Growing Through the Cracks

Growing Through the Cracks

Growing Through the Cracks

We grow through the cracks.
 
The ground opens beneath us.
 
In beauty we rise.
 
Have you noticed Louis how nature finds a way? Flowers rise through concrete, trees grow from ruins, and a family of foxes have taken nest under my shed. When the human footprint fades, nature returns.
 
We are called in this time to return to our own nature, to allow our own natural beauty to rise through the cracks opening in the ground.
 
For glimpses of your basic nature, spend time with a child. Watch their tender open hearts, see their profound wonder for the smallest of things, step into a time beyond time with them.
 
Most of all notice how their innocence, their vulnerability, their unguarded imperfections break our hearts open. As Leonard Cohen says, ‘there is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in.’
 
We have spent too long chasing perfection. We lost our way. We forget that our beauty grows through the cracks, not by papering over them.
 
So please take some time this week to fall in love with one of your most exquisite imperfections. See the original innocence shining through this crack in your being.  And extend this light to another whose innocence you have forgotten. See if you can fall in love with one exquisite imperfection of someone close to you. Enjoy the dance. Watch the beauty grow.
 
Because nature always finds a way.
 
All My Love
 
Louis
Cutting Through The Noise

Cutting Through The Noise

Cutting Through The Noise

The world is getting noisier,
and noisier,
and noisier.
 
Too much information,
Used to mean,
Something else.
 
Your attention…
its your most precious resource.
So how will you cut through the noise in 2020?
 
I found an anchor.
She holds my attention still,
In these turbulent waters.
 
An anchor shaped like a question-mark,
Keeps me grounded in my heart.
 
So when the world tugs on me,
Like a puppet-master with a billion strings,
I will keep asking this question,
My anchor:
 
What would Love have me do now?

 

Treat Your Body As Your Beloved

Treat Your Body As Your Beloved

Treat Your Body As Your Beloved

Recently, I have been really going deeper into the practice of relating to my somatic experience as it arises. Somatic experience is simply what you feel in your body without describing it in words. Everyone is capable of doing this. We were born doing this. If you want to try now, just scan your body and notice the primary sensations in your body without labelling them. You may notice your mind wanting to categorise and analyse, and that is fine, but know that you have the capacity to relate to your experience in this primal, innocent way. If you want a technical word for this practice, you could call it ‘interoception’.
This practice is so simple, but please don’t be misled by its simplicity. It is also the most profound healing practice, when properly understood and correctly applied. It is commonly used in the treatment of trauma. See these books here and here as good examples.
As I have delved deeper into this practice, I have been really appreciating the miracle that is the human body. Just to consider the fact that we evolved from a single-celled organism – and that are bodies are essentially these intricate, walking memory boxes, holding such deep intelligence from our evolutionary past.
Just think about goosebumps. Goosebumps! I am a big fan of goosebumps! When I sense goosebumps and a sort of warm exhilaration of my skin that signals them, I can be pretty sure that there is some incredibly rich information coming from the outside world. This is especially true when I am interacting with someone, for example in therapy or coaching. When I notice my skin tingling, it is almost always a sign that we (client and myself) are on the edge of a big transformation, an epiphany, a moment of deep healing and vulmerability.
So my current practice – which I want to share with you – connects this somatic experiencing with the Sufi idea of the human relationship with the divine as being comparable to that between a Lover and his/her Beloved. When a sensation or feeling comes up in your body, see if you can relate to this somatic wisdom as though it were a really, deeply caring, unconditionally loving figure giving you vital information – like a precious gift. This practice is to be used for both ‘pleasant’ and ‘unpleasant’ feelings.
If you feel some anxious feelings in your body for example, bring your attention to the primary somatic experience, beyond labels. And once you have established this level of connection, take a moment to honour and appreciate and listen to the Beloved – let the Beloved speak to you in this way, through these sensations that are arising in your body.
I hope this practice helps you find peace and empowerment as much as it has me and the people I support.
I leave you with this from Sufi poet Rumi:
Because the Beloved wants to know,
unseen things become manifest.
Hiding is the hidden purpose of creation.
(Rumi)

 

The Simple-Not-So-Simple Challenge Of Kindness

The Simple-Not-So-Simple Challenge Of Kindness

The Simple-Not-So-Simple Challenge Of Kindness

Kindness – easy to say, not so easy to do.
 
What makes kindness a challenge are what I call ‘kindness blockers’ – those things that get in the way of our innate kindness
 
Things that get in the way of kindness are primarily those things that trigger our sympathetic nervous system – our fight, flight, freeze self-preservation instinct. 
 
Our threat system is ‘highly conditionable’, which means that it can be trained to be activated by certain threats, and that these learned reactions can get passed down over generations. The emergent science of epigenetics has shown, for example, that memory of trauma can be passed down across at least 3 generations. In one now classic experiment, mice were exposed to the smell of cherry blossom and each time were given an electric shock. The researchers discovered that the baby mice, having never had an electric shock, recoiled instantly at the smell of cherry blossom. Rachel Yehuda and her team have demonstrated this same intergenerational transmission of learned responses in humans.
 
This means that you and I, and the double helix at the centre of our being, we are a walking memory box. Life is a clever old thing. Passing on these memories means that the next generations are biologically and psychologically primed for the experiences of their ancestors. 
 
The downside is of course that we carry on living with our body-minds stuck in a past that largely does not represent the present or the future we want to collectively manifest.
 
To make this concrete, let’s say that your great great uncle died tragically by drowning. For as long as you can remember, whenever you go near any body of water including a bath or shower you freak out, have a panic attack. This encoded memory clearly gets in the way of your functioning, and of course your capacity for compassion. (This story is based on a client I recently treated).
 
So, you see, the simple goal – to be kind – is actually not-so-simple (are you happy now Mr Greedy Brain?). To get to this state of being, we need to be in a healing environment, a space/place where we can recondition ourselves. 
 
We need to get to know our triggers really, really well.
 
And we need to think critically about the world we live in, about the built-in tendencies of our current environment to repeatedly, almost obsessively trigger our self-preservation system. A very simple example here: 99% of people I know say that the first thing they do when they wake up is turn on their phones. Now, unless the first thing you do in the morning is use your meditation app, the likelihood is you are instantly triggering your self-preservation systems in this one simple gesture.
 
I personally find that the flood of information available at my fingertips undoubtedly triggers my self-preservation system. I get this panicky feeling that I will never have enough time to read all the books on my kindle, listen to all the podcasts, respond to all the messages across 5 or 6 different channels. I’ve talked elsewhere about how we are all becoming ‘fragmented humans’, our minds split in a million different directions.
 
This is why I feel this year more than ever that I (and probably you) will benefit from having one – just one – simple not-so-simple goal.
 
So if you, like me, think that being kind to your self and to other people is one of the most important simple not-so-simple goals there is, then here is what I recommend.
 
  1. Make a list of your triggers. What are the top 10 things, people, situations that really push your buttons? (i.e. make you angry, sad, anxious etc). These are your primary wounds.
  2. Heal those wounds in the moment when they arise: for simple wounds, the best way to heal them is to cultivate embodied awareness – or ‘interoception’. This simply means that in the moment of the trigger, or shortly after, you bring your attention to the raw sensation in your body. I encourage my clients to place a hand on that part of the body, as touch is deeply healing. Allow that energy to be there. Your job is to provide a safe passage to these previously unmet, uncared-for energies; you are cultivating a kindness towards your self. The more kind, generous space you allow to that energy, the greater the chance it will resolve itself. Now, clearly some wounds can be more complicated, and may need the support of a professional or a healer of some sort. 
  3. Make kindess your top priority. Now you are starting to re-condition your self-preservation system, you will find you can allow yourself to open up in an authentic kindness both to your self and others. Each day, think of one person you know who is struggling or suffering, and do one kind thing for that person, even if it’s just to send them a loving message.
 
That’s as simple as I can make this simple not-so-simple challenge for now.
 
Creating the conditions for kind attention in your life –  this is the most revolutionary act you can do.