I’ve come to realise this human experience is about love.
Not just the ideas of love that permeate our society but a much bigger notion that is personal, interpersonal and transpersonal. There is a possibility of individual and collective transformation that is based on insight and connectedness. We can reclaim that understanding and apply it to our experience of ourselves whether in mind, body or spirit.
Beyond and through it all is a direct experience of ourselves as deeply connected to all things that is our birthright and our natural state. The benefit of these insights and understandings can, and needs to, flow on to our loved ones, families, communities, organisations and into the wider world.
For me, a process of self-inquiry has been and is the way. I spent 20 years in the corporate world feeling an increasingly strong inner split between what I was doing and a deeper knowing that there was and is more to my way of being in the world as well as this reality and human experience.
Ultimately, I made some big choices about what was nourishing and supportive at the deepest levels of my being and followed my heart wisdom. That led me to wonderful teachers, therapists, experiences and beings that have been truly supportive of a process of continuous unfolding. It asks me to look at my tendencies, my gifts, my shadow and to keep growing and to put good things into the world. As the modern philosopher Ken Wilber puts it, this is ‘growing up, cleaning up, waking up and showing up’.
During a period of intense inner and outer change and a process of coming to deeper understanding, I started writing. The result was my book, ‘Light Up the World – Inspiration for a New Humanity’. It is about love and transformation – personal and collective. My heart and soul are in it. I’ve had some wonderfully touching and deeply human conversations about what it evokes, inspires and points to.
Along the way, I’ve found the work of Stan Grof greatly helpful in relation to non-ordinary states and experiences and their healing potential. Peter Levine and Bessel Van der Kolk’s work have helped me appreciate that our body truly does ‘keep the score’ and is a store of experience and wisdom that is far beyond our rational and conscious mind. There is a deep intelligence in our breath, our body and our being.
Some of these insights led me to breathwork. I’ve come to love and facilitate breathwork because it allows me to provide a safe and compassionate space for others to access and trust the deeper wisdom of their being. I draw on conscious coaching and compassionate inquiry principles to help support people on their own journey of reclaiming the most resourceful and fullest expression of themselves – body, mind and soul. I love helping people meet and move through their experience with heartful qualities. Breathwork can also open aspects of the human experience and psyche that are truly transformational. Helping to facilitate the experience and integration of those conscious and unconscious elements is a gift.
Yoga provides a physical and energetic framework through which we can use our bodies and practice as a means of self-inquiry. As well as the many physical benefits, it reveals much about our mind and how we are in the world. Importantly, it also allows us to cultivate the qualities of heart and being that allow us to meet all of our experience. It also supports the embodiment of understanding.
Yoga and meditation led me to Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Master and the father figure of modern mindfulness practice. His life and work truly touched me as they have for many and have stayed as I’ve learned to take care of all the parts of me. I completed personal retreats at his Plum Village monastery including one on Compassionate Leadership. I’ve also explored indigenous wisdom, shamanic practice and energy medicine.
The natural world has been my greatest teacher. It has shown me so much just through connecting and taking time to listen, to recognise its patterns and wisdom and what it is giving and teaching us all. By immersing ourselves and spending quiet time in nature I have accessed more subtle realms and a deeper sense of connection to what John P. Milton refers to as ‘outer nature, inner nature and true nature’.
I’ve come to understand that these traditions all point in the same direction. To the experience and understanding of love and interbeing. There are practices to support us at different levels of our being. We can find and cultivate a calm, engaged and caring way of being towards ourselves and others that is both heartful and connected. What flows is transformational.
As I look at what is happening around the world, it is clear that there is a great process of transformation underway in which systems and ways of being that are built on wrong understandings, domination and the exploitation of people and nature are being shown to no longer meet our needs. Many people, communities and natural systems are ignored, stressed and in decline. Deeper human and environmental needs are being left unmet and personal and collective trauma remains unresolved.
We can and should reclaim and rebuild ways of being and operating in the world that are generative and caring. This is what our wise elders and indigenous wisdom traditions have always known and practiced. We need the application of those understandings on a grand scale urgently for our individual and collective wellbeing.
For me there is a recognition that this now becomes about loving service and how I can pass the benefit of what I’ve learned and experienced to help others. It feels like increasingly important and meaningful work to share this set of tools and understandings. Being with and supporting others towards the truest expression of themselves is an honour and a wonder.
Our earth honouring traditions all recognise loving kindness, compassion, joy (especially in the wellbeing of others) and equanimity (or inclusiveness as Thich Nhat Hanh so beautifully offers it) as the great qualities of being. They are also deeply rooted in nature and the support we receive moment to moment from the earth and all its beings.
There is nothing that cannot be transformed by these qualities.