Is our world in danger of collapsing?

tower-collapsingHow do we make sense of the recent US election result? What does it mean for the world order? I have been watching the views on the recent American election with interest. We have seen the full cycle of grief play out – denial, anger, sadness and eventually acceptance. It’s not surprising it was a great shock to many. If I am honest after Brexit and considering the year we are in, I wasn’t surprised by the outcome. And yet I respect that many are still in shock, reeling and trying to make sense of it. What helped me initially were these words by Thoreau: “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” The rest of this article shares some of the thoughts that came to me when I sat quietly and reflected on it all.

Those of us that are Colour Teachers know that 2016 is the year of the Tower. What does this mean I hear you ask? As human beings, we tend to like order and many attempt to keep the the world structured and steady; in a Tower year, all will tumble around you anyway. If you think about it that is what we have seen on a grand scale with both Brexit and a Trump victory.

If we use a building analogy, it’s as if just as you mortar the last brick in place, lightening strikes and the whole structure collapses. Here’s the irony, those fortresses or golden cages that have been created needed to come down so that we can truly build the new paradigm and this is the year we have the strength and fortitude to deal with it. Remember nothing lasts forever, regardless of how permanent it might appear. And that’s okay because if you take a good hard look, the walls of the fortress that you put up to protect yourself probably became more of a prison than a shelter. A Tower year reminds us to let change happen when it needs to, and gives us the nudge we need to go through with it. Of course it can be painful as we go through it and the trick is to hold onto one grain of truth that we can use to start rebuilding our reality once we have come through the other side.

So let’s consider what is happening on the world stage for a moment. There have been many marginalised voices that have not been heard for a number of years. They have made their presence known here. In the UK they rose up and said that they had had enough of the inequality which they perceived was being doled out by the EU institutions and those people voted for a new kind of relationship with the European Union. Similarly in the US many have revolted against the established order and the perceived cronyism and corruption that they see within the political elite. Take heed of the date of the presidential elections 9/11 no less – just recall for a moment how our world changed irreversibly 15 years ago. This date is significant as from a numerological perspective 9 refers to the end of a cycle and yes I realise in the US it would read 11/9.

When we have taken the time to reflect who knows what will emerge. However I firmly believe that order comes out of chaos. This could be the impetus that we need to bring about the change we so need to see in the world. I want to share the following article with you because it is the first thing I have read that actually makes sense of what’s happening. So I encourage you to have a read and see what you think for yourself – https://goo.gl/tpgHvJ

This is a chance for us to come together and explore what we have been ignoring for the longest time and start to embrace the underbelly of our collective shadow so that ego doesn’t win. So who’s ready to take some time to be introspective and heal up some of their own wounds for the sake of the collective consciousness so we can truly radiate love rather than fear?

John O’Donohue expresses some of the sentiment that I believe is necessary going forward if we are to heal our world. His poem is called Coming home to yourself:

May all that is unforgiven in you
Be released.
May your fears yield
their deepest tranquilities.
May all that is unlived in you
Blossom into a future
Graced with love.

Honey I shrunk the kids

mindfulness leafAs humans, we exist to be in relationship with one another and yet here’s the rub. Every day I hear about good friends falling out. On a granular level if you are parent, how often do you find yourself shouting at your kids and regretting it? One of my friends was telling me recently that her daughter keeps quoting the NSPCC’s Childline number to her and threatening to call them! Shows great initiative and it made me smile and yet why are our relationships with our children not optimal? In this article, I explore what lies behind miscommunication in families and offer a way through that is based on research. Whilst this is about parenting, you can see the same things happening in business which is why companies employ consultants like us to come in work with their people and turn them into high performing teams. People laugh at all the behaviours that they see on the Apprentice and of course they are exaggerated to increase the entertainment value for the Public; AND these kinds of things go on all the time.

Change can happen instantly and in other areas, it is very slow. A great example of this comes from a study of the seasons. Currently in the UK we are experiencing a very mild autumn; the first signs of winter are only just beginning to come. It is November and yet the sun is shining and many trees still have their beautiful russet gold leaves. Every morning I appreciate that even though the car windscreen is misty, it is not yet frozen solid with ice. That means we can leave about 5 minutes later and still get to school on time.

Two factors that cause miscommunication

  • Busyitis

How often are you in a hurry? If you have children how busy is their schedule each week? One client told me recently about her week and I really did not know how she got through it. She works full-time and then helps out with at least two of the organisations where children do after school clubs. On one day she has about 15 minutes to fit dinner in.  This is madness.  One thing we do is have a busy morning before school so that we can adopt a more relaxed pace after school when the girls are more tired.

Of course it is good to expose your children to a range of different activities. You want them to find out what they love doing; to excel at something or at least enjoy an activity, as it is a great way to build their confidence. AND yet everybody needs those “scratch your bottom” moments. Otherwise you will get exhausted with the constant round of ferrying, as will your kids and then there will be conflict. You are not a machine, you are a human being. If you are always rushing around it is hard to be present and in the now.

  • Guilt

As a parent how often do you feel guilty about how you have treated your children? After shouting at them, you feel a range of conflicting emotions, your energy levels are at an all time low and there’s that voice in your head that starts telling you off.  That internal voice may even sound like your Mum.  You feel waves of shame at how you behaved. This kind of emotion is so debilitating: it can be crippling.  When you feel like that, what do you do? Do you withdraw because you feel so uncomfortable or do you go on the warpath to distract yourself from how you really feel?

It is through sharing emotions that we build connections with others. Good communication is only possible when we are aware of our own emotions. That only happens when you give yourself time to self-reflect and build that awareness.

So often with clients, I find that they try to rationalise their feelings. If you break down that word, rationalise, you get its real meaning: rational lies. It is so important to get out of your head and tune into how your body feels about whatever’s happening. As Bob Samples (1976) quoting Einstein wrote:

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

As a parent the more can communicate the rich inner world of your feelings to your children, the stronger the attachment you will have with them and the better they will be at developing close, intimate relationships during their lifetime. This sounds easy and yet many find intimacy challenging and scary at first.

I encourage you to read Philip Wade’s beautiful post about Intimacy as he explains why years of conditioning are what makes intimacy so challenging. His definition of intimacy is so powerful in to me see. The eyes are windows onto the soul. So the first exercise I am going to encourage you to do is to look deeply into the eyes of another. See how long you can hold their gaze and notice everything you experience.  How difficult was that?

Every time you resonate with your child’s emotions, your child experiences herself as “good.” Siegel and Hartzell describe emotion as “the process of integration that brings self-organisation to the mind….integration may be at the heart of a sense of well-being, within ourselves and in our relationships with our children and others.”

In can be really hard to relate emotionally to your children because it requires mindful mindfulness photoawareness of your own internal state as well as being open to understanding and respecting your child’s state of mind. That requires a huge amount of awareness. You become more aware of your own internal state when you pause and reflect on it; just acknowledge what’s going on and journal about it too.  Below are seven steps to better communication with your children:

  1. Pay attention to your emotional field: notice your feelings, your physiology and other nonverbal signals
  2. Alignment: allow your own state of mind to align with that of another
  3. Empathy: be open to another’s point of view and experience by remembering that everyone is right but only partially
  4. Verbalising: allow your inner world expression outwardly in a respectful way
  5. Participation: Join in the give and take of communication so there is balance of sharing and listening
  6. Curiosity: we all use words in different ways so be sure to check what the other person means by asking questions
  7. Diversity: Remember there is joy in the uniqueness of each individual’s form of expression – infinite diversity in infinite combinations

Remember children only model what they see. To be a conscious parent you need to practise great self-care. There are a couple of places on my forthcoming mindfulness retreat weekend, 21 and 22 November, where we will be really getting into this space of conscious communication.  Afterwards you will feel more at ease with intimacy and you will be able to build greater intimacy with others including yourself.  You can find more details here and get in touch to book your place.

Conflict is inevitable; combat is optional

inner-glow-1056365What has become clear to me as I get more into relationship and systems work is that conflict is an inevitable part of life and the aim is not to avoid all forms of confrontation rather it is something much more challenging initially. The key is to recognise what is going on and develop the skills to manage it. I have known this for some time and was rather dismayed that when I reached out to an online group of spiritual people to discuss it, the collective response was almost to deny this truth. That is just burying your head in the sand and ignoring the messiness of life. As spiritual beings having a human experience, our souls want to experience the full range of emotions even those hugely painful ones. We are not our feelings and with greater understanding, we can step back and observe it all rather than getting wrapped up in the drama or denying the reality of it. Let me go on to share with you some recent insights I received which I think help put all this into perspective so that you no longer fear conflict but rather embrace it and move through it, acknowledging all that you have learnt from it.

It starts with understanding stress

How often do you hear people saying that they are stressed out? The implication is that that is the cause of their behaviour but here’s the first fact stress is a symptom not the cause.

Stress comes about when there is inner conflict. Here’s what I love and I am thankful to Sandy Newbigging for explaining this so clearly for me. Conflict is made up of two forces resistance and attachment. Let me go deeper by sharing some of my stuff. When I get frustrated with my daughter for losing things there are two things going on. There is resistance to accepting that as a creative she has a tendency to be scatty AND attachment to the need for order due to a belief that being organised saves time and leads to greater efficiency. In other words the stress I can feel in those situations is not caused by what has happened but by internal disharmony between my resistance to what I don’t want to acknowledge AND an attachment to something I think I need. Sandy puts it as

Stress is a symptom of there being a conflict between what your mind wants and what your soul knows you need; for you to fulfil your life purpose.

 In essence as long as you remain in conflict with life by forcing it to meet your expectations then you will stay stressed. So how do you make the shift?

The first step is to really embrace and start living from the Taoist philosophy of who knows what is good and what is bad. There are many versions of the parable but this is my favourite. It is set in Ancient China when owning a horse was considered a sign of wealth:

One day a wild horse jumped a poor farmer’s fence and began grazing on his land. According to local law, this meant that the horse now rightfully belonged to him and his family. The son could hardly contain his joy, but the father put his hand on his son’s shoulder and said, “Who knows what’s good or bad?” The next day the horse made its escape back to the mountains and the boy was heartbroken. “Who knows what’s good or bad?” his father said again.  On the third day the horse returned with a dozen wild horses following.  “We’re rich!” the son cried, to which the father again replied, “Who knows what’s good or bad?” On the fourth day the boy climbed on one of the wild horses and was thrown, breaking his leg. His father ran to get the doctor; soon both of them were attending to the boy, who was upset and in a great deal of pain. The old farmer looked deeply into his son’s eyes, and said, “My son, who knows what is good or bad?” And on the fifth day the province went to war.  Army recruiters came through the town and took all the eligible young men to fight the war.  The farmer’s son was not taken because he had a broken leg.

This comes to my final point which is that the more you can suspend judgement and develop 360 degree thinking the greater versatility you will have to deal with the vicissitudes of life. Interestingly in some research published by the Harvard Business Review recently 360 degree thinking was in the top five attributes considered to be vital for leaders today. That’s hardly surprising as the old command-control structures give way to ones built on self-organising principles which are about empowering employees to see themselves as leaders.

If this seems like too big a stretch for you right now then let me offer you the first step. It comes true-happiness-innerpeace-1-1441466by breaking with your routine, even taking a breath and trying a different approach. This becomes much easier when you build in daily meditation time. In the last 12 years there have been over 10,000 studies done that show the benefits of mindfulness. I know how busy you are and that finding an hour a week for eight weeks can be a challenge. So I have designed a weekend course, which will enable you to get all the tools that you need to bring about a step change in your life. And what people have said about my programme is that it is highly practical and introduces techniques that you can build into a hectic schedule. I know what its like as I have two small children and two businesses to run and I couldn’t do it without this as my foundation.

Find out more details about the weekend, including client testimonials here. Being towards the end of November, it makes a great early Christmas present to yourself and you will feel rejuvenated by the end of the weekend.

Are you ready to take off the mask & stand in your power?

bot63Many say that we teach the things that we need to learn for ourselves.   Over the last month or so I have been taking a deep dive inwards because for me, it is only through doing the inner work that we can hope to gain what we want on the outside. It has been rather a rollercoaster of a journey often quite raw at times but I guess that’s the nature of transformation. I go inwards using colour therapy and just lately I have been on the golden journey, examining what blocks me being in my full power and exploring the different faces of fear.  Discover more of what I learnt.

The cycle of life is really a spiral. This is a wonderful thought because it means if we don’t fully integrate a principle or understand an idea, it doesn’t matter because we will meet it later on. So we don’t have to rush at things, get intense about what is happening. We take what we need at that time knowing the time for deeper learning will present itself. How freeing is that?

Embodiment, the concept of giving tangible or visible form to an idea, quality or feeling has been part of my journey. Thanks to Beth Follini, I discovered Wendy Palmer’s work many years ago. I got so far with the training but didn’t complete it because I wasn’t ready at that time. Now I feel it calling me again so if it is meant to be I will take it up again.

When I was doing embodiment work with Wendy Palmer what struck me most was a particular exercise about success. So often people crave for success. At a certain level they believe that more money or greater recognition is what will make them happy AND then as became apparent through the exercise, often we are not ready for success.

I mention that here because it is definitely a theme that I have been seeing with clients of late. They have come to me because they want to move from good to great. They want their business to really take off. We start doing the work and then they can become paralysed by fear.

I know what this is like as I experienced it when I was redesigning my website. I got so far with the project and felt unable to continue. It was only thanks to the loving support of Anya Pearse  that I made it through.  And here are some tools which  may help.

According to a rabbi called Alan Lew there are two types of fear based on the Hebrew translation of the old testament.

  • Pachadis “projected or imagined fear,” the “fear whose objects are imagined.” That, in contemporary terms, is what we might think of as over-reactive, irrational, reptilian brain fear: the fear of horrible rejection that will destroy us or the fear that we will simply explode if we step out of our comfort zones.
  • There is a second Hebrew word for fear,yirah. Rabbi Lew describes yirah as “the fear that overcomes us when we suddenly find ourselves in possession of considerably more energy than we are used to, inhabiting a larger space than we are used to inhabiting. It is also the feeling we feel when we are on sacred ground.

If you are someone who has felt a calling in your heart, you have uncovered an authentic dream for your life, and felt a mysterious sense of inner inspiration around a project or idea then this will probably speak to you.

Interestingly people often conflate or confuse the two types of fear, and simply refer to both of these types of experience as “fear.” But we can discern them more closely, and in doing so more effectively manage fear so it doesn’t get in our way.

Next time you feel fear:

1.Ask yourself: what part of this fear is pachad? Write down the imagined outcomes you fear, the reptilian brain fears.  Then check in with your wise self by asking how real these are?  Wait for the answer.

  1. Savour yirah. Next ask yourself: what part of this fear is yirah?You’ll know yirah because it has a tinge of exhilaration and awe -while pachad has a sense of threat and panic. Lean into – and look for – the callings and leaps that bring yirah.

If you find that difficult then you may wish to delve into the Work by Byron Katie . She recognizes that we are not our thoughts. Just following the start of the process can give you more clarity. Ask yourself these four questions:

  1. Is this true? Wait for a yes or no from deep within
  2. Can I absolutely know this is true?
  3. How do I react when I believe this thought?
  4. Who am I without this thought?

To go deeper and get a real sense of how to use Byron Katie’s process then do read this excellent blog by Corrina Gordon-Brown .

So when I had that feeling of fear. I realised that in part it was very much linked to being more visible. I felt that I would be under more scrutiny from people that others might start judging me and find out that I am only human and don’t always get it right. At some level that felt terrifying for a while until I realised that actually my clients like the fact that I am real that I am not glitzy and highly polished. It means that I am natural and that makes me more accessible.

So as long as we are not pretending to be something we are not then all will be well. The first step is to come out from behind the mask. The second is to ask for help if you need it. No one can get through life on their own. We are designed to connect with others.

Yes it takes courage to step up but as soon as you do. You are saying to the Universe that you are ready and the good things will start to flow. What I have learnt is that life is about being “perfectly imperfect.” A thought is just a thought.

If you struggle with that then do join me on my next weekend retreat based on these and other mindfulness techniques to help you stand in your power in an authentic way.  You can find more info and book here.

Why is increased visibility challenging?

visibilityIn this post Kate Griffiths explores some of the reasons why women business owners shy away from increased visibility and the big time.  It is a reflective piece that chimes with the season in that winter is about giving yourself space to breathe and take stock. 

Yesterday morning I had an inspiring time with Kate Codrington and a bunch of other women where we reflected on 2014 – in particular the moments we were proud of and what we would like to see more of in 2015.  It was an enriching time and it led me to ponder on a question which I want to share with you here as it was a theme that emerged from the group.  How do you cope with increased visibility when you have other demands on your time?

Many women have families and responsibilities at home.  We are not just talking about cooking and cleaning although these duties tend to be rolled into all of that.  Often it is the mother who holds the fabric of the family together.  She is there when her young children finish school to hear about their day and support them through the tough times in the best way she knows; to mediate when there are squabbles over the favourite mug, plate or bowl; bring in laughter and healing and extra love through cuddles when that is needed.  There is an expectation that she will keep on providing this constancy and love as and when required whatever is happening for her.  After all that is considered to be part of the job description.

No one has endless reserves of unconditional love, it is vital that each of us takes time to refill the tank.  That comes from having dedicated “me” time and yet if you are busy at work and home, how do you fit that in?  For many mothers, their entrepreneurial journey is into doing work that they love and there is an assumption in there that if you are passionate about what you do then you will find the reserves you need to be there for your clients.

This is a myth.  Dedicated “me” time means doing stuff for you; for your own growth.  Often this is then translated into time for personal development and whilst that is noble and can really support an individual’s growth and reap dividends in terms of what you can then offer your clients, I question how much it fills you up personally.  What struck me yesterday was that as people’s businesses have grown and I include myself in this to some extent; the focus has gone on to personal growth that supports the development of services for clients rather than on themselves.  This can lead to the resources that you have being stretched even further perhaps to breaking point.  Really that is about doing rather than being.

One of the best things that I have done this year is to take on a part-time housekeeper.  You could argue that it is a luxury but it means that I no longer spend any of my time cleaning, it is just about keeping the house tidy.  I can honestly say this is a great investment for me.  It means that I am much happier doing the ironing now and actually found myself ironing a duvet cover earlier this week which is a first!  It also gives me a bit more slack in my day to create with the extra demand for my services.  It also means that I can play with my girls on the days they don’t have after school activities.

All that said, there is more to life than work and what I realised as I listened to myself and the other women yesterday was that for many of us, we are juggling so many balls in the air that there is very little time for fun and quality time with those that we care about.  This is one of the biggest challenges as your business grows and especially if your partner has a demanding job too.  It made me realise that going forward, I want to take some practical steps which are to have a regular date night with my husband including the booking in of the odd weekend away with the support of family to make this happen.  It is much easier to relax when not at home faced with a mountain of chores that need to be done.

There is also a bigger theme here too and that is the theme of visibility.  Why is it that so many businesses do not reach their potential?  It is important to know your values as a business owner and make time for what matters.  That may mean getting clear about your boundaries and saying no to work that is not aligned to your values, something I did recently.  It is very empowering.  It could also mean being clear about your working hours and if demand increases, consider building a waiting list for clients.  Saying no to a client takes confidence and firm belief in your own worth and it can be very satisfying to have defined boundaries as well as being helpful for potential clients.

Beyond that for many there is a fear of success.  When you are more visible then you become more accountable.  Often people expect more of you.  There will probably be increased demands for engagement so you need to become much clearer about what is in scope and what’s out of scope.

All of this gets easier if you can tune into your inner wisdom to discover what your soul desires. That is at the heart of this particular conundrum and is one of the reasons that I started Sacred Space for the Soul, an online FB group with offline meet ups.  If you are involved in work that is making a difference to the world and could do with more sacred time, do consider joining us.

Alternatively you may wish to consider working with me one to one, as transforming people from the inside out is the focus of my work.  It is vital that you come to realise that you are already perfect and are in just the right place for you right now.  It is also why when we had the awards ceremony at Kate Codrington’s place yesterday where we determined what Kate’s certificate was for, I decided that mine was for being real.  For me the key to wholeness is sharing my reality so that you can see it is good to reveal your own humanity.

Kate Griffiths works  with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives.  Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining  what the new ways of doing business look like.  She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation.  If you cannot remember the last time you stopped and took time to relax then do check out Kate’s two day mindfulness course  at the end of November.

 

 

 

 

What is the secret ingredient in business success?

2014-09-06 16.27.53In this article Kate Griffiths talks about what it takes to be at the top of your game in business and why it is so easy to get out of kilter.

You know that grey feeling that you get when you have overdone it….where you feel you have little energy to deal with anything?  It’s funny how children seem to sense when you are in that place and start playing up.  If you stay there too long then you are heading for burnout because no one can sustain that relentless pace.  It is important to stop and build in some me time.  If you don’t you are likely to end up under performing at work and if you maintain the pressure so much of life becomes joyless.

I can describe this so well because I have experienced it.  It is a common dilemma for solopreneurs.  You are your business.  There are always things that need your attention.  I generally keep weekends as my time to relax and recharge with my growing family.  However the other week I ended up spending the whole weekend working.  I needed to get copy done for my new joint venture.  With various calls and writing that took up one day; and then on the Sunday I was running my first colour party.  It was all exciting stuff and yet it took its toll.

It was rather a surprise in a way as it rarely happens these days because I am usually very disciplined about scheduling regular “me” time.  I make sure that I get plenty of time alone because then when I am facilitating to large groups I can find limitless amounts of energy and enthusiasm.  This is usually quite easy for me to do because I am clear that what I value above all else is inner peace.  Mike George describes it as

Authentic peace is a state of being, which shapes a state of mind, which generates positive and focused thinking, which are expressed as proactive attitudes and behaviours.

Peace leads to the end of emotional upset and when you find emotional freedom you will cease to be distracted by the outside world.  Then it is easier to access your intuition and using your third eye you can start to see the truth in any situation.  Peace leads to personal and collective harmony.  One of the ways that I get there is through the use of the following affirmation I am peace.  It sounds simple and yet many people are waging war in their heads thanks to the power of their negative self talk.

There are different ways you can step into peace.  Just being  mindful of what images/ television you watch can help.  Using a photo like the one in this article may help you step into peace…..remember peace is only ever a thought away and what you focus on grows.  Mike George goes even further and argues that your life has no value unless you can find peace within yourself.  Put it another way, peace is the foundation of a happy fulfilled life.

If you want to take active steps towards cultivating a greater sense of inner peace then book into my mindfulness weekend course at the end of November in Hitchin.  I would love to share with you the tools that I have learnt to get more of this in my life.

Kate Griffiths works  with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives.  Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining  what the new ways of doing business look like.  She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation.  If you would like to learn how to use mindfulness for yourself then do check out Kate’s two day mindfulness course  at the end of November.

What are you really saying?

head based communicationDon’t waste a good crisis.  You can apply that to situations that backfire on you in that they are great opportunities to learn.  This week I want to share how conscious communication is only possible when you get out of your head.

The other day a quite innocent exchange of views became very intense very quickly and by the end I felt violated quite simply because I no longer felt respected or heard by the other person.  I had a strong reaction probably because I am highly sensitive soul.  Yet even at the time I recognised that this was a great gift, an opportunity to explore how the whole exchange could have been more fruitful for both of us.  Coupled with the fact that I am doing a lot of work around how to manage conflict in the work place, it just felt that a post on the tenets of good communication was timely.

Words are so powerful.  The phrase sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me is stuff and nonsense.  You can feel violated by another just by their manner towards you as much as what they say.  So let me share with you some tips on how to manage challenging conversations.

When the going gets tough, turn to wonder

If you start feeling irritated and annoyed or sense yourself going onto the defensive, get curious.  Ask yourself what is triggering you?  Not always easy or the first thought in a conversation and yet it can provide a mine of information.  The likelihood is that a need of yours is not being met. 

If you discover what that need is then you are in a much more powerful place and can find a way to share that information with the person you are talking to.  The likelihood is that they have no idea about what’s going on for you.

 

Self-respect and respect for others is vital

Be honest.  How often do you berate yourself when something goes wrong?  Do you start attacking yourself and calling yourself stupid.  I expect you do because the way that you were educated to think would have encouraged that.  Actually it is very hard to learn when you are giving yourself a hard time and in extreme cases it can lead to depression.  As a minimum when the “inner bitch” gets going you have lost your sense of self-respect.

At times it can be very hard to maintain respect for the other person.  This happens when you stop listening to understand their point of view and have decided that what they are saying is nonsense.  In these moments there is no more curiosity and the danger is that ego can take over and you can think that you are superior and that you are right.

Whatever the truth of the situation, the other person will sense that you have switched to a more adversarial position and there is a strong possibility that they will withdraw from the conversation rather than keep plugging away.  Alternatively they may go into an accommodating style and just agree with you in order to end the disharmony or they may move to a competing style and become as vociferous in staking their position, which just leads to a Mexican standoff.

Taking yourself too seriously

If you find yourself in a tense conversation and can maintain a lightness about yourself and even bring in humour that can help to defuse the situation.  Just remember there is very little that is of a life and death nature.  If you take yourself too seriously then it is likely you will find yourself needing to be right.  When you get into that frame of mind then it follows that in order to do that you will need to prove that the other person is wrong.

If you find yourself heading in that direction ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. Is what I am going to say truthful?
  2. Is it necessary?
  3. Is it kind?

Only proceed with what you were going to say if you can answer yes to all three of those questions.  Otherwise try and let it go.  If you are already feeling emotional, taking a few seconds to centre yourself using something like the breathing pause will help.  If you are calm the other person will sense that and it will help them to match what you are showing them.

Silence is sometimes the best answer ~ Dalai Lama

Silent is actually an anagram of listen.  We have one mouth and two ears and if you use your mouth in that ratio then you will gain so much more from those around you.  It will give you the space to listen for the needs of the other person and then you can voice what you think they are.

You may not be right but that then gives them a chance to articulate their needs.  I believe this is so much more powerful than what many tend to do which is to ask “what do you need?”  Quite often that puts the other person on the spot and they don’t always know what they need. Giving them something to work with is a great way of discovering their actual needs.

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love ~ Lao Tzu

I want to end my thoughts with this.  It echoes what I stated about when deciding whether to share something or not.  When you are kind in thoughts, words and deeds you experience a richness in life.  Perhaps not immediately but it will always come back to you.  It is why the Dalai Lama has always emphasised the importance of kindness.

When someone continues to share with you what you are doing well then you start to believe that you are good at what you are doing and are more likely to perform at a level of excellence then when someone is highly critical of you.  More than that it will start to shape your thinking and you will be more likely to pick out the good in others.  In that one moment you have created a virtuous circle.  It does wonders for your sense of well being and it puts well being firmly at the centre of all your communication which is why I am such a fan of non-violent communication as a tool.

I will leave you with this quotation from the Dalai Lama which I believe sums up all that I have said.  If you feel inspired then do leave a comment below as I love hearing from you:

As long as we observe love for others and respect for their rights and dignity in our daily lives, then whether we are learned or unlearned, whether we believe in the Buddha or God, follow some religion or none at all, as long as we have compassion for others and conduct ourselves with restraint out of a sense of responsibility, there is no doubt we will be happy ~ Dalai Lama

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Kate Griffiths works  with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives.  Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining  what the new ways of doing business look like.  She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation.  If you are feeling stressed and want more space or time in your life then check out Kate’s two day retreat at the end of November.

 

It’s all down to you: rebuild your brain one breath at a time

neuroplasticityIn this article Kate Griffiths explains how science has proven that it is really all down to you how you feel.  What this means is that you can change if you want to; it also means you can no longer kick the proverbial cat or blame someone or something else if you are having a shit day.  Did you know that whatever you continually sense and feel and want and think is slowly but surely shaping your neural structure?  Also all mental activity whether that’s sights, sounds, thoughts, feelings, conscious or unconscious patterns are based on underlying neural activity.  Most of your neural activity flows through your brain with no lasting effect but intense and repetitive activity leaves an imprint on the neural structure. Why does this matter you might well ask?  It helps to explain why I can often be found saying that you are a co-creator of your reality.  One of the golden wisdom principles of the PI programme that I run with Kath Roberts is whatever you focus on grows.  In mindfulness terms you could say every day your mind is building your brain.  This is called neuroplasticity, which is a major area of research for neuroscientists today who are examining how the brain can, and does, change. How exciting is that?  It means if you discover a pattern of behaviour in yourself that you don’t like and then develop your meditation muscle using mindfulness techniques, you can increase your grey matter.  This leads to a thicker cortex primarily in the prefrontal areas behind the forehead that control attention; the insula, which you use to connect to yourself and others; and the hippocampus, which can help extend your long term memory and improve your spatial awareness.  It doesn’t stop there.  If you practise relaxation regularly, this is likely to increase the activity of genes that calm down stress reactions, thus making you more resilient. Let’s look at this in another way.  Going back to the idea of the triune brain which I explored in detail in a previous article, let’s look at the core need that each meets.  In the case of the reptilian brain, its driver is safety; the focus of the dog/ mammalian brain is satisfaction and the theme for the primate brain is connection.  We can see this as follows that in the case of our oldest brain, it’s aiming to avoid any form of harm; our middle brain is looking for rewards and our youngest brain wants to attach to others. Why is this important you may ask?  It helps to explain why so many get caught up in surviving rather than thriving.  Our instinct for survival is rooted in ancient biological imperatives.  Furthermore it helps to think of these three operating systems that we have as running us.  They can operate in one of two ways which I will explore with you now. There is the responsive mode which in coaching language we refer to as setting an intention for the day.  You can decide when you wake up how your day is going to be – let me show you how.  You can start by thinking about all the things you are looking forward to in your day.  Then even if you get cut up in the traffic on the way to work, you can see it as someone being in more of a rush than you rather than getting annoyed by their driving.  Imagine you asked to pick up your child from school early because they are not well, you could see this as an opportunity to spend quality time with her even though it means leaving work early and before you have finished what you set out to do.  Your partner comes home stressed to the eye balls and is not particularly pleasant but you see the behaviour for what it is and respond by getting them their favourite drink and sending them some healing energy. Alternatively exactly the same events could occur and you could approach the whole situation completely differently.  You could wake up and think about the day full of dread about what is coming up.  This sense of gloom intensifies and sparks into anger when you get cut up in the traffic and you glower at the driver, raising your fist at them as you shoot past later in the outside lane.  When the phone rings to say that you will have to pick up your daughter from school early, you curse silently to yourself and are really grumpy when you pick her up, stressing about when you are going to get your unfinished work done.  This then weighs heavily on your mind so when your partner starts sounding off, you turn on him giving them both barrels as you have just about had enough after a very difficult day. As you can see exactly the same things happened in both days, the one difference was the setting your brain was on.  It has a responsive and a reactive setting.  Thinking about it in another way, as long as you believe that your core needs are being met, then the system defaults to its responsive setting because you are feeling safe and that generates a sense of relaxation, calm and peace.  Likewise when you feel satisfied that gives rise to feelings of appreciation, contentment and a sense of accomplishment.  Finally when you feel connected, your brain evokes feelings of compassion, kindness, worth and love.  In this place you can meet challenges without feeling stressed because it is as if you have a protective layer between you and the challenge.  You can avoid feelings of fear.  Rick Hanson talks about the green brain – a state where your neural networks are no longer in a state of deficit so your sense of lack, pressure and emotions like irritability and frustration evaporate.  Suffering really does become a thing of past in the responsive mode.  Not only do you treat others with more compassion because you feel respected, it’s contagious which means you attract other fabulous folk into your space and find you have more influence. You can still experience misunderstandings with others and challenges in this resting state but you face them with a foundation of empathy and goodwill.  How amazing is that?  Each time you take in the good, you are hardwiring happiness into the neural networks.  Remember next time you feel out of sorts and look to blame someone else or your health, remember how you feel is all down to you.  And if you want to develop your ability to respond whatever situation you face then get in touch.  I would love to give you tools that will help you transform your life into one where you can be all that you can be more of the time.  And if you feel inspired to comment then do leave a message below.

How can inner peace and content become yours?

Coltsfoot CourtyardSo why is my focus on health, well being and personal development?  Why do I encourage people to invest in themselves?  It is not to make money although I love the fact that I can live a spiritual life and be in flow.  It is because I want to bust the myth that money is the key to feeling content.  Financial success does not lead to inner peace.  Money is a by –product something we created not that long ago and now so many are a slave to it: too afraid to follow their dreams because if they fail they think they will have no value.  I would like to share some of my story to give you hope that another way is possible.

Just over 10 years ago, I had a terrible shock, my husband whom I saw as my rock was called up to serve in Iraq to help rebuild society post the war.  In fact it was a much more dangerous time in that country because of the level of unrest and the chaos that the war had created.  The worst time was our anniversary.  He had promised to call and I sat by the phone and no call came through.  You can probably imagine the thoughts that I had.  It was at least 24 hours before I heard from him and I was very grateful that I was with my parents-in-law at that time.  It turned out that the communication lines went dark because a soldier had been killed on active duty and the military’s first priority was to contact his family.

Contentment and inner peace do not come from being in relationship with another

I spent most of 2004 on my own and it was the year I discovered reiki, a form of energy healing, and perhaps more importantly I learnt to let go of dependency on another for my happiness.  Tough though the year was on so many levels, it was a blessing because I learnt a lot.  I also realised that working in a corporate environment did not suit me.  Although I had a three year break during the birth of my children, it was another eight years before I left for good to set up my company.

The transition from employment to self-employment was a big leap.  I know because it took me two attempts to get into my stride and find a way of being with it that worked.  Initially I used to panic because I never knew how much I would earn and the amounts varied enormously.  At that point being an entrepreneur was too stressful so I quit and went back to a corporate role for almost two years before I said to myself enough is enough.  What’s the difference this time?  A number of things have changed.  I have never stopped working on myself and developing myself so I can be of greater service to my clients.  This has had a number of knock on effects elsewhere too.

It’s the little things in your life that give you the most joy

I have become a more conscious parent.  I make sure I spend time with my two girls every day and I always apologise if I have reacted to their behaviour rather than responded to it.  Learning to step back and not get triggered when they hurt each other or scream and shout takes huge amounts of self-control and I don’t always manage it.  At those points I remind myself that each day gives me a fresh start to build a loving relationship with both daughters.

I can be this transparent because I am not afraid of what others will think of me, that’s their business, not mine.  I am only responsible for myself.  Arianna Huffington who modelled this in her talk at the Wisdom 2.0 conference this year has also inspired me.  She had it all in the world’s eyes – status, money, recognition – and she collapsed from exhaustion.  It took a severe wake up call for her to realise there was more to life.

I don’t want you or anyone to go to the edge in order to realise this.  It is no longer necessary.  Mindfulness is not the preserve of the new age, CEOs of a number of companies have openly stated that they use it every day to help them make more compassionate decisions.  It is also a great way to develop panoramic (360) vision.

Inner peace and contentment are a thought away

Inner peace and contentment will not come when you buy that car you have been lusting after or when you finally get on the property ladder or get a promotion?  You can create it right now whatever you are going through.  If you are in denial, you will blame your state of mind on your poor health or your financial circumstances.  Here’s the tough message: being a victim and feeling sorry for yourself, will only prolong the crap in your life.  In a manner of speaking you are asking God, the Universe, Source (take whatever works for you) to keep on serving that up for you.

Be honest with yourself and ask yourself what you really love, what you are really passionate about?  Listen to that voice inside yearning to connect with you and then take some baby steps towards fulfilling that dream.  A first step could be becoming conscious about the words

you are using; it could include spending a few moments each to appreciate all the good things in your life.  If you do that, there will be a shift and the magic will start to happen.  When you are having fun, it all starts to flow –believe me I know.  Initially it will take

coltsfootconcerted effort but overtime it will become an unconscious way of being.  If all that seems impossible or too hard then consider coming on the two day PI programme that I run with Kath Roberts.  Contact us for further info.  Coltsfoot is a magical place and in the peace of that space we will show you how to co-create your reality.

Mindfulness: what’s all the fuss about?

mindfulness comedyHot on the heels of the launch of the all party parliamentary group on Mindfulness, Kate Griffiths has written an article showing why it it is only a matter of time before mindfulness is taught in schools.  Using Carl Rogers’ maxim of what is most personal is universal, the article that follows is a true story.

This week I want to share a very personal story because it is a great illustration of how mindfulness works, why it is growing in popularity and why I incorporate it into my own programmes.  It will also show you the power of the work that I do and give you ideas on how you can apply mindfulness as a tool in your own life.

Let’s face it you have probably had plenty of OMG moments and one thing that is guaranteed is that you will have many more.  Wouldn’t it be great to have tools in your back pocket that gave you greater resilience so that the next time you got bitten on the bum you would be able to bounce back far more quickly?

A little while ago, I found myself in a position where I needed to be away from my two young children for five days and nights.  That was a long time for me as quite a hands on parent and it felt like ages to my six year old who, in Aron’s words, is a highly sensitive child.  The only good thing was that I had one afternoon with them in the middle of this where I got to put them to bed then work for an evening before heading off again.

I first realised there was a problem when I picked up the girls from school.  The little one seemed to be holding her shoulders at a funny angle.  We went home and played and I even spent quite a while doing some healing on her as she relaxed lying down on top of me.  I mentioned it to their lovely nanny, who fortunately is also a reiki master and could use her healing hands too.

Everything started to unravel a bit the following morning over breakfast in the hotel.  I was talking to some of my colleagues who started discussing the pre-course videos they had watched.  I had not received any. I felt my first sense of concern which increased when I discovered there was some pre-course work to do that I had not received either.  As soon as I got into the training room, I mentioned it and was given the exercise to complete during registration.  Then my phone rang, it was my eldest daughter.  I was slightly concerned as she told me that Daddy, who was also away, had not rung and they had rung all the grandparents.  What was up I thought?  Taking a breath, I listened and it seemed that they just wanted to check in with folk and the other calls explained why I had not been able to get through earlier.

Time was ticking and I still had not completed the exercise I needed for the first session and the guy who had lent me his laptop to watch the accompanying video needed it back.  Then the main man, the client really, decided at that moment to start a conversation with me.  He was fascinating but another ten minutes disappeared.  I went back to creating a piece of art, never my strong point, and one of my new colleagues popped by and said that A4 was not large enough that everyone else had done theirs on a piece of flipchart.  Another breath and I started again trying to find pens that I could use on a flip that were not just black, blue and red.  And then we were off into the whirl of the day.

I thought that that was it in terms of nasty surprises that day; little did I know what was going to happen later. Later than usual I called home to check on my family.  My youngest answered and remembering that they had planned to spend the afternoon in the park, I asked her if she had a good time there.  She burst into floods of tears and said they had not even gone to the park and that she was in so much pain she would never walk again.  For a split second I felt the tug on my heartstrings and then realised I could help her feel better straight away.  Fortunately I do breathing exercises with her regularly so I was able to start doing them with her over the phone.  Using those types of mindfulness exercises I was able to get her to relax and within 20 minutes she was virtually asleep.  Later in the week I took her to see a cranial osteopath who said she had experienced a mechanical twist that normally she would have shaken off but because she missed us so much, the power of her emotions had kept the twist trapped in her energy field, and the pain increased.

This is the kind of thing that can happen when you don’t listen to your body.  Mindfulness techniques help you get out of your head and feel what’s happening in your body.  Ultimately it puts you more in touch with who you are and helps strengthen your intuitive capabilities too. If you feel you could benefit from this kind of work then come and join us for the next mindfulness day on 22 May.  Contact us here to book your place.

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Kate Griffiths works  with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives.  Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining  what the new ways of doing business look like.  She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation.  Last chance to book on the next mindfulness day on 22 May.  Contact us here to book your place.