I never set out to write a weekly blog. As a busy, working mother of six, I had other aspirations about how to spend my time on a Sunday evening. (Lying in bed sipping a Gin & Tonic while my husband Brian preoccupied himself in the kitchen making homemade organic gnocchi for me, and fresh fruit-smoothies for the kids had always sounded more appealing!)
But if there was anything I learnt over the past 43 years, it is that life very rarely goes how you intend it to go. So in my role as director of the Innate Health Centre, the non-profit organisation that I cofounded some years back whose mission is to explain the source of our innate mental well-being and resilience – and having grown tired of waiting for the gnocchi – I decided it was time to start sharing my reflections and insights in the form of a short weekly blog.
What began as a brief Monday morning message from the Innate Health Centre soon grew into a weekly snapshot of my own life: my struggles and triumphs, my ups and downs, my moments of joy and moments of misery. But these musings were far from random in terms of the underlying implication. No matter what was going on inside my head and heart at the time, underpinning these reflections was always one fundamental theme: the inside-out logic of how we psychologically experience life (as will be explained in the coming pages).
Most weeks, when I sat down on my bed or on the bike at the gym to write the week’s blog I had absolutely no idea what to say. Seriously. So I would challenge myself to start tapping the touch keys on my iPhone and see what emerged. (Believe it or not, every one of the initial drafts was written entirely on my phone; perhaps a better book title would have been “Insights from an iPhone”?) Each week, out of this space of “nothingness”, I the Mind offered me in the moment insights that I had unknowingly been living with and learning during that past week. So to me, writing these weekly reflections has just been another illustration of the inherent human capacity for inevitable evolution, for sharper clarity, for awakening to deeper feelings and for understanding and truth to emerge.
Every essay encapsulates a glimpse into the very ordinary, and yet paradoxically extraordinary business of human living. Much of the outline of my life has emerged over the course of these reflections – children, work, family, faith, relationships, holidays, expectations, disappointments, new opportunities – pretty much the entire gamut of day-to-day living.
From the mundanity of dealing with kids’ bedtime to the surreal moments of deep connection when I was suddenly beset with a mysterious neurological illness. From the pain of hearing about a young girl’s rejection to the sheer joy of horse riding with my four-year-old son in one of the most exquisite places on earth. From insights gleaned from peaches and coconuts, giraffes, illusionists, employment training, Walt Disney films, Manchester United and my own children to learning about judgement, decision-making, addictive thinking and dealing with exhaustion, hurt, pain, loss and disappointment. From the confusion generated by the election of a new president to the legacy of love and clarity left by some of the greatest leaders the world has known. From the deep insights that emerged in some of my darkest moments to the inspiration generated from the moving journey of a profoundly deaf friend. From the lessons that I have learned from children as young as eight, to the deep understanding that has emerged through learning from extraordinary and gifted teachers I am blessed to call friends and colleagues. From the moments I felt vulnerable, confused and deeply challenged, to the times I felt inspired, clear and full of hope.
They were all there, because they were all moments of learning for me.
The profound explanation that all experience only ever works one way re-engaged me with a love of learning. I had assumed that this kind of innate, in-the-moment, real-time learning was the sole domain of the under-fives’ or those crazy but lucky adults who never seemed to properly grow up. But I had been wrong. Anytime I found myself comprehending and awake to the truth of how my experience was coming to life, it simultaneously revealed an appreciation for the fact that I and every human is already wired for learning. This truth revealed an absolute direction for continued insight and inevitable growth. It revealed the always reliable, single, true or false discriminator of whether I was being deceived by an innocent illusion or whether I was seeing through the facade. These essays are a testimonial of this natural unfolding. They are a window into my weekly learning.
And if the blogs are the window, there is one common frame on which it all rests: the Principles that are the one, singular and constant cause and catalyst of all human experience.
Waking up to these Principles undoubtedly forced change in my perspective and the direction of my life. Mostly in a way I did not expect. I thought, for a while, that an understanding of the human mind would enable me to live life in a state of equanimity and spiritual serenity. It would open me up to experiencing a constantly beautiful feeling, a deeply quiet mind and a consistent capacity to be non-reactive to the events of my life. That has not been the case, though I have certainly experienced and enjoyed more of the above at different times.
Mostly, this learning has brought about a peace with myself. An embrace of my humanity. And an embrace of the humanity of others – far more than I ever thought possible. A knowing that I too am susceptible to fall into misunderstanding and be carried into the ego of self-importance. And a knowing that emotional security and psychological safety are my birthright; a birthright that can never, ever be dependent on outside factors. It simply does not work this way.
And finally, but perhaps most important of all, this learning has allowed me to run into God on a daily basis in a way I never dreamt possible.
So I invite you to join me on the ongoing journey of learning. Who knows what or who you may run into on the way?
THIS IS THE SECOND IN A SERIES OF REFLECTIVE ESSAYS, MANY OF WHICH HAVE BEEN BRILLIANTLY ILLUSTRATED BY JOHN SCOTT, THAT HAVE BEEN COLLECTED FOR MY NEW BOOK.
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER THE PEACH WHO THOUGHT SHE HAD TO BE A COCONUT AT THE DISCOUNTED PRICE OF £7.99.
All proceeds from the sale of the book go towards supporting the non-profit educational programmes of the Innate Health Centre.