The extraordinary thing about connecting with Pat is that he was NOTHING like anyone I’d been hanging out with in decades. For a start, his favourite place to socialise was the pub – something that was completely alien to me being a tee-totalling ordained Buddhist. It wasn’t just the drinking that made Pat and I an unlikely couple, however, it was also the smoking, the meat eating and the TV watching – Pat’s that is!
Much as I’d been massively sensitised to avoid all that – in fact I’d taken VOWS against most of it – and would normally find those behaviours repellent, in Pat’s case I didn’t seem to notice. This is a bit of an odd phenomenon to describe, but I guess it was a matter of connecting with Pat’s true being so profoundly, and finding him so compelling at that deep level, that those relatively superficial things just didn’t register.
In fact I have now come to recognise that these differences between us have been part of the magic of our relationship and one of my greatest learnings. Falling in love with a man who, in spiritual circles, is considered to behave so ‘blasphemously’ has been an excellent antidote to any spiritual preciousness I was carrying. It helped me drop any hoity toity idea of what is proper and ‘spiritual’ – the right thing to eat, the right thing to wear, the right thing to say – and recognise that true spirituality comes in many guises.
So how come I found this beer swilling, cigarette puffing, oft swearing Cornishman so compelling? The truth is, Pat is one of the most profoundly spiritually evolved people I have ever known, and I must have instinctively sensed that right away, despite appearances.
He is a trickster, a holy fool – often misunderstood and misjudged – but those who see and love him, really see and love something extraordinary. For a start, although he can appear fierce, impatient and provocative (a red-headed, Aries/Dragon-born Cornishman with attitude), Pat loves powerfully and unconditionally and carries no judgement of others. His challenges are a form of play and a call for whoever he is talking to wake up to themselves. Most unusually, however, he is not doing it for any personal gratification – to score a point or make himself feel good – and is not attached to any particular outcome. In fact, most often his playful prods are involuntary, a kind of automatic truth seeking device. He calls it his curse, but of course it is his gift too.
True Love Cuts Deep
Finding the right partner is a popular priority amongst my coaching clients. I’ve had the great joy of assisting many through to that magical moment of meeting someone amazing – the ‘wow’ moment when all the soul work pays off. I’ve also had the fulfilment of then supporting the same person navigate the deepening waters of relationship once it’s established (sometimes coaching the couple together).
The job’s not done when we finally meet our match. Not surprisingly, whatever personal issues we each carry about relationship re-emerge big time once the relationship is under way. It is all there to be made conscious and explored and resolved should we choose to, and actually being with someone throws it all up into stark, potent reality.
There is something about a sexual love relationship that touches us more deeply than anything else. It stirs up our deepest and darkest as well as our most brilliant and best. This is something I was re-assuring a newly love-sick client about only last week. ‘A fine mess you’ve got me into, Stanley’ she titled her email. ‘Help! I can’t eat, work, sleep….’
Of course, I hadn’t got her into anything. She’d called it all up herself, and after three months of diligent intention and attention, had manifested the most incredible match imaginable. She found ‘Him’! This is a person with so much sorted, so much going for her. Yet, she has only just opened a door to a whole new rich and vulnerable dimension of herself by finally opening to deep relationship.
This is something I can relate to. Before meeting Pat, I’d spent the best part of twenty years living semi-monastically in a Buddhist community. Our romantic relationships were conducted peripherally, and we were encouraged to live and work independently in order to dedicate ourselves to our spiritual practice. It was a perspective that eventually led me to resign my ordination.
Deep down I knew that my greatest spiritual growth opportunity was destined to come from entering deeply into a loving partnership with a man. And I was right. What was in store for me upon meeting Pat was nothing short of a spiritual renaissance. It also prompted the discovery of my true vocation in Thrivecraft, and has been the most fruitful and creative time of my life.
You Know Best
You know best. You do! It was only once I started learning from this wonderful, maverick, not-what-you-expect-from-a-spiritual guy, Holy Cornishman that I started to really take this in for myself that I know best. That and the fact that I am ‘good enough’ just the way I am!
The magical truth is that, ultimately, each of us knows what is best for ourselves. But more often than not, we can’t hear our own inner voice speak. Or, we can’t tell whether to trust it even if it is clear what it is saying.
Say, for example, you are considering quitting your job to pursue something more satisfying. How do you know for sure that you’d be doing the right thing? One part of you says, “I need the money, I can’t risk it”. Another part says, “I’m unhappy and feel like I’m throwing my life away”. Then another (a voice in your head that sounds rather like your mum’s) says, “Better the devil you know…”
How do you sift through all the inner arguments and find best way forward? How do you know for sure? How do we KNOW our hunches are right, that you are making the right decisions and choices in life? Which inner voice is the wise one? This is the number one issue people ask me about. And so, this book includes some guidelines on how to find and trust your own reliable source of inner wisdom.
But Am I Getting It Right?
Maybe you have been inspired by spiritual growth, self help and personal development for some time, perhaps you are even a coach, counsellor, teacher or caring professional yourself. You have a pile of books that have guided you to meet the right partner, practice meditation and attract abundance. You have attended workshops, watched videos, taken online courses and gained qualifications. You have put some amazing things into place in your life and connected with some lovely like minded people along the way.
And it has been great. Fantastic stuff – life is so much better for it. However, there is still a nagging feeling that you could do better, that you are not good enough or doing it right. Maybe you are not practicing your meditation often enough, or earning enough money from your coaching practice, or managing to stick to those healthy foods that you KNOW do you so much good. And even though you are well versed in the principle that love triumphs fear – and so should know better! You are still not free of those low-level, creeping doubts, worries and fears.
Believe me, you are not alone. I know thousands of people just like you who share this paradox – terrific, inspiring, positive people who are doing fantastic things in their professional and personal lives, but still give themselves a hard time, myself included occasionally! I was pondering this phenomenon when I suddenly got it. We believe that we are supposed to learn lessons and continually ‘improve’ ourselves, when actually, we don’t need to work at change a thing. Not really, at least, not with that attitude. It is far more important that we realise that we are already perfect, just the way we are.
Perfect Just the Way You Are
But aren’t we supposed to be ridding ourselves of ego, accepting our inner child and forgiving those who have wronged us? Our books and teachings are full of instructions on the art of waking up, healing wounds, letting go and moving on. And the whole coaching model is about getting from where you are now to where you want to be.
However, if we look deeply into the spiritual essence of any edict that really works, you will see there is only one true starting point – LOVE YOURSELF JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. It is in accepting yourself just the way you are, first and foremost, that real and lasting positive change is catalysed. That is the transformational power of love. Changeless change, or at least, effortless, graceful, natural change.
In fact, I watched the new year London fireworks on TV with the first few chapters in one hand and my wonderful husband Pat’s hand in the other, buzzing because I had just managed to finish writing my first good draft that evening. I had been aiming to complete my book by the end of the year, but had given myself some licence to go over that if necessary. When I realised I was nearly there on the morning of the 31st, however, I went all out to get it done in time for the dawn of 2015, forgoing meals and typing with happy fervour.
At Pat’s suggestion, we read out a chapter to each other before bed in the wee hours. I hadn’t shared my book with anyone before so was thrilled that he absolutely loved it and can’t wait to read it all. I feel so supported by Pat who has been nudging me to get on with book writing for years. And now I’ve finally done it!
Things took an interesting turn on New Year’s day when our Jeep broke down while food shopping in the neighboring village. Yet, even that was somewhat charmed because a lovely young farmer man with typical practical confidence and know-how spent an hour trying to start it – a bearded angel in oily jeans and a pick-up truck. I had actually put out a prayer for a mechanical angel to show up, and he did!
Despite his good-willed attempts, this angel didn’t manage to get the Jeep going, bless him, but my sister Katy, who lives in the village, kept me company at her house and supplied me with tea while we waited for my vehicle recovery service. (She also bought the helpful young man some bottles of beer as a thank you which he appreciated). As I was there, I helped Katy get some boxes into her attic and she passed on to me some lovely clothes that she no longer needed.
The recovery guy got the Jeep started first time with the help of some injector fuel (or something – I don’t quite understand) and an enormous set of jump leads, and I was able to drive home. Pat was waiting to help me unpack the shopping, having been tipped off by Katy by phone that all was well.
So, although it was dark and raining by the time I got back and things hadn’t at all gone according to plan that day, I was left feeling totally blessed, supported and loved by beautiful caring people – whether strangers or family.
I actually kind of enjoyed the whole adventure, and am reminded that if we meet ‘adversity’ with that spirit of love and acceptance, we can have fun and encounter much goodwill and human kindness along the way.
As I have just been explaining in my new book, Diving for Pearls, I nearly always find the silver lining in any clouds that come my way these days. I put this down to the clarity and positivity that my experience of meditation brings into my heart, mind and soul. The awareness – or mindfulness as it is often called – generated by meditation gives you the opportunity to respond creatively to things that happen to you and draw good fortune to you. This means that you can truly be master of your own universe and encourage things to turn out for the best.
If you are thinking about learning to meditate or having some support with an existing practice, I have a wonderful homestudy online meditation course available which results in a qualification as an accredited Thrivecraft Meditation Practitioner.
This easy-going four week course gives you tips and support as well as a thorough introduction to four fantastic meditation techniques that foster mindfulness, positivity, manifestation power and inner wisdom. Simply watch the videos, listen to the audios and try out the guidelines I am laying out for you.
As a special encouragement to help you establish your new meditation rhythm early in the new year, I have decided to offer this course at 25% off until the 31st January 2015.
To claim your 25% discount, click on ‘enter promotional code’ on the Eventbrite booking page, and enter the code newyearoffer – this will reduce the quoted course price by 25%.
So what are you waiting for? Click right here to find out more and have a sparkling start to 2015.
Happy New Year!
With Maggie Kay
Online home study course – 4 wk
Thorough, enjoyable, relaxed and friendly
instruction and practice in meditation
Thrivecraft Practitioner Certificate
Principles * Technique * Preparation * Practice
Suitable for experienced and new meditators alike
Four meditation techniques taught and guided
Talks on related topics
Home practice instruction
Participant experiences, comments and Q&As
Two hours of video per week/ meditation (approx)
Links to bonus videos
Written materials (e-documents)
Meditation Practices Covered:
Mindfulness of Breathing
Development of Loving Kindness
Ah / Om Manifestation
Ask Your Inner Wisdom
Week 1. Mindfulness
What is meditation, introduction to practitioner course, posture for meditation, what is mindfulness, mindfulness of breathing meditation explained, guided mindfulness of breathing practice.
Week 2. Loving Kindness
Q&A on mindfulness, higher consciousness with meditation, loving kindness meditation explained, guided loving kindness practice.
Week 3. Manifestation
Q&A on loving kindness, hinderances to meditation, antidotes to hinderances, principles of manifestation, Ah/Om manifestation meditation explained, guided Ah/Om manifestation practice.
Week 4. Inner Wisdom
Q&A on Ah/Om manifestation, what is inner wisdom, Ask Your Inner Wisdom meditation explained, guided Ask Your Inner Wisdom practice, where to go from here.
The Thrivecraft Practitioner Certificate is a prerequisite
for the Thrivecraft Meditation Teacher Certificate
Thrivecraft is an Approved Training Provider
Accredited by the IICT
For more information and to book the
home study online audio/video course
click orange button below:
to claim your 25% discount
enter the promotional code newyearoffer
In this video extract from meditation practitioner course, below, Maggie Kay describes the benefits of meditation.
I woke up the other morning dreaming that a busy, uncommunicative parking attendant gave me a £416 fine (very specifically, £416!). In protest, I went marching through endless council offices, speaking to person after person, explaining that there had been a mistake – I’d only been there for a moment and was away buying my ticket and hadn’t done anything wrong! But no-one was listening. They just kept repeating their silly rules and insisting that I’d better pay £416 or they’d double the fine. It was so unfair and so frustrating!
Now, its said that all the characters in your dreams represent an aspect of yourself. Hmmn – so I have an inner officious, busy, uncommunicative, petty minded beauracrat, do I?… Oh yes! I recognise her well!
Years ago, when I was part of a Buddhist right livelihood team running an ethical gift shop (a job I loved, but that’s another story) I found my inner officious, busy, uncommunicative, petty minded beauracrat alright. I called her Helga. She was a big, loud, tank-like, German bossy boots who liked everything exactly her own way and for no one to get in it. (Excuse the national type-casting. I do actually relish characteristically German directness and two of my very best friends are German.)
Helga would march around her territory – the throws and cushion department – making sure not a fold was out of place. God forbid someone would talk to her, or worse still, ask her to do something else whilst her mind was on the task! Nowadays, Helga is only usually in evidence at Christmas time when I’m cooking for my guests . “Can I help with ….” “NO!” Helga barks before my poor sister-in-law can finish her sentence. “I’m better on my own!”
Bless her, my mum is similarly self-determining. Her kitchen is her domain and its best to stay clear whilst she’s busy preparing a meal. Like my mum, I love to express my love by providing meals for friends and family and want the kitchen to be all mine as I’m doing so. Also like my mum, I generally think I know best and want to do things MY way, even if it means exhausting myself because I’m incapable of delegating. You can see how this connects with ‘over-giving’ and it not occurring to me to say no, traits I also share with my remarkably generous and extremely dynamic mother.
Love Your Inner Parking Attendant
So the moral of this tale is that it pays to love your inner parking attendant, or any other het-up inner character who pipes up and misbehaves when you are under duress. Making friends with them (or even giving them a pet name like Helga) is the best way to make sure that you remain in overall command of how you behave, not them. If these guys remain unrecognised and un-named they have a habit of taking over automatically and wreaking havoc with your life.
The tricky time is when you are not even aware that we have a Helga or whoever in operation. Some unconscious part of you has been activated by a situation and off it goes pontificating or whining or bashing other people and your bigger self is powerless to do anything about it. It’s like you are possessed. Eventually, rant over, you come around to yourself again and wonder what happened. But by then it’s too late…
However, spotting your particular tendency to flip out (and the situations that trigger them) is really helpful. Even better, giving this aspect of your personality a pet name allows you to have a humourous, affectionate relationship with it. You can then give this protesting character some recognition, validation and attention without letting it take over inappropriately. It’s exactly like handling a naughty child.
And so I’ve also come to understand the good that Helga stands for. She has very high standards and is prepared to work hard to achieve excellence. Actually, she is quite talented and makes an exceptionally good job of things. She is proactive and strong and determined. (Part of my previous Buddhist name, Srimati, reflects this positive aspect. Mati can mean determination or strong mindedness).
The down side of Helga is that she is superior and up herself. She doesn’t rate anyone else or trust that they can do anything useful to help. Superiority is, in fact, a state of defensive fear – you compare yourself with others and set yourself apart in a misguided attempt to protect yourself. You don’t like what you think you see in someone else (some form of weakness or vulnerability) and don’t want to have anything to do with it because you can’t admit to your own weaknesses. However, in cutting yourself off from others (and any experience of vulnerability) you also sever your connection with your true nature which is total and absolute BLISS.
To allow yourself to be connected and intimate with others means allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable. It means admitting that you suffer sometimes, that you are fallible, mortal and fragile. It means being HONEST about your human experience and condition – that failure, loss, and pain are an intrinsic part of being alive.
Oh , Jeez, if we could only just surrender to our true feelings and honour the fragility and impermanence of all things, then we would experience incredible tenderness and joy – that we are utterly linked with one another, that there is indescribable, breath-taking beauty in every moment, that we can totally let go and float on an infinite sea of divine care.
Relaxing into the Fragile Mess
In the modern, developed world we live in a culture where fragility, unpleasantness, suffering, illness, pain and death are kept as far out of consciousness as possible. We create great armies of thought-police and institutions and industries to uphold our collective denial. We work and spend ourselves senseless and never pause long enough to breathe properly, never mind smell the coffee! And then when we get to the top of our ambition mountain – the successful husband and kids, the million dollars in our bank account, the huge house overlooking the sea – we wonder why life feels hollow, that we are not truly happy.
Have you ever wondered why ordinary people in poor parts of the undeveloped world seem so happy? Have you noticed the sparkle in their eyes, the bright colours that they wear, the connection they have with one another despite being surrounded by abject suffering? Well, I don’t know for sure, but it’s my guess that these simple people are living in a way which actually allows them to stay in touch with their true humanity in a way that eludes us in the developed world. And I wonder if the key to that humanity is to allow our natural experience of vulnerability and suffering to be a full part of our experience without fear.
Poor old Helga! What a lot she’s missing out on. If she could only realise that it’s okay to get it ‘wrong’, that the world won’t fall apart if a cushion is out of place or a Christmas dinner is late. If only she could relax and laugh and enjoy the great, chaotic play of people and events around her, muddling along, making mistakes, supporting each other, getting there somehow. She might notice that her shoulders are aching or that she’s really hungry, but there would be something so sweet about admitting that she, too, is a delicate human being. She would feel at home in this great fragile mess of perfect imperfection and finally realise that the point of life is not to strive to keep it all in order, but to let go and enjoy it just as it is.