What Katy Louise Did...

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Katy Louise writes about health, wealth, happiness and relationships, and the spiritual insights she gains along her path. She is currently editor of Top Sante magazine (www.topsante.co.uk). Prior to that she was editor of Bodyfit magazine (now Your Fitness www.yourfitnesstoday.com) and the launch editor of Soul&Spirit magazine (www.soulandspiritmagazine.com). Katy is also a certified Fitsteps and STOTT Pilates instructor. She is the go-to girl for all matters relating to health, wellbeing and spirituality.

Sunday 29 August 2010

Three weddings and a funeral

In the past eight months I’ve attended three weddings and one funeral; but it’s weddings I want to talk about right now, seeing as I attended my younger brother’s yesterday. It was a fantastic day, and the bride and groom had put so many of their own personal touches into the day: making their own invitations, with matching place settings, menus, and bunting strung up around the place; not to mention the bride making all the flower decorations, which were a combination of wild flowers grown by my mum and gran, added to some bought ones. They also had an old-fashioned sweet stall at the back of the room, much to the pleasure of children and adults alike, with an assortment of glass jars, collected over the past year, filled with multi-coloured jellies and the like. It was all just beautiful.
I have absolutely no doubt my brother and his new wife will be in it for life, as you can just tell that about some couples; whereas with others, you wonder why they even headed down the aisles in the first place (but you never dare saying anything for fear of causing offence – maybe that’s just a British thing). But I got to thinking about weddings and what they actually mean and represent to people. Weddings are so ingrained into our culture that it’s just the norm to follow suit (If I had a tenner for each time some no doubt well-meaning family member asked me when I was next, I’d have between £50 and £100 now). It’s just expected. And it got me thinking back to the Game of Life board game I mentioned in the previous blog; whoever invented that game in the Eighties, assumed that everyone playing it had to get married and have children. Like passing Go and collecting £200, or whatever it was in Monopoly, in this game you HAD to get hitched – and stick a little pink (or blue) pin in your car next to you. I was wondering what an updated version of that game would look like today; there would have to be multiple life choices: to choose to be gay or straight; to choose to co-habit or get married; to choose to live alone but still have a partner; to choose to live happily single; not to mention the multiple educational choices. In fact, I don’t think anyone would be able to make an updated version because the board would be too big! But the very fact marriage was mandatory in this game, just goes to show how ingrained the wedding ceremony was (and prob still is) to humans.
These days there are so many different paths to tread, and you don’t have to stick to the one everyone else does; though you need to have a bit of a thick skin at times if you do choose to shun ‘convention’, as everyone else will naturally assume you should do as they did, because we like other people to be like us, to make us feel more ‘normal’.

Marriage is a human construction created primarily for the joining of assets – at least that was its original function, until religion hi-jacked it and brought God into it; now it’s not even so much about God anymore as more and more people opt for civil weddings (as was the one yesterday). And don’t get me wrong, I am truly happy for my brother, and it was a wonderful day; I danced until my feet were sore – in fact they still are as I write this! But I got to thinking about ‘tradition’ and how we often do certain things, and in a certain way, because that is what is ‘normal’ or expected. Humans are creatures of habit, I guess.
But things are changing – some people get married while rock climbing, or deep sea diving these days! And some people don’t’ see the point in marriage so don’t do it at all (and there are far fewer legal reasons to do it these days, I think).

Over all I’d say to people they should do what they want to and what they feel comfortable with, just don’t go expecting everyone else to do the same. As Carrie Bradshaw said in Sex and the City, there is no day, other than your birthday, where if you are single your life is celebrated; whereas with people who get married and have kids, there are multiple celebrations (which all cost money) you feel obliged to attend. She asks the question: why can’t you have a celebratory singles day? Someone to come along and say ‘hey, well done on earning money, paying your taxes, being a upstanding citizen, being a kind and compassionate person and member of the human race!’? I guess you could just hold a massive party in celebration of yourself and your achievements, but then everyone would think you were self-indulgent and narcissistic. But if you hold a massive party in celebration of a relationship, to show a commitment to someone else, that is seen as OK.

I know I’m starting to sound cynical now, and I don’t mean to. Maybe there’s a part of me that felt a tad jealous of his relationship and how smooth it all seems to have been for him – I mean, they’ve been together since university, as opposed to my on then off then on again then off again then on again then off again long-term relationship (with some other dates added to the ‘off’ periods just for extra emotional confusion). Plus, other than my single uncle, I was quite possibly the only other single adult there (except for maybe a few at the evening bit); so, surrounded by a sea of family – cousins who all have kids, and if they don’t then they are engaged, or soon to be married – I suppose it made me feel someone the odd one out. But only momentarily.

Now, back home, I think how lucky I am to have such a great family, and also a job I love and which I find fulfilling pretty much every day. And I’m not against weddings – I’m sure one day I’ll get married and most probably have a family of my own… but until then, I just wish people would stop asking me when that day will be!!! (or even thinking it, because I can sense when people are thinking it but not asking out of being polite).

Friday 27 August 2010

You are not who others think you are

A wonderful little book has just arrived on my desk called What it Feels Like to be Me, by Jenny Salaman Manson (O Books), in which a handful of people from all walks of life, and all ages, have written about themselves, and tried to answer the question of what it feels like to be them. The ones I’ve read so far have talked about their childhood, their memories, their family life, their place in the world; all of which come together to create an image of a person – but is that really who they are? It’s a tough question to answer. For inevitably, how other people view you is never the way you really feel about yourself.

I experienced this for myself on the week spent in Italy at The Hill That Breathes last month. Specifically, it was on the last day, when John and Gaia, the proprietors and retreat leaders, had taken us on a special trip to the beach to make up for the fact their pool was undergoing maintenance. After a couple of hours swimming in the gloriously warm and shallow sea, and sunning ourselves, we all gathered into a circle on the sand and John instructed us to take it in turns to say one thing we would leave behind when we left the following day, one thing we were taking with us, and one positive thing about ourselves that we had discovered while there. Then, others in the group had to say positive things about the person who had been speaking.
When it came to my turn, I told the group how I had decided leave behind stress and anxiety about what to do I life; that I would take with me the relaxation methods I had learned (chi gung etc) and the intention to build more quiet time into my life; and that what I learned was that it was OK to be me, and that I was actually doing OK and was fine as I was.
My wonderful roommate Gaynor was the first to speak, and she said that hearing me say that I felt OK with myself was the best thing she had heard all week! This surprised me, but no doubt came from our intimate and in-depth conversations over the previous six days in which I had divulged certain concerns and worries about my life at that time, as I had been going through a difficult patch. Next, one of the guys in the group said I was a very thoughtful person who thinks about others (in reference the day I took two plates of sliced melon down to the pool where most of the others were sunbathing, to which I received many heart-felt thanks and praise – though I hadn’t done it to be liked, just because I thought it would be a nice gesture). To hear someone else – a virtual stranger – say they thought I thought about others almost made me want to cry, as I rarely view myself as altruistic (this is due to the fact that over the past seven or so years I have grown to form an opinion of myself as rather self-centred – largely based on comments from a couple of people close to me, which I felt unable to refute at the time). So, to hear this vas very touching; and having just read the book I mention above, I can think back to my own childhood and I recall that I did have a giving nature; every time I visited my grandparents we would always go shopping and I would want to go into Woolworths to buy some chocolate for my parents (a Toblerone for dad and Bourneville bar for mum); and every time I went on a school trip I’d always bring back silly little trinkets for everyone. Perhaps I was have not been so giving in terms of my time, or emotions, or energy, but I showed my love, and maybe still do, by buying and giving little things.

How other perceive us
Anyway, the next comment I had was from one of the women about my age, who said she thought I was very strong and independent. And there is truth in that. But it always amazes me to hear people say they think that, because it is often not how I feel. I can easily come across as independent and strong, but that doesn’t mean there are not anxieties, weaknesses, fears, and sadness at times. So though this was a positive comment, it made me really think about how other people perceive me, and how this varies so much from how I see myself, and how I feel inside.
I have also been told, probably about four times now, always by men (and not on this holiday, either), that I come across as aloof. This was even written on my school report; I didn’t even know what it meant and had to ask my mum. This too always amazes me as I try to be outgoing, approachable, friendly, even to people I have only just met, so to hear someone say I give off an aloof, stand-offish vibe is not only puzzling but also somewhat upsetting. Because I really don’t get it; inside there is a whole other story going on that somehow is being translated and interpreted in a whole other way on the outside.

And this book – What it Feels Like to Be Me – is beautiful and revealing, because it’s real people, trying to really, truthfully describe who they are and how they really feel, as well as how others probably perceive them. My bet is that no one feels the same inside as the way people perceive them on the outside. Lots of people build up walls of protection, or end up with behaviors and traits that are probably nothing to do with who they really are, but more to do with other people’s expectations of them that they have somehow internalised and come to believe. I don’t know where I am going with this; I have no answer to anything or advice to give, except for maybe to go ask people how they view you, as their answers may surprise you and cause you to stop and think a while.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Is life just a game?

Do you take life too seriously? I know I do sometimes. I really need to incorporate more fun activities – especially dancing as I always love a good salsa! – and start watching more comedy and reading light-hearted books instead of the huge pile of heavy-going spiritual and self-help books with which I become surrounded, not only at work but at home.
If you find yourself also taking life too seriously, then Taoist master Barefoot Doctor has some great words of advice in our magazine this month. He says: “There’s no doubt that unless you do embark on the spiritual journey – the adventure that leads you to oneness with the Great Presence, the Tao or what we might call God in the West – you’re fundamentally wasting your time. But most people assume this has to be a serious business, like going to church and sitting all po-faced, renouncing your desires and generally having a rather stiff and miserable time of it. But according to my approach, that would merely slow it down or prevent it altogether… To fully enter the flow of spiritual awakening, you have to access the playful spirit within you. Start seeing the game of everyday life as an opportunity to exercise and express your innermost childlike glee and curiosity, simply about being alive.”

His point about treating life as a game is an interesting one, for when something is a game, you don’t tend to take it so seriously, or rather, you are less concerned with the outcome. If you lose at Monopoly you might be a bit cheesed off for a while, but it doesn’t really matter, does it? (Although you argue that sometimes it really DOES seem to matter, as is the case with football and any other competitive sport, where thousands of people let themselves get angry and upset when ‘their’ team loses).

Down to ‘luck’?
But what I’m trying to say is that perhaps we could all benefit from looking at life as more of a game? In the actual board game called The Game of Life, which I played endlessly as a child, it comes down to the spin of the wheel to determine how many spaces to move forward, and what fate awaits you on that square. There are some choices along the way, such as whether to go the work or university route (and if you go the uni route, it still comes down to luck as to whether you land on the £20,000 a year salary of the of the lawyer – remember this is an OLD game! – or whether you ‘luck out’ and end up on a mere £6K a year); you can also choose other things such as whether or not to buy shares, depending on whether you are aiming to end up at the mansion or the humble cottage at the end of the game. But the thing is, if you do buy shares and then end up last on the board, you don’t get to benefit from them as only the people who get to the winner’s mansion first get to speculate and accumulate.
Anyway, the point is that this is just a game. I must admit I did often win this particular board game and then feel rather smug for the rest of the day that I had beaten my family (and would feel terribly pissed off when my brother always used to win the game Hotel, which is a glitzier version of Monopoly); but did it matter? Only to my mental state at the time. Why did I take it so seriously? (And perhaps this is why I take my ‘real’ life so seriously at times.)

Learn to lighten up
But what is the point in getting frustrated at losing a board game? Seems pretty futile. So if you look at life the same way, which invariably does come down to a spin of the wheel (the wheel of life card in tarot and the dharma wheel in Buddhism spring to mind) as to what happens to and around you, then it will be easier to get over things and take it all less seriously. OK, we all can and do make plans to try and steer in a particular direction in life, to go for the things we want, but ultimately, the control is often out of our hands.
So lighten up, learn to let go a bit more, have fun with life, take a few chances if you want to, and go out there and have fun!!!

Read Barefoot Doctor's exercise on how to lighten up and have more fun, in the September issue of Soul&Spirit magazine - on sale now! Visit www.soulandspiritmagazine.com for stockists.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Feeling in awe

Yesterday I was completely in awe of nature. Not only had the clouds looked stunning when I arrived back home after work Рthe sky was bright blue and the fluffy clouds in front of the sun had grey in the middle but bright white halos around them, looking almost cinematic in some way Рbut I then drove up to Ipswich to visit my parents and on the drive back, the clouds were even more amazing: deep oranges, reds and pinks as the setting sun cast its glow onto them. Then I discovered that the route I had chosen to go back was closed off, which was rather annoying to begin with as it meant doing a massive detour; however, to use a well-worn clich̩, every cloud has a silver lining, and my detour meant I drove through beautiful fields out in the country and got to experience the beauty of the sky for even longer. At one point I wanted to stop the car and just stand on the side of the road, marveling at this glowing red/orange ball hanging just above the horizon and spreading its warmth across the landscape and into the clouds, which were just spectacular (who says you have to go abroad to witness such amazing sunsets?!).

Magical moon
And then as I rounded a corner, something else took my breath away: a large, fulsome, bright white moon, also low in the sky! It sounds corny but I always smile when I see the moon – I can’t help it. I feel very attached to it, in some weird way, and just love to gaze up at it endlessly. It really is a spontaneous, happy feeling that arises when I see it, especially if it is full and low on the horizon.
Later that evening, I stood outside in the quiet night, bathed in the moonlight, which was lightning up the surrounding trees and gardens almost as if someone had a torch shining, such was its intensity (must remember to put my white crystals out tonight if it’s cloudless again). In the past I have sat outside and looked up at the moon for at least half an hour when it was surrounded by the biggest, brightest halo I’ve ever seen. I just get transfixed by it, and have to be careful when I can see it as I’m driving along, not to look too long but to pay attention to the road!
Then, this morning, I woke early to see the first rays of the rising sun shining onto the trees outside, so I got up to go for a walk. You can tell autumn is on its way due to a crispness in the air, but with a cloudless, clear blue sky and fresh air on my skin, I felt so invigorated, and so did a few of my chi gung exercises. I felt so grateful to be living in such a beautiful part of the world.

Nature really is the most awesome thing; I realised too, that all my ‘higher consciousness’ experiences – of which there have been three in my life to date, that I can recall – have all been while out in nature, alone. It’s something I would urge everyone to do, on a regular basis, as it can make you feel so much better about life, the universe, and everything.

And for more information on the moon and its phases, check out Soul&Spirit this month as you can find out what times are most conducive to certain activities, such as climbing the career ladder, resolving conflict, or moving on from a relationship. On sale now in Tesco, Sainsbury, ASDA, WHSmith and all good newsagents.

Sunday 22 August 2010

Why hating ageing is futile

Hands up who here hates the aging process? It's a stong, self-assured person who can say they don't, but my bet is that most of us are in the camp of wishing ageing didn't have to occur. There are benefits of getting older, though, such as increased knowledge and wisdom (and also hindsight, but that one is not always to great!). I'm primarily talking about physical ageing.

My reason for bringing this up is because I went to Tesco today for an eye exam (they are free, by the way - check it out!), and I caught myself, as I so often do, wishing I still had the perfect, 20/20 vision of my youth. My eyes are not that bad, only 0.50 in both eyes, making me slightly shortsighted, but rather than accepting this natural part of growing old, I so often wish I could turn back the clock when it comes to my body. OK, there are people such as Peter Grunwald who say you CAN improve your eyesight through various exercises and a change in perception - I attended one of his facinating workshops - and Deepak Chopra also espouses the theory that we can 'reinvent our bodies' which he talks about in his book Re-inventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul (which I am currently reading), but althoguh I am sure there is lots we can do to be proactive to preserve our bodies, we will all, inevitably, age and then die. So it's how we approach this process that will affect our quality of life.

Change is inevitable
Buddhism teaches that everything is impermanent. And while on an intellectual level I know this to be true, I still find myself getting cheesed off at my increasing number of white hairs (and not just on my head, I have white arm-pit hairs, white eye brow hairs and I even found one in a place I wont mention, the other day, much to my horror!!!). While I can and do dye my grey hairs (only the ones on my head, I must point out) and wear factor 30 sunscreen each day in a bid to stave off the wrinkles as long as possible, I have to come to terms with the fact it will all - my body, that is - disintegrate and turn to dust one day.
Just remembering this is a stark reminder that while I, and you, may try to maintain control over many aspects of our lives, Mother Nature is on course to do exactly as she wishes, whether I, or you, like it or not.

Don't fight it!
Learning to accept change and to see the beauty and wisdom in each progressive phase of life is the best way to stay healthy and happy. Just look at Louise Hay, founder of Hay House Publishing and a beacon of positivity and productivity in her 80s! I love her saying, which she often quotes when giving speeches in front of thousands, or to a camera for one of her videos, that she "chooses to make this decade the best of my life!"
Change is the nature of reality: either go with it and relax, or fight it and be stressed and miserable. OK so I may not be the best practitioner of this school of thought just yet, in fact sometimes I rail against it and wish I had back my 20-year-old body, but that thinking will only lead to sadness and suffering. Better to enjoy and be greatful for what I do have, and for how things are now, as that is the key to a happy life.

Saturday 21 August 2010

Feeling not so 'spiritual'

Spiritual people can’t be envious and jealous, right? Wrong. Having incorporated the elements of the F**k It! philosophy into my life since going on the F**k It! retreat in Italy last month (see previous post), I can start to see some anxiety and craving creeping back into my head already. Mostly in the form of thinking I ought to be doing more creatively, getting on with writing the book I have been mulling over for the past two years, and achieving more. But why? The Happiness At Work book I have also been mentioning, including in the most recent blog, gets you to really examine why you do things and what brings lasting happiness (tip: nothing brings you lasting happiness, at least nothing material). So why do I keep feeling the need to add to my list of things to do and achieve? I know what it is… jealousy. I know, very ‘unspiritual’ to admit to that, but you know what, having spent all morning not relaxing as I intended to do but instead surfing the net reading print journalism articles and things related to my career, rather than feeling empowered I am feeling, well, envious of all the other ‘great’ jobs other people are doing and what they have achieved. But why? I happen to be in the position (which to others is no doubt enviable) of loving my job and deriving great satisfaction from it. But I can’t help but hear a nagging little voice coming from somewhere inside, that – when I read about other people on other magazines, or with burgeoning careers as authors – makes me think that I wish I was them. How ludicrous! Where does this come from? It’s certainly not productive, and it’s this constant need for approval and accomplishment that drives people to become work-aholics.

And so I guess I am finding the F**k It! philosophy a little hard today – despite having read numerous article and books during the week that tell you quite plainly that nothing material can bring lasting happiness, all achievements will one day be history, and that actually, relaxing and thinking positively are in fact the best ways to achieve what you want, rather than feeling bad for not having done more already and thereby attracting more feelings of lack.
It’s all a learning curve I suppose, this being human; one minute having a profound spiritual experience of ‘oneness’ while on a walk in the park, to the next feeling slightly inadequate and comparing oneself (OK, Myself) to others and not in a favourable way at that.

So, I think that after posting this I will stop reading online, stop beating myself over the head – albeit lightly – and just lie on the sofa and do some circular breathing to get back into my body and out of my busy head – very much in the style of F**k It!

Friday 20 August 2010

ON SALE TODAY! September Soul&Spirit magazine

The September issue of Soul&Spirit is on sale now!

Included this month:
Ask the angels: Doreen Virtue’s new archangel cards have a healing message for you
What your dreams mean: Russell Grant begins his new column on dream interpretation
How to be lucky: Try these easy tips to increase your luck
“I saw my gran’s spirit”: Paranormal explorer, Ray Jorden is used to seeing ghosts

» In-depth horoscopes for love and work
» Your I Ching astro forecast for the month
» How to free your mind through meditation
» Barefoot Doctor’s words of wisdom

Also inside:
The science of psychic skills: UK psychic scientist Dr Lisa Turner PhD busts some commonly held myths about psychic skills, and says it’s something we can all learn to develop

What’s on your mind? Would you talk to others the way you talk to yourself? Are you too harsh on yourself? Discover why you need to make your mind an ally, instead of your enemy, and how to do it

Crystal cures: Open up to spirit and improve your communication skills with Azurite, said to be good for practicing divination and for giving you a boost when you need more confidence

Seeing spirits: What would it be like to come face to face with a ghost, spirit or angel? One reader has no doubt in the existence of angels and guides, as she’s had her own personal visitation – twice!

Thursday 19 August 2010

Who are you?

Do you believe you are who you are? Really? According to whom? These are some of the questions you will be forced to contemplate if you delve into the latest book by Srikumar Rao, entitled Happiness at Work (McGraw Hill).
It was these questions that I was pondering on my lunchtime walk just now. Rao says we all plays roles – we are all actors on this great world stage. He says the only constant in our lives is our consciousness, the ability to say “I am” with nothing added to that. For everything you ever add to that statement – “I am… a mother”, “I am an employee”, “I am happy” – can change with circumstances.
Then I thought about how perhaps we are all like cells, but on a macro level, with different jobs to do. I thought about how I would consider myself a communication cell, passing messages from one part of the body to another. Some people are lymphocytes and phagocytes (aren’t they the ones responsible for mopping up germs and dead cells? Sorry if I got this wrong, it was years ago I did biology!) which look after the body, like nurses etc. Others are builder cells, who construct the body in various ways, and repair things. And the rivers are arteries, and the roads are communication lines, and the trees are lungs etc. I was thinking what a great analogy this was, but then it dawned on me that we are not exactly comparable to cells, as each cell only has one function to perform – that we know of – whereas humans, as Rao says, can change what they decide to do. We have free will.
So, I could become a caring nurse cell, or a builder cell, if I chose to do so. So why do we chose the functions we do? Is it because they are innately easier to us? Do we have an inner guide to draw us to the things we are good at? I’m not saying I have the answers, but it’s an interesting thing to ponder. But one thing is for sure – we all do have the power and will to change our role. You don’t have to be a victim, or a martyr, or a winner, or a loser, or unhappy, or an employee, or anything; they are all just labels to describe what is going on at a present moment in time.

Free your mind
So, don’t get stuck thinking you are who you think you are. Everything evolves and changes, and you have a say in that. You can choose how to view your life; whether something is good or bad is all a matter of your perception, and things you may think are ‘bad’ may even turn out to be ‘good’. You’ll explore all this in Rao’s book, which is in my favourites list as it is seriously fantastic and mind expanding; it’s one of the best books I’ve read and I highly recommend it; though am not sure why it is called Happiness at Work, as I’m near the end and it has nothing to do with work, per se – it is applicable to everyone in every situation. Perhaps he was trying to attract executive types who stress a lot, and show them there is more to life than working to gain material possessions, as this is a strong message in some of the chapters.

dreaming of dying

The night before last I dreamt of death; not exactly my own, but in the first half of the dream I was at a place where there was a castle, in medieval times, and the man I was with decided to kill his father in the middle of the night by plunging a sword through his chest (!!). then people started to wake up and both myself and my lover had to go see the dead king and fake being upset, and then we fled in a camper van (or some kind of van - it wasn't so medieval now!) and were hiding out in the Suffolk town of Woodbridge! later in the dream, myself and others were running away from a scary group of men who were after us. We hd run upstairs but I could find no place to hide, and one of the men saw me and I just crouched down into a tiny ball and he shot me with a tranquilizer dart! So I didnt' actually die, but he came over to see whether I was conscious and I was, but I pretended not to be able to move much, hoping he would go away, which in the end he did. and this is all I can remember.

The reason for dying?
This seems pretty horrible, but the next day I was speaking to my advertising lady, who's very knowledgeable about all things spiritual, especially anaything Pagan or to do with Tarot, and she suggested that death symbolised re-birth - the ending of an old cycle. A ha! I thought, this would make sense considering that same day I had had an EFT session with Sharon King (she's on skype at sharon.eft), as during the session we were working on clearing up some painful blocked emotion lodged in my chest. She took me back through the ages of my life to see when it had happened, and I found myself being quite surprised that it was there the whole time, right back to being in the womb. And this is the part where she asked me to envisage a guide to help show me when the pain originated (the white/purple angel I mentioned in the last blog).

Past life memory
So, this angel showed me a scene of a castle, where I was working as a stable girl, tending to a horse. I was deeply sad as the man I loved had left me. I wont go into detail about the whole session as it will take ages, but basically, we tapped on the memory of the girl, then the angel filled her with golden light and showed her the future, which was happy with her and her new husband and family. This made her feel better, more confident and strong. And then we brought this healing golden energy back into the present, into me before I came into this body, so as to release the stuck enery right now. and it worked! (OK so part of me was sceptical, as always, that I had been just making it all up in my mind, but then the outcome was positive and I ended up going on to have the amazing walk in the park - see previous blog 'higher states of consciousness' so for me, the session worked).

So back the death dream: I wondered, then, whether I truly had shifted some energy from my past, and started a new, positive cycle, and the dream wwas signifying the ending of that old me, trapped in negative cycles with relationships, and starting a fresh new phase??? It's perhaps too soon to tell, but perhaps if I truly believe it, then I will see results, as the mind is a powerful thing...

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Seeing angels

Yesterday I had an EFT session with Sharon King, in which one part required me to bring in a guide to help me (as we had gone back to pre-birth where there was located a trauma to be healed, more of which later). Instantly I had no trouble envisaging my guide as a large angel, which in my mind’s eye I could see as being mainly bright white but with a sort of purplish hue around the edges.
Then this morning, upon reading through text from one of Diana Cooper’s books that we are extracting for an upcoming angel cover mount book, I read this: “At the first angel workshop I ran, I was guiding a meditation. I was clearly told that we were all being too analytical and must stop thinking. Instead we must fill our minds with the colours white and violet. Immediately I felt an immense white-violet light flame in my third eye. I had the most incredible sensation of peace and oneness. Afterwards I discovered that many had felt this same powerful feeling as the angels came closer. To immerse ourselves in the colour white-violet or violet will increase our vibratory rate.”

My first thought was, ‘Wow! I am tuning into the same angel as Diana did – it must have been real!’ but I soon thought afterwards what mind magician Derren Brown would have said: he would have said that having read through the text briefly a few weeks ago when I was choosing what text I wanted to use from Diana’s book – which I did do – I read these words and so my subconscious already had ‘white’ and ‘violet’ in it when relating to angels, so when I was asked to visualise an angel yesterday, this is what my brain came up with.
Derren discounts most of the spiritual phenomena, saying it can all be explained scientifically. I watched with awe one of his stage shows, being shows on Channel4 OD online, in which he accurately predicted what word a random woman in the audience would circle from a randomly selected newspaper from another randomly selected woman in the audience who had torn up the pages. It was incredible. But then at the end of the show he revealed how he’d done the trick; from the beginning, he had been feeding subliminal messages to the audience through what he’d said. He had slipped in the words ‘Daily’ and ‘Mail’ on more than one occasion, as well as the page number he wanted the woman to choose. He had also spoken the word he wanted her to select at numerous points throughout the earlier part of the show. I admit when I was watching it the first time I did pick up on one of the instances where what he said didn’t sound quite right – which was because he had slipped in a word that was incorrect in that context but which he needed to say in order to strengthen the message – but I soon dismissed it as not hearing him correctly (how many times do we do that in real life perhaps?). Watching the parts of the show afterwards when he had clearly been giving these subliminal messages to the audience was fascinating, and makes you wonder why they, and I, did not pick up on it – but then we were not looking for anything out of the ordinary so why would we (on a separate note, it makes you see how advertising is so powerful as the constant stream of images and messages we receive really do have an effect – just look at the vast number of people who think body hair is unnatural and ‘gross’ because we have been trained to think it is by the media, so we can buy their products to remove it – but I digress).

Real or just ‘in the mind’?
My point here is this: was I really tuning in to a white/violet angel just as Diana did, and truly tapping into some other spiritual realm in my therapy session, or was my brain creating that image based on something I read weeks ago but had forgotten? Who knows? Having Libra rising in my astrology birth chart, I am able to sit on the fence quite comfortably and argue for both sides. But it did make me sit up and take note when I read about Diana’s white/violet angel. And comforting to think that perhaps I too was tuning into a real angel. And perhaps that is the point; whether or not science disregards it, if you feel comforted, if you shift negative emotions, if you feel you have benefited from a spiritual experience, then surely that is all that matters?

My message to relax?

Aug 18, 2010
Do you believe in synchronicities? I have done for the past couple of years and even starting writing them down in a diary on my computer. The definition of a synchronicity is still not entirely clear to me, but I view it as an event, or a thing, that occurs to me as having a meaning, as it seems to be a message related to something I have either been thinking or doing. For example, I often see ‘messages’ on car registration plates – certain letters and numbers that are meaningful to me and perhaps signposts? – or overhearing someone say a word that relates to something I was just contemplating. Anyway, so yesterday, as I was driving along and turned onto the main road near where I live, and was behind a truck with the reg plate KE53 RLX. So I took it as another sign to chill out and relax, as the KE is my initials (and the 5+3 equals 8, which is the day I was born, though that is a bit more tenuous) and the RLX, to me, clearly was saying ReLaX!!!
It made me smile anyway…

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Higher state of consciousness?

There have been a couple of times in my life where I have felt as if I slipped into a different zone; not a drug-induced one, but naturally, while out in nature. Today, while not quite like the other couple of times in the past, I felt compelled to go for a walk in the country park adjacent to where I live, following a great EFT session with a lady called Sharon King (more of which in a later blog).

I'd had an impression in my mind of walking in a specific part of this park: not out in the open fields where I normally go, but along the path that runs through the woods, with tall trees on both sides. And as soon as I entered this area, I then felt drawn to stopping by a wooden bench and doing some of the simple twists and stretches I’d gotten used to doing while at The Hill That Breathes retreat in July (see previous blog). Twisting my spine in both directions and letting my arms flop by my sides, then leaning right, and then left, followed by what they call a ‘roll down’ in pilates (where you drop your chin to your chest and then roll down slowly until your arms are flopping to the floor), I then stretched out my rather tight quads and hamstrings. And then, in this fairly quiet spot in the woods, with no one else around, I adopted the first chi gung pose John taught us – standing with feet hip-width apart, pelvis tucked slightly under so the spine is straight, shoulders back but relaxed, and arms help very slightly away from the body and elbows also very slightly bent, looking like you’re a cowboy about to go for his guns. This position allows the chi – energy – to better circulate around the body. I varied the posture too, bringing my arms up as if cradling a large beach ball. And it was while standing like that that my mind, or my awareness, seemed to shift and my body no longer felt the same, as if it were not really a part of me. It’s very hard to describe exactly how it felt, but it was as if I was so very comfortable in this standing position, and could have stayed like that for ages, with my eyes softly focusing on the tree in font of me, which was on the other side of the path. I felt so still and calm, yet alive. I then became aware of my heart beating in my chest, and how the quality of that felt different to usual; normally it feels like its pounding up against a steel wall or something, but now it felt softer, more fluid, I want to say ‘slippery’ almost, but then I’m aware that in Chinese medicine, to have a slippery pulse is not a good thing. But anyway, it was just a different quality of beating, somehow. And then, in that quiet space, I looked to my left and saw what I first thought was a skinny dog approacing, but then realised it was a deer crossing the path - how incredible! I've never seen deer before in the woods (though obviously they must live there) and I took it as a testament to my stillness that the deer had not noticed me and felt comfortable enough to show itself.

I didn’t stay standing like that for too long, though, as I was also aware that at any moment someone might come walking along with their dog, and I would feel embarrassed to be caught out standing like a statue on my own!
And so I walked on and found myself being drawn to want to walk off the path and into the trees. There, I felt more comfortable standing in the chi gung stances, being aware of my body, feeling it making subtle changes to its posture – a little move of the foot here, a straightening of the knees or tilting of the hips there – so as to be most comfortable and relaxed. And again, I stood and just observed what was around me. With soft focus, I gazed at the trees, and listened to the surrounding sounds of dogs barking, children screaming as they whizzed past on bikes, people talking in the distance, an ambulance siren, the birds twittering. I felt so incredibly calm and still.

When I emerged from the trees, I carried on along the path until I came to the end, where it splits off in three other directions into the woods. With no one else around, I did some more gentle stretches, mainly involving the spine, and then started my walk back. And that was when I noticed another ‘shift’ in consciousness; now, I was acutely aware of everything around me, including in my peripheral vision. It was as if I was taking everything in: the sounds – the sights, the smells – and my walking pace had slowed right down. In fact, I don’t think I have ever walked like that in my entire life. My joints felt loose, relaxed, flowing. Each step felt light; in fact, it was as if my body was actually supported from something above, and my legs were just circling round, with my feet lightly touching on the ground each time they reached the bottom of a cycle. I know this might sounds bit daft, and you might wonder whether I had taken any mind-altering substances prior to this walk, but I assure you I had not. It was the most easy, smooth, relaxed walk I’ve ever had! It’s hard to describe why it was so different to usual, but it was; my whole body felt relaxed, my arms hung down gently, and the muscles in my legs, while they obviously were working, felt soft; it was just no effort at all, I was walking for the sake of walking, not to get anywhere or do anything.

I then became aware of a small clump of leaves in a tree to my left, moving too fast for it to be the wind, and as I got closer I could see there was a squirrel right there in the branches. It did not seem to be too bothered about me being there, within a few metres, as I think I was so calm and quiet I had not disturbed it. In my normal state, I march along, like a woman on a mission, expending a great deal of energy in my legs and with my mind lost in thought that I don’t always pay attention to what is around me; normally, I would have missed the delight of watching this reddish grey squirrel scampering up and down the branches.

All the time my mind was desperately trying to come back on line and take me out of the ‘now’ and into a train of repetive, useless thoughts – even ones thinking about just how I would describe that experience when writing on this blog! – and as soon as my mind did get distracted, I realised I was not paying close attention to my environment anymore, and suddenly felt surprised when a man appeared on a bench to my left, who I would have noticed sooner had I been fully in the ‘now’ and noticing things.

By the time I reached the end of the wooded path, my altered state of consciousness, or whatever it was, had worn off a bit, but I managed to maintain the slow, gentle, relaxed walking pace all the way home, where I laid down on the sofa and drifted off into a semi-conscious sleep for about 20 minutes. It’s hard to accurately describe just what ‘happened’ in the park, as it was not an external event; nothing to do with the trees, or the weather or anything like that, but to do with inside of me, my perceptions and awareness. Having read about this type of thing for so long in books, perhaps finally I am starting to have glimpse of that more enlightened state of being that people so often try to attain. I’ve had two other instances in my adult life similar to this, which no doubt I’ll write about another time, but the thing is this: you can’t go looking for this feeling, it just happens. I did not go into the park with the intention of experiencing a new awareness or higher state of consciousness, I just followed where my intuition was leading me and did as my body guided me to do. But this chi gung stuff – I’ll certainly be doing it more often now; seems like it’s just the right way to get me out of my head and more into my body.

I dreamed a dream (but not such a great one!)

My subconscious mind must be feeling anxious and stressed in some way. Even though on the surface everything seems fine, the reasons I believe there to still be some underlying anxiety are two-fold: firstly, my eczema seems to be getting worse, not better (someone told me eczema was lined to stress, or I suppose it could be an over-worked liver trying to process all the sugar and wheat I consumed last week???); and the second reasons is the content of my dreams.

Having just jolted awake at 7am – quite unnaturally, too, as I was still mid dream and not inclined to wake up just yet thanks to a late night – I can now recall bits of the dream, the part just before gaining consciousness (I believe it’s called a ‘hypnogogic’ state? I’d never heard of that word before we did a dream feature in the magazine). Anyway, what I can remember is running like mad to get on a train that was due to leave in a few minutes. In fact, I got to the platform with five minutes to spare, saw the train was due to leave from the opposite site and so had to leg it over the stairs that cross the tracks, and down the other side. All the while, what seemed like hundreds of people were hot on my heels, right behind me running down the stairs, also trying to board the same train. And then the train started to move further down the tracks so I was actually running after it, and had to grab the door frame and pull myself in, which I was pretty proud of myself for doing. Once inside, I recalled some advice given to me by a friend not to sit in the front carriage as if there is a crash, that is the one to take the biggest impact so you are most likely to die (!!!), and so started to wander further down the carriages. However, there weren’t any people further down and there were in the first carriage, so I felt drawn back there to sit near to people I thought looked nice. In the end, once the hoards had caught up with the train and gotten on, I ended up sandwiched between two women.
So the underlying feeling of the dream was one of rushing, trying to get somewhere, stressing. And it’s not the first dream I’ve had about trains, or making sure not to miss them. Another comman theme for my night time visions is trying to escape either from a large multi storey car park, a shopping centre, or a hotel. The place always seems to change and I end up getting in lifts to try and reach another floor but often the buttons don’t work, or there isn’t a button for the floor I want, so I end up going round and round. Also there is sometimes someone chasing me (once it was Daniel Craig as James Bond!!!). And occasionally they do catch up with me and I experience panic. Or, the lift plummets down really fast, or the walls of it close in and I feel trapped. Fun huh!!! While not exactly nightmares that leave me sweating profusely on waking, they must be conveying anxiety of some kind.

If I look at my personal life, which has been somewhat circuitous this year – back and forth and not sure in which direction I was or am going – then perhaps this is just being reflected in my dreams: that I still feel lost and directionless, or that there is some sort of rush to get somewhere and I am always struggling with it. Ultimately I suppose it reflects an even stronger need than I thought to just relax and adopt John and Gaia’s F**k It! approach (I know I keep mentioning it and them but I will for a while as I loved that place), and do some meditation or something to still my racing mind. I thought I’d started that process but seems, from the content of my dreams at least, that I have some way to go…

To read more about dream interpretations in Russell Grant’s new column for Soul&Spirit, including his interpretation of one of Katy's dreams, buy the September issue, which is on sale this Friday in Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury, WHSmith, Borders, McColls, and leading independent newsagents (visit soulandspiritmagazine.com)

Monday 16 August 2010

Busy doing nothing ...

... OK, well not quite nothing - I have been doing something this weekend. However, rather than the usual full-on, activity filled weekend going here there and everywhere, I've been really embracing Gaia Pollini's advice (the lady with whom I had a healing session at The Hill That Breathes) to do less, be still more often, and just generally be more 'yin' (quiet, restful, nurturing) as opposed to 'yang' (outgoing, active, energetic). And so I've been at home pretty much all of the weekend, having early night both Friday and Saturday. Normally I would view such behaviour as dull and boring - surely you must be out on a Saturday night? Well maybe, but for now I am thoroughly enjoying having some peacful, quiet time. I even managed to finish the last three quarters of a huge crime fiction novel I started the other day! (by Linwood Barclay - I've just discovered him and he's great, almost as good as Dan Brown in my opinion).

Clean on the outside...
However, I wasn't entirely inert: I cleaned. Housework is, for me, normally an annual event, sometimes bi-annual, but I was so fed up of piles of 'stuff' around the house, not to mention a carpet that desperately needed vacuuming, so I got stuck in, and once started couldn't stop. I fully embrace the idea that your outer environment can either reflect or influence your inner world - I've not only read enough books on feng shui and space clearing to know it has an effect, but I actually experience it for myself. Whenever I walk into a messy kitchen or bathroom, my subconscious quiety groans, and that can have an impact on my mood. Whereas when I enter my now orderly, tidy bedroom, and gleaming bathroom, I feel uplifted and calm. Clearing out your clutter is one of THE best ways to give yourself an instant feel-good boost. Now I've started, I'm going to continue with the clothes, shoes (well, maybe not all the shoes - I'm rather attached to them) and any unused items in the kitchen, and either take them to the charity shop or have a car boot sale. It really does make such a difference to the way I feel, walking into a clean and tidy home.

Clean on the inside
To add to the cleansing effects, I also had a mini detox - as I'd been stuffing myself with pizza, pasta and all manner of sweet things at work during the week - and so decided to drink freshly made veg and fruit juices, with a couple of bowls of porridge and fruit, and just one main meal on Sunday evening of lots of salad and fish. I feel so much better for my cleansing weekend, both inner and outer, and my plan now is to maintain it!

Friday 13 August 2010

New ways to change your life

There’s no doubting that we humans get ourselves stuck in habitual patterns in life, whether that be negative cycles in relationships, or over eating, or other addictive behaviour from which we just can’t seem to break free. Of course, this can be true of positive habits and cycles, but it’s the unhelpful patterns we want to work on and to be free from – but how?
Yesterday I met Karl Dawson, EFT Master (emotional freedom technique), who has discovered the ‘next step on’ from EFT, which he calls ‘Matrix Reimprinting’.
How it differs from EFT – which is where you tap on various energy points on the body while talking about a negative past experience, in order to move the blocked energy and therefore release you from the negative pattern – is that now you not only tap on yourself, but you go into the painful past memory, which Karl calls an ‘echo’, and imagine tapping on that younger version of yourself to free the trapped energy from the you from the past.
Then, you recreate a positive image to replace the old negative one.
I had a session, which I will write about more fully in an upcoming issue of the magazine, and maybe also on this blog, but I just wanted to write down a few of my thoughts from the session.

Everything is energy

In his book Matrix Reimprinting using EFT: Rewrite your past, transform your future (Hay House; £12.99), Karl explains, using examples of studies done by other eminent spiritual scientist such as Bruce Lipton and others, how everything in the universe is vibrating, and that everything is energy no matter how solid it appears. Also, that what happens with humans is that often in the first six years of life, when we are most impressionable, we can inadvertently create negative beliefs in response to certain events, which sets up a vibrational pattern that can go on to become the bane of our lives.
What happens, says Karl, is that our traumatic events get trapped in the matrix of life and end up repeating themselves over and over, unless we put a stop to them by telling the body that the trauma is now over and doesn’t need to continue with that thought or behaviour. And Matrix Reimprinting, he says, can do this with a 100 per cent success rate (though the number of sessions needed can vary from person to person).

Law of attraction
Karl also talks about how this all relates to the Law of Attraction, and how we send out vibrations to the Matrix through our hearts. We attract back events and people similar in vibration to ourselves. Therefore, if you have negative core beliefs – especially ones that are subconscious, as these are the ones that rule our lives – then saying affirmations on their own wont work: you have to deal with the underlying issues first in order to then attract what you do want.
This is all a hugely interesting subject for me, and one I will be looking into more deeply. But what I have discovered so far, is that the more therapies I try and books I read, the more I find similarities and links between them all. And this makes sense, because it’s all an evolutionary process at the end of the day. Twenty years few people would have believed in EFT (I don’t think it had been invented then), but it is based on things like acupuncture and psychotherapy, which have been around thousands of years. The energy therapies are evolving and changing as we learn more about how energy works, and Matrix Reimprinting seems to me to be at the forefront of these techniques. Though in another ten years or so, I’m sure there will be further developments and refinements as we evolve to a greater understanding of how the universe works, and there will be more therapies with new names. But this is as it should be – everything changes and evolves.

Wednesday 11 August 2010

Learning to let go in Italy...

So now I've finally started this blogging malarkey, what will I write about? That's almost a rhetorical question as I have been keeping a diary on my computer for years, and am always writing tons in that, so it's not as if I get stuck for words. However, writing for other people to read is another matter - people can read my words and make judgements, not only about the writing but about me. And how do I feel about that? So far I'm not too sure, but what I do know is that I have so many questions about spirituality, mainly sparked by the interesting conversations I have with people I meet through work, that I want to get them out there into the public domain to find out whether other people questions things as I do, or feel the same way, as I am sure they do. So I am going to push past the 'fear' of thinking I might 'write the wrong things' or get stuck for what to say and how to say it, and stop being such a perfectionist and just write whatever comes to me!
So, one of my most recent exploits was to visit The Hill That Breathes in Italy, where a lovely couple, John and Gaia, not only live but own and run a retreat centre. I got back a couple of weeks ago, and I felt truly fantastic. The reason why? well, I had attended one of their now infamous F**k It! weeks. When john first published his book, entitled F**k It! The Ultimate Spiritual Way (I think that is the full title) I will admit I felt slightly outraged that someone could have the audacity to publish a supposedly 'spiritual' book with the F word on the cover (despite the asterixes). And so I didn't read it. I shunned it.
However, sometimes you are not ready for things, and only when you are, can you accept them and learn from them. It's like that saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will come along. Well, I think this is what happened with me and the F**k It! philosophy. As the editor of a spiritual magazine, I get tons of books and read lots of things about different spiritual perspectives, and even for years before this job I was mildly (OK my friends would say severely) obsessed with self-help/self-development books, and I think it had just all gotten a bit too much for me. Too many view points, and not enough action on my part to encompass any of the wisdom into my life. So why was the F**k It! week so great? Well, because for the first time in ages, not only did I get to step away from my usual routine, my usual worries, but it was like being given permission to put all the baggage down for a while and have a rest, and listen to John and Gaia talk about how it's OK to just be; it's OK to have good and bad moments; it's OK not to have all the answers and not to know what to do sometimes; it's OK to eat junk food sometimes and not always exercise; it's OK to be kind to myself and accept myself as I am, good AND bad points (because it's all good really - and I don't just mean that about me, but everybody), and that I don't need to keep placing more and more 'things to do' on my life list - that it's OK to just stop and smell the proverbial roses from time to time and enjoy the place I am at (which is actually pretty good).
John and Gaia had been in the rat race of London and said 'no more' and moved to Italy to chill out and live in a gorgeous place in the hills. That's not to say they don't get stressed or have difficult moments, as everyone does, but what I really got from that week was that I can leave my stress behind, and the constant low-level anxiety that makes me feel like I should be doing more, achieving more, earning more, travelling more, and knowing exactly in what direction to go. During the week, which was really very simple yet effective, we all (27 of us) did easy chi gung exercises, circular breathing, 'shaking' (which is literally just jiggling around on the spot for about ten minutes, like you have ants in your pants), and beating ourselves - OK not beating as in physical violence, but as in tapping hard along meridian lines to get the stagnant energy flowing. And boy did I have a lot of stagnant energy.
I could go on and write endlessly about how much I loved the F**k It! week but, as usual, I have probably already written way too much and this blog post will be starting to resemble a mini essay. So I'll save talking about my one-to-one session with Gaia until another time. Right now, I'm off to brew a pot of her amazing green tea, which we all tried in her famous tea ceremony and it made me feel like I was high! (again, more on that in another blog post; watch this space...)
But finally, if you happen to be one of those high-achieving types who always thinks you have to do more more more, then I would highly recommend you check out John Parkin's book - F**k It! The Ultimate Spiritual Way, as you'll get to see life a little differently and maybe ease up on yourself (at least for a little while).