We don’t know what we’re doing – and that’s ok.

We don’t know what we’re doing – and that’s ok.

We don’t know what we’re doing – and that’s ok.

This is a picture of me, in the early days of my love affair with football. ‘The beautiful game’. It could also be so cruel. I remember standing next to my dad at Maine Road football stadium in Manchester, as thousands of men sang to the referee over and over again: ‘you don’t know what you’re doingyou don’t know what you’re doing‘. I have no idea how I experienced this at the time, but I think part of me thought it was the funniest thing in the world, and another part of me felt the excruciating shame of that referee.

The song stuck with me, to the extent that towards the end of my meditation this morning the song reverberated again around my mind: ‘you don’t know what you’re doing.’ This time it wasn’t about a referee. It was about me.

Imagine, for a moment, a baying crowd of thousands of drunk and aggressive men surrounding you, jabbing their fingers and screaming ‘you don’t know what you’re doing.’ You don’t need to have been a referee to know this feeling. We have all had experiences growing up where we were mocked, judged, laughed at, bullied. And as we grow into our adulthood, we have all had experiences where we really struggle with something – work, relationships, parenting, life. When we do find ourselves struggling, these early shame memories can coalesce in our minds like a gang of disembodied bullies lying in our unconscious waiting to pounce.

I often have the feeling that I don’t know what I’m doing – as a father, as a therapist, as a charity CEO. And when this feeling comes up, I often notice a contraction in my chest – a bodily prism refracting all those moments I have been judged, criticised, or bullied for not knowing what I’m doing.

But this morning in my meditation, I transformed this chant into a full-hearted celebration. I owned it. I imagine standing in front of a crowd of thousands of drunken, angry people jabbing their fingers, and there I was dancing a little jig and singing out loud with absolute joy and freedom: I DONT KNOW WHAT I’M DOING! I DONT KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!

It is really ok to not know what you are doing. The practice of owning this is called humility. And humility is a lost art we need to rediscover. The part of us that feels it needs to know and control every aspect of our selves and our lives really gets us into trouble. The part that feels it needs to know and control, this is our inner controller. Beneath it is a scared child that once got bullied, shamed, or judged for not knowing what it was doing. Give that child some love, and join me in celebrating all the areas on our lives and in this world where we really do not know what we are doing.

This super duper powerful meditation will help you to gently let go of that anxious part of you that feels it needs to know and control everything. Some of my more recent subscribers may have received this meditation already, but this version I am sharing is a new one with healing sounds created by my friend Giovanni Bonelli aka Notte Infinita. Please check it out!

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    Peeping Through The Stained Glass: a story about optimism versus realism

    Peeping Through The Stained Glass: a story about optimism versus realism

    Peeping Through The Stained Glass: a story about optimism versus realism

    So last night in Manchester I was headed to my Five Rhythms class and was really looking forward to it. (For those who don’t know, Five Rhythms is a dance movement practice designed by a brilliant therapist called Gabrielle Roth in the 1970s.) But, I had to stop off on the way to get someone to look at my computer. The computer guy was taking ages. I was running very late. By the time computer man was done, I knew I would almost certainly miss the class, but I thought ‘fuck it, let’s take a risk’ (I’m pretty wild like that). I arrived outside the Methodist Church in Whalley Range 20 minutes late, the door was locked, the class had already started, and as I peeped through a stained glass window I could see a room full of people gyrating. “Oh well” I thought to myself. “I’ve missed it this week. Never mind.”

    So I walked back to my car and bumped into a red-headed woman walking towards the church with a fold-up bike and a huge smile. She told me she was looking for the Five Rhythms class and that this was her first time. I said: “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid we have missed the class for this week.”

    She smiled at me and said: “I’m a relentless optimist. I’m sure we can find a way to get in.”

    And so, she proceeded to walk around the whole church building, looking through every stained glass window to see if she could catch the eye of one of these gyrating bodies. After 10 minutes of peeping through stained glass windows, she managed to catch the attention of one of the organisers who very kindly let us in. We spent the next two hours dancing, gyrating, shaking, moving our bodies to work through fears, anxieties, insecurities, grief and trauma and, at points, reaching states of pure ecstacy.

    There is a lesson in this story I want to explore with you: it’s about optimism versus realism.

    You see, I have in the past described myself as relentlessly optimistic. I have believed in the (almost) infinite potential of human beings. And I’ve been a subscriber to the school of ‘anything-is-possible-if-you-put-your-mind-to-it’.

    ​​But over the years, as I experienced a number of losses and heartbreaks, my optimism lost its sheen. I’d probably describe myself these days as more of a ‘realist’. The type of realism I’ve been subscribing to more recently is best summed up by this quote from the I-Ching — which I currently have written on a pad next to my desk:

    It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are,

    without any self-deception or illusion, that a light will develop out of events,

    by which the path to success may be recognized.

    Turning to face things exactly as they are — that’s the mature response right? That’s the necessary counterpoint to all this spiritual bypassing and saccharine, Pop Idol, positive thinking, manifest-your-destiny type of stuff.

    But let’s just think about this together for a moment. What does it really mean, to face things exactly as they are, without any self-deception or illusion?

    When I turned up to the locked door of the Five Rhythms class, I thought I was facing things exactly as they were, without any self-deception or illusion. I’d accepted that there was no chance I was getting into the class now the door was locked.

    ​​Why did I accept this?

    ​​Because in another Five Rhythms class in London, I had arrived similarly late and wasn’t let in. My mind recorded this experience as ‘reality’, made a rule about it: if X then Y.

    But this red-headed woman with her big smile (she is called Madeline by the way) was bringing to the church a different version of reality. She had never been to a Five Rhythms class. She was arriving in this experience with what Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi famously called a ‘ Beginner’s Mind’:

    “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

    Unlike me, she had never experienced being late to a Five Rhythms class and not getting in. And she self-described as relentlessly optimistic.

    So, who was being more ‘realistic’ here? Me or Madeline?

    The way we view reality is conditioned by our past experiences. Over time, and especially through painful and traumatic experiences, our optimism can contract into a kind of ‘realism’ that we might convince ourselves is more mature, more ‘realistic’. When we have painful experiences like not getting into an event we were really looking forward to, or having our heart broken in a relationship, or losing someone we love, our minds create rules designed to protect us from future suffering. Why would I spend 10 minutes trying to get into a Five Rhythms class, when I know from past experience this is most likely to lead to disappointment? Why would I open my heart in a relationship, when I know from past experience that opening my heart leads to me getting hurt? Recently, I worked with a client who lost her mother when she was young and couldn’t let herself get too close to her nine-year old daughter because she was terrified about dying and leaving her daughter heart-broken.

    We of course need rules to make sense of this complex world, and to protect us from suffering. But sometimes, we need to shake ourselves free from these limits or rules. Sometimes we need a dose of relentless optimism, to believe that anything is possible, because who knows what might happen if we just kept peeking through those stained glass windows. We might find a way to open a door that we were convinced was locked. (NB. A message to the cynical part of your mind: opening up to optimism doesn’t mean denying the reality of things like death. We need to use our discernment to judge in what situations we could benefit from an extra dose of optimism).

    So here is a simple, but powerful exercise for you:

    1. Think of one problem area in your life where you have convinced yourself you are being ‘realistic’. An area where you have settled on a belief about how things ‘really’ are. It might be in your work, your finances, your relationships, your ability to overcome obstacles.
    2. Imagine in this moment you are opening your mind and heart (as much as you feel comfortable), and as you read these words imagine you are receiving a direct turbo-charged infusion of beginner’s mind optimism for that area of your life you have chosen.
    3. With this turbo-charged, beginner’s mind belief that there is a solution out there, that you can unlock the door, decide one action you will take in the next 24 hours.

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    Immunise Yourself from The Capitalist Mind-Virus

    Immunise Yourself from The Capitalist Mind-Virus

    Immunise Yourself from The Capitalist Mind-Virus

    My Dear Friend,

    When the world is telling you you aren’t enough.

    When you have lost touch with a sense of the sacred.

    When your relationships have become means to an end.

    When the logic of utility and efficiency have sidled into even the most private moments (like checking your emails on the loo).

    When you sacrifice friendships, family, love, joy in the belief that if you work just a little bit harder than surely that next post, blog, project, film, business will finally bring you the success and recognition you deserve.

    When you notice that sneaky little snake slithering inside your soul enticing you to do more, to have more, to be more.

    My dear friend, you have contracted the capitalism mind-virus.

    The immunisation protocol is as follows:

    Inject yourself with these words and let the soul cells circulate through your system dissolving any trace of the virus:

    I am enough.

    I am enough.

    I am enough.

    This is enough.

    This is enough.

    This is enough.

    We are enough.

    We are enough.

    We are enough.

    (This immunisation is completely safe. There are no adverse reactions, no side effects, and taking this medicine will probably reduce any polarising debates and conspiracy theories in your environment)

    With Love And Enoughness

    Louis

    Fall In Love With Your True Self

    Fall In Love With Your True Self

    Fall In Love With Your True Self

     The myth of Narcissus is at least 2000 years old.

    Human beings have always had a tendency to fall in love with their own reflection.

    Snoop Dogg said “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the top dogg of them all.”

    I’ve noticed a lot of people recently projecting the term ‘narcissist’ onto other people, obviously people they don’t like.

    But what if we all have this tendency?

    We are all looking to the outside world for a perfect reflection of our own innate beauty. Some people are just more blatant about it than others.

    And we all get troubled when the world around us doesn’t reflect this innate beauty back to us, when we don’t get enough likes, enough laughs, enough love.

    How liberating could it feel, to relieve your self and the world around you of that expectation, that burden of the world needing to reflect back your own beauty.

    What if from today you could begin to see beneath the veil to the innate, eternal beauty you carry in your heart, we all carry in our hearts.

    “Beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
    But you are life and you are the veil.
    Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
    But you are eternity and you are the mirror.”

    Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet