Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Thought for the Day

Because this is more of my 'professional' blog, I am more thoughtful about what I blog about and try to ensure that it's directly relevant to personal development, spirituality or whatever.

I've had a couple of ideas kicking about, but haven't got around to writing anything just about yet.

As you may (or may not) be aware, I hang out a lot on my social media. As a medium for keeping in touch with people, it totally rocks. It allows for connections with people I have 'known' for a long time, even if I've never met them.

One thing is for certain: Times are hard all over. Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances.

Unfortunately, my magic wand is all waved out. I can't make it better for everyone. I can't give anyone else a happily-ever-after and the Gods know, I would love to be able to.

What I can do is remind you that Times is Tough. Please be gentle with yourself and be gentle with the people around you. And when things happen out of your direct control, be the best friend you can to yourself, let kindness start with you. And if you can...

Monday, 18 June 2012

Who Would you be Without your Story - Byron Katie

"An unquestioned mind is the world of suffering." Byron Katie

Last Saturday, I went down to London with my friend and NLP Mentor Stephen Woolston. I hadn't realised it, but he is a big fan of Byron Katie, and when he saw I was interested, he suggested we travel together. It meant there were two 5 o'clocks in my day, something I'm not altogether very keen on, but needs must. It was either that or pay an exorbitant amount for a hotel in Central London.

While we were queuing to get in three people approached us and parted us to go straight through. It was Byron Katie herself! She paused and greeted another attendee and off she went. She was not even quite my height, but when she was on goodness, she seemed six feet tall. She really does exude the aura of calmness and determination that you sense in the YouTube clips and in her books.

We met up with some of Stephen's NLP friends, they were all trainers and very experienced in their fields, and frankly, they were just brilliant fun. Open minded, great sense of humour and they welcomed me into their midst without a second thought. By some lateral thinking we managed to bag some brilliant front row seats on the balcony, so for once I was not trying to peer over the back of some tall person's head. We were given copies of the Judge-Your-Neighbour worksheet in some very nice folders. 

Byron Katie came up on stage, talked a bit about herself and how The Work came to be and then we were all invited to fill out a work-sheet. The rest of the day was spent with Byron Katie inviting people to come up on stage and do the Work. There is nothing complicated or mystical about Katie's approach, though, I would make the argument that there are very, very strong parallels between The Work and Buddhism. The cause of suffering is attachment. She says that thoughts are like rain, they fall unbidden; our problems start with believing our thoughts. We see The World through our filters, therefore we create our realities and act as though they are true. If we take a step back and using inquiry, we see that it is our thoughts and reactions to situations and people that cause our pain and suffering. By doing The Work, we free ourselves from these attachments.

I cherish the abundance of her concept of Love. It is truly generous. The Work is all about Love, it is knowing that we are Love and her job is to awaken our minds and hearts to the reality of this. She did The Work with quite a few people, through inquiry they questioned their thinking and actions and came to see there was another way of living. She was relentless. It was amazing to see. The people she invited to come up on stage were suffering, by the time they hugged and thanked her and returned to their seats, they were lifted. They stood straighter, held themselves more firmly, the tenseness left their shoulders. And it was great to see how open they were with the other attendees afterwards.

The thing that amazes me is how simple and effective The Work is. And how similar to NLP. The Work has absolutely nothing to do with the content of a person's suffering. It addresses how suffering is manifested, challenges the thinking behind it and invites an end to it. The Work places responsibility squarely in the head of the person suffering; everything is a learning opportunity and it is through our relationships we have with other people that we learn about ourselves. She also teaches that we should thank the people who have taught us. 

I have found The Work incredibly powerful and moving. It has certainly enriched my thinking considerably. I am very tempted to do the facilitators' training. It would certainly add to what I can offer my clients. However, at the moment, I am content to sit with my learning and take things slowly. What I would say, is if you have the opportunity, the means and the inclination, visit her website, do The Work and if you can, see her live. It will be worth it.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Begin with Yes - Paul Boynton

"Contrary to what we've been taught, the secret to a good life is not about having a positive attitude; it's about taking positive actions." Paul Boynton

I 'met' Paul Boynton and Begin with Yes, through the awesome La Diva; she had been interviewed by Paul for Empower Radio. I listened to their half an hour chat with great interest. Firstly, because I got to hear La Diva's voice (and she sounded exactly as I'd imagined - full of energy and enthusiasm) and then, I was hearing Paul in action. It was a couple of months before I set up my Facebook page for the Lighthouse Network, but I remembered him and 'liked' his page. I genuinely adore his picture quotations: great messages with gorgeous pictures. Very positive, supportive and inspiring: all of the attributes for the Lighthouse Network!

I thought it would be good to share Paul's book with you. I bought it on my Kindle through Amazon and I'm really glad I have it. It is laid out as a conversation, rather than a traditional book with chapters, in a question and answer format. He also uses real-world examples of how his clients and other people he's known have used the Begin with Yes strategy. I really like this approach. It addresses and challenges peoples' queries about the system, without preaching.

It's breathtaking in it's simplicity. In a nutshell, he is saying positive attitude is fine and great, but actually, it's not enough. It's not enough to be positive, you've got to act positively. By acting positively, you'll get the Life you want. By acting positively, he means: identify what it is you want to achieve, make a plan on how you're going to achieve it and make a small step towards it every day. 

Boynton's approach is compassionate and generous. He does recommend being positive, but acknowledges that there are times and circumstances where it's very difficult to maintain that 'can do' attitude. He says it's important to acknowledge the difficult times, being blindly positive is an inauthentic response which is ultimately unhelpful. However, using Begin with Yes in challenging circumstances, becomes more important than ever. It means your dreams don't get derailed with the rest of your Life. You're responding to the difficulties in front of you, whilst keeping your ultimate goal firmly in the forefront of your mind.

I like his no-nonsense, straight-talking delivery. He makes no promises that Life will be perfect, everything will turn out as expected, you'll live happily ever after. What he says is you're far more likely to succeed using the Begin with Yes strategy, than if you start each endeavour with a negative attitude.

Begin with Yes is a short book, it's well-written, accessible and it's very clear what it's all about.  Personally, I've written out the strategy and stuck it to my board, to keep me focussed. It doesn't make unrealistic promises neither does it patronise in the way that some self-help books do. Paul Boynton comes across as the kind of guy you'd want to meet up in the pub and as the Yanks say 'shoot the breeze'. He doesn't have the ego that many within the self-help circuit cultivate.

I realise this is not so much a review as a recommendation. Ah well. Be that as it may, it's worth a read. If I were you, I'd also 'like' Begin with Yes, Facebook Page. I mis-remember a quote that goes motivation is like bathing, you've got to do it every day - it's great having his reminders in your newsfeed. 

Anyway darlings. Enjoy! Have you already read his book? Are you a fan? Let me know what you think!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Small Fears

Listen to what you know instead of what you fear.
 Richard Bach

Sometimes I ask myself "what's the point of NLP? Has it really made a difference to my life? Or has it just been an expensive self-indulgence?'

I think it's a good thing to question and to listen to the answer. After all, what might have started out as a good idea, half way through, it might be the worst of all things. And there's no point wasting time about it, if it's not working, it's time to do something different. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcomes (a misquote from Einstein).

NLP's approach to phobias is perhaps one of the most effective and life-changing. I've seen a woman too terrified of snakes to even look at a picture of one in a magazine, within 20 minutes of being on stage with Richard Bandler stroking a patient boa constrictor. My Boy, whom I love dearly had the most awesome girlie scream when confronted with spiders. I've got pictures of him after his NLP training, holding a tarantula called Rosie, looking very pleased with himself.

But what have I experienced?

Well, I'm not a fan of heights or tight spaces. I tried camping once. It wasn't a success thanks to the slope we were pitched on, the chilly August and the fact that I couldn't sleep in the tent with it zipped up. I didn't freak out, or fall apart. I just made it very clear that the tent had to stay unzipped. Never mind the cold and damp.

I've not been keen on heights. Again, I don't freak out, or fall apart, but I let my general unhappiness be known. I have been to the top of Cardiff Castle, not an entirely happy experience.

So, when I was invited to go on a tour of Ely Cathedral, I was curious. I was asked if I would be worried about heights and tight places, because there would be both. There are about 170 steps in very tight conditions to take you to the top of the Cathedral which is about 120 ft. I said I was up for it. And I was.

Going up, it wasn't the very tight space which was the issue. Put it this way, if there is ever a space to elicit a freak-out response, heading up to look at the Octagon is it. It starts out reasonable, but on the third leg of the ascent, the staircase becomes a very, very small space with people above and behind you. No, the issue for me was my level of fitness i.e. the heaving chest and the burning calves. My Goddess do I ever need to sort out an exercise regime. 170 bloody tiny steps to walk up and down again!

Once up there, I looked out towards Cambridge and across the fens. I enjoyed looking down on a nesting dove and at the people walking around the Cathedral grounds. I was laughing and joking. In other words, I was fine.

I was comfortable and happy (a bit chilly, because obviously it's March weather in the beginning of June) and I had a lovely time.

Here's the thing: I had to consciously notice this difference in my response. Big deal? It's more like a little deal. It was something that I used to do, and now I don't do it any more. A bit like my smoking. So the answer is still a resounding yes, NLP is good for me and I still believe it's a great thing for other people too.