Friday 26 February 2010

Bare Back

Meet Lise. She's an Icelandic pony - built for the harsh weather. She's also rather lovely, and she's my first real introduction to horses.

For most of my 50 years, I never really understood the attraction. Why would you want to climb on some poor creatures back and kick it. But, like a lot of other things, my cynical aversion to this thing I'd never tried disappeared - when I tried it.

A lot of my writing is about learning to let go of beliefs - those things we know to be true - without good evidence. Usually, we inherited those beliefs from childhood - absorbing them by osmosis form parents or from bitter experience in the twisted plaground-world which children, depressingly, must inhabit in their most formative years. When we let go of our beliefs, we become free to see the world clearly, un-encumbered by preconceptions and fears.

So - back to Lise. Being around Lise is oddly spiritual. She is clearly "in there" - she's a conscious being - but she's different. She's calm for one thing. As you move around her space she watches you carefully, and being watched by her feels special. She's not thinking in human terms; she's not making judgements. She's patient. She seems somehow eternal.

When I first rode her (with a saddle), I felt dreadful - like I had no business being on this creature's back, but she didn't mind a bit, and once I got used to the fact that this vehicle was like no other, I settled down.

Yesterday, I rode her bare back. You might think that's a quiet, tranquil experience, but not the first time! She's warm through my jeans. I can feel the bones of her spine moving left and right, forwards and back. I have to role with her body, but not too much because - with no stirrups and no saddle - there's very little to stop you falling off sideways.

Initially I found my brain was whirring away wondering what was right and wrong, what should and should not have been. I was tense all through my legs to the point where I was exhausted within three minutes. But after a while, I learned what was necessary and what wasn't. You can relax below the knees, so I did.  You're more stable if you push your backside out and allow your pelvis to rock with the horse's back, so I did. You learn that - what seem to be alarming indications of imminent removal from office  are nothing to worry about - just normal excursions form the vertical which stop all on their own.

When the busy brain receeds you can begin to appreciate the experience more; to place yourself in context.
I'm riding an animal which I can feel under me. They are carrying me through countryside, out in the weather. I'm connected with them - aware of every detail of their walking; every footfall. Breathing. There's something about their obedience and a humility which that brings, too.
Well, I'm clearly droning on without clarity or purpose here, so I guess I'll stop. But I wanted to try to get something of this experience on paper. If you're horsey, you'll know what I'm trying to say. If you're not - try it!

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Cold, Old, Underwear & Warm Porridge

Firstly, that ain't me, right? That looks to me like a WWII haircut, and a WWII hut. Odd actually, as I've just got back from Bletchley Park, (the world war two place where they cracked the Enigma device) and, anticipating long periods of being outside in the cold, and being elligible for Saga holidays these days, I've invested in a full set of (oh, the shame) Long Johns - as illustrated above - which I wore.

Anyway - there's an odd downside to wearing Long Johns which I discovered today. They're great outside in the cold. Snug and toastie. But inside, after a while, you feel like you've filled your trousers with warm porridge. Not terminal, I assume, but I felt it was important to share that with you ... Now then, have a nice afternoon :o)

Thursday 11 February 2010

Depression update

Well, my previous post to the depression forum went down like a vile smelling lead balloon.
So here's the response I posted, which may be of use to those reading here, who also didn't like it.

My post was written very carefully to find the balance between sympathy and truth. It wasn't intended to offend, and - reading it again - I don't thing there is offence in it, except in so far as it does not support your current world view.

It would be the easiest thing in the world to pour sympathy all over you, and you would feel better for it, but you'd still be carrying around the pathology which put you where you are. So - do you want a lifetime of pathology and sympathy - or do you want to make changes?

As a personal development consultant, I walk this tight rope daily. Do I make my client feel better in the short term and keep taking the money - or do I tell them truths which are difficult to hear, allowing him to adjust his world-view and move on in life with a more accurate one, which he can use to accurately interpret meaning from his experiences, and to reach for happiness.

The "pills" in my post can be bitter, but they are no less therapeutic for that. As long as you perpetuate a view of yourself as helpless victim, and view the world out there as owing you happiness, then you will not make progress, because - no matter how much you want it to be true - it just isn't true.

There is a story of a wild monkey who wanders into an encampment and he sees a banana in a cage. He reaches in to grab it, but can't get it out through the bars. Unwilling to let go of the potential meal, he stays there holding the banana and he starves to death there.

If you want to move on, you have to let go.

This is really hard stuff, because our ego is invested. To let go means to admit imperfection, to admit we had some things wrong. And until we can find the more correct versions, we're somewhat adrift; we lose a part o ourselves.

It's also hard because it means letting go of something we loved - the delicious passive dependency of our childhoods.

Of course, if there are brain chemistry reasons involved, then medication may be the appropriate course of action, but there is growing anxiety about anti-depressants, and also a body of professionals (Dorothy Rowe being my favourite) who say that depression is not a mental illness anyway. In that connection, there's an audacious phrase which springs to mind - it's not one of mine, but there's some interesting thinking in it. It's this:

You don't HAVE depression, you DO depression.

I can well understand how that might offend many depressives. Don't shoot the messenger.

I don't think this means to imply that you prefer to be utterly miserable, so you make sure you stay that way. But it DOES mean that there is a wilful component to depression driven by the conflict between your inner beliefs and your external reality. This is very hard stuff to work with, and anyone who is depressed has my respect and my sympathy. It is a sad place to be and it's hard to get out. Sometimes lives go by in that place. I don't dismiss it at all. Perhaps if you read what I said again in that context you might find something of use in it.

Perhaps not.

Tuesday 2 February 2010

This One's for Life Coaches

If you have information products you'd like to sell, then I can sell them for you in my online shop. To explore that further, please contact me.

If you'd also like to put your information products on Amazon for vast global reach, then usually - you'd need an ISBN - a lengthy expensive process. However, I now have an Amazon Pro account which means I can list products which do NOT have ISBNS ASINs or any other product code. That's CDs, books, and so on.

If you would like to work with me in listing your product in my product area on Amazon, then please contact me to explore options.

Monday 1 February 2010



I contribute to an online forum on depression, and I thought this post might interest some:

Hello D,

As children we are rewarded for good behaviour and punished for bad behaviour, as part of the "civilizing" process.

As a result, most of us grow up with the notion that good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. But outside of the context of childhood upbringing, this simply isn't true. Wonderful people die young of horrible illnesses, and nasty people become rich and live long, powerful lives.

The reason I mention that you ask: "Why is my life so awful?". I guess you probably think "... because I don't deserve it - I've been a good person". I see this in almost every client I work with.

But the cold hard reality is rather different. Your life is so awful for two reasons:

1. Pure simple "wicked" chance
2. The things you do

That may seem unkind D, but it isn't. It is simply The Truth, and with it comes the insight we all need to make our lives better; we have to MAKE them better. Easier said than done, of course, when you're so low, but this is the path you have to tread to have a better life:

* If you have no friends, then make some. This is complicated because you probably have self-esteem issues which make it difficult for you to approach strangers and make friends, and you may also exhibit behaviours which are puzzling to others who might approach you.

* I am sure your crisis was terrible. It will have happened due to (1) or (2) above. Analysing that may help you to move forward in your life. Many dreadful experiences teach us things we would not have otherwise been able to reach with our minds; perhaps there are some gains in there somewhere.

* There's nothing wrong with attention-seeking. We are all of us animals whose fundamental structure we cannot change; part of that structure is to crave attention. Accept that fact, go out and attract attention, and then enjoy it.

* But also recognise that attention will not fix the facts of your life. If you want to be loved, then you must DO THE STUFF which will make that happen; socialising, being nice, approachable, well-groomed, and so on. If you want to be cared for, be caring, and enlarge your social circle.

You ask "is that too much to ask for?"- and - if by that you mean "is it unreasonable for the world to deliver that to me while I wait for it?" then the answer is most definitely YES - THAT IS TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR. Don't shoot the messenger, D. I am not being unkind, and I'm not at all unsympathetic to your situation. I'm just telling you truths about the way the world is.
Because wish as much as you like - that IS the way the world is, and you can live in that world happily and successfully, or unhappily and resentfully.

Maybe the reason you hate yourself in the mirror, is because a part of you already knows this.

I would suggest the way forward for you might be this:

a. Hate me for a while because I've told you some difficult truths
b. Over time, recognise those truths as being real in the world you live in
c. Try - with all the support you can muster - to make tiny steps forward to DO STUFF which will move your life towards where you want it to be.
d. Use your intellect to watch your emotional thinking - reject those messages which are not literally true
e. Enjoy chocolate :o)

Good luck D.

My Warmest Wishes,