make, or how influential we are, or even how much fun we have – although all those things are important – life is about how much we give.

And so I find myself challenged – how much can I give to others while I am travelling… and how much can I bring back to allow me to be even more compassionate, even more caring, even more inspiring.

I have much to think about in order to answer the question “Why Am I Here?”

Jul 16

Goddess of Fire

As I walked across the lava on Mauna Kea mountain, climbing the cindercone from one of the mountain’s previous eruptions, I became aware of a different presence on the mountain… the presence of an ancient Goddess, Pele, the Goddess of fire and of volcanoes, the Goddess that had created the mountain… and I found myself understanding that in many ways we have become cold, lacking passion, fire, drive… I prayed for my God to fill me full of that fire, full of that passion – that I might bring love, and warmth, and joy to the world. I felt myself reborn, renewed.. on fire.

And as I watched the sun set over the mountain at Mauna Kea, I knew that God is doing a new thing in this world.. Restoring passion, fire, energy, warmth, to this world. I sensed that there is a new movement coming – taking us beyond the gentle love of the New Age movement, and back to the fiery passion of revival. The sun is setting on the old: God’s pace is picking up and something new is being called into being.