Standing tall in storms of emotion

colossusWhen you are in your self-confidence, if you don’t get the job it’s their loss. You accept the adventure and you feel all the more powerful because of it.

When you are disconnected from your self-confidence, it’s a different story. You feel like a loser. You feel not good enough. You feel pessimistic. They become the “bad guys”.

But the prospective employers have done nothing different – their behaviour was the same in both examples. It’s all you. It’s all about whether you are standing tall or collapsing. It’s all about what channel you are tuned to. And that’s all that’s ever going on. 

It’s like there’s two mirror images happening: one in which you are lost at sea, clinging to a mast, bedraggled and feeling finished – and the other you are standing tall and proud, like the Colossus, like God’s gift, a light unto the world, on top of a podium.

Very different perspectives – but both of these images are opposite sides of the same coin.

A champion in training

If you were to see a champion athlete moments after training you may see a wreck, rather than a hero. This is him working out. This is the making of the man. This is the creation of mastery. After he’d shifted his focus and taken time to relax, you’d see championship form again. Not in spite of but because of this training.

If you’ve had one of these dramatic collapses of your self-worth, it’s actually a good thing. You’ve been shown where you’ve got a weak muscle which needs attention, or it will only come up again. And so now it’s time to train, to prevent it being triggered again.

Ships in the harbour are safe, yes, but…

You are living life. And yes, there will be waves (storms of overthinking) and you may go under once in a while and that’s not a bad thing and there’s nothing wrong with clinging to the mast once in a while. In fact if you aren’t clinging to the mast sometimes, perhaps you’re not playing big enough; perhaps you’re still in your comfort zone? Perhaps you’re not pushing up the weights at the gym?

I remember doing a workshop and I asked the crowd “Who in the room is incredibly confident?” Just four people put their hands up and it was clear they were telling the truth; they seemed to have solid confidence. Then I asked those same few people “Who of you gets really, really insecure sometimes?” And all four hands stayed up – and each person seemed surprised that the others had their hand up.

This is what I know: I have met many powerhouses in terms of how they are living life. And I’ve never met a single person ever who doesn’t fit into this category of having both aspects within them – both the confident hero and the frightened child. It’s like trying to find a successful body builder who has never felt serious tension in his muscles. You won’t find one, ever. The opposite “shadow” feeling is what makes the other. The mast in stormy seas is the making of the Colossus.

The thought ambush

We all know that moment when the waves of fear or doubt threaten to take us under. Something triggers us and then the waves of thoughts seem to pounce on us and our immediate knee-jerk response is to go to war with them or run away. This approach rarely works, instead we get deeper into the storm of mind chatter.

In army manoeuvres, it’s interesting how you are taught to face and advance the ambush rather than run. Not fight it, but continue forward as if it’s not even there.

Advancing doesn’t mean fighting or resisting. It is more like ignoring, fully focused on the power that walks with you; the power of Reality; of your Real Self. It’s ignoring, but walking forward.

Walking forward with steadfastness

When you find yourself being taken over by these irritating (to say the least) thought forms, you want to firstly welcome them and secondly keep on going forward.

They are clouds. You are the Sun. They are nothing. You are solid. You have the power of Life walking through you and as you.

Running away gives fear thoughts power. Many people do this, they try to ignore something meaning “running away from it” meaning pushing against. This kind of “trying to ignore” is the opposite of ignoring – it’s denial – and brings on obsessing about the subject.

Walking forward anyway is authentic ignoring. Advancing means you don’t believe in the power of the thoughts. Retreating means you do. As we retreat, the fear gets more, not less. Retreating is resistance, in this context.

Stumbling… and then getting up again

However, we all need practice to master anything. That’s why the army have training sessions rather than going straight off to the front line. Life provides the training. And every time you fall, you become more focused, more resolute for the next time.

Stand tall and endure

This takes effort. Of course it does. Just like in a real-life ambush scenario, it would be “easier’ just to collapse and be taken by the enemy. But the price you’d pay would be massive; this tiny bit of effort is incredibly worthwhile and will save you the time having to get back on track again.

Standing tall initially takes more effort. But do it. Stand in your power. Hold on tight to the mast as the ship cuts through the waves of overthinking. Meditate. Stand tall like the Colossus, at first you may be standing tall and not feeling it – but soon enough the thrust of your Real Self will join you and you will be back on track, the wind will get behind your sales, the waves will leave you alone and you will be smiling again, left even better than before thanks to this “workout”.

New You- New Focus

IMG_8082In the beginnings of a new year, symbolically and historically, it’s a time many people make an intention to change. And yet every day is a new beginning, every moment. And so whenever you are reading this: Now is the time for change.

Change requires a certain kind of effort

When you are beginning a new habit, you may experience strong resistance to doing it. And that’s normal, as your old habits start trying to pull you back. In many ways, starting is the hardest part. Like a shuttle breaking out of the Earth’s atmosphere, a huge thrust is needed at the beginning to ‘break through’ into the new. Then it becomes easier, as you find the rhythm of the new habit.

Many people quit at this point and go back to their old ways. That’s why it’s notorious that the gyms are packed full in January and empty in February. Sure, people intended to continue but that intention wasn’t enough. Effort is needed in the beginning stages, particularly.

When as babies we learn to walk, we stumble and then we get back up stronger. So there’s nothing wrong with a few false starts. However, just as starting to dig a mineshaft for gold- and then stopping and starting somewhere else five minutes later- will take forever to get to the gold, we want to allow ourselves our humanity and yet also be consistent. With commitment, or discipline, the path is much shorter than we will have thought. Commitment or discipline is the secret.

No going back

The Vikings burned their boats at the shore of a new land they were about to conquer. There was no going back to their old ways. And this is how we want to be with our intentions or resolutions. No excuses, 100%, All or nothing. Wishful thinking will get you nowhere- follow through will get you what you want, and faster than you think.

Focus

The teacher Seth said that “you get what you concentrate on, there is no other rule”.

What Seth is saying here: focus: requires a disciplined mind. To do this requires a lot of practice. Because when most people first hear this line in all its many forms, they get panicky. Reading positive thinking books isn’t enough. To an undisciplined mind, this wisdom can become counterproductive; the moment most people hear it they automatically start fighting their fears until they get lost in a fearful cloud of overthinking, desperately trying to focus on what they want whilst inadvertently becoming obsessed about what they don’t want:

I remember someone telling me that she bought a popular ‘Law of Attraction’ DVD for a friend who was depressed. After a few weeks, she asked how her friend was doing with it. The friend answered, sarcastically, “Well before you bought me the film I was depressed. Now I’m depressed and frightened.” This person was lost in depression- and now was being told that these depressing thoughts were going to ‘do bad things’. Or that’s how she understood it.

And so, a disciplined and clear mind is essential before we learn to focus. Discipline and commitment again- the secret to working with the Law of Attraction as I said.

Once you use discipline to clear your mind, you drop into your Real Self that automatically moves into focus on what you want. By using your effort in this way, to break through into your Real Self perspective, focus becomes effortless.

So what to do?

Firstly, we want to meditate.

Then, we want to practice dwelling, again and again, on all the good in our lives.

And

Third step: Now you can focus and concentrate on what you want- this becomes an effortless and natural thing to do.

Good luck with your changes: Keep on going- and come along to one of my events to learn more.

Feel like you’re missing out?

lightsThe grass is not greener: Why you’re not missing out in life

There’s this idea that we’re always “missing out” in life. That we always want to be somewhere else with someone else or even be someone else. I know I was like that- I ruined countless moments of a perfectly good life by wishing things could be different, totally oblivious to the fact that my life was more than good enough already, if only I’d taken the time to notice.

This is especially true nowadays – where certain social media sites offer us ways of trying to convince the world that we are good enough by posting well-lit and well-angled photos of us looking happy and attractive in the hope that everyone will see us as “perfect”. It can be competitive-  and it contributes more to stress than happiness.

Even when you are into the Law of Attraction or modern-day spirituality, you can continue this quest to be better, always looking for something else to “manifest” so that you can be happy one day. But that day never comes. If you can’t find happiness from right where you are, why do you think you will be able to do it in the future?

I learnt this in my own life:

In my early twenties when I worked in television, I freelanced on a particular job that got me into all the “in” events in London. Private celebrity parties with expensive champagne, VIP areas and private penthouses. I worked in high profile areas of news, politics and entertainment, mixing with a lot of well-known people. Was it good? Not really, because I wasn’t a happy person. I was “living the dream” but nothing had changed except I had even more things to worry about, including picking up some new addictions. Socialising in places where everyone was craving pleasure on the outside was not a pleasant place to be and even in my brief period in this lifestyle, I found myself seeking solace in drugs and alcohol. I had “manifested” my ideal life- except it wasn’t my ideal life. And I never met anyone whose ideal life it actually was.

I would see them across the pages of the tabloids. Their lives would look amazing, exciting, fantastic. They would look happy in the snapshots. It all looked so aspirational and what dreams are made of. Except I had been out on these nights and they were nothing like the newspapers had hyped them up to be. The club scene I found was repetitive and more about war than love; more about people winning and using other people-  though I continued going along, why? Because it was what everyone was doing.

I would say most of the celebrities I met who lived this kind of partying lifestyle were miserable, neurotic, stressed out and desperate to find connection. I became like that myself. And many of them used addiction to try to fill the gap and find inner peace. Of course that didn’t work. I was fortunate due to past experiences of addiction to not get too deep into it, but I saw a lot of people totally lost to it all.

I have nothing against anything people choose to do- and we find our own path, at the perfect time for us. I am certainly not trying to suggest there are ‘wrong’ choices, but even working within the media it was too easy to fall under the media’s illusions that your life is not enough and all the fun is happening elsewhere to everyone else. It’s depressing to be reading some of these stories, feeling not good enough. It’s also depressing when you “get there” and realise there’s nothing there either. It was a trick all along, like the Wizard of Oz.

What you want is right here

What everyone really wants is to feel connected; to feel great about themselves and life. That is why everyone has goals, in the hope that the new car or house or achievements will bring them this feeling. There are so many things that promise to give us that – be it drugs, celebrity, another job or a change of relationships. But it is just illusion; like tin foil to our magpie-like lower mind. Once you get it you realise it’s not enough. It’s never enough. Without a happy and clear minded mindset all the stuff in the world will not fill the void.

What you want is as likely to happen now as ever: It’s a shift in perception.What you want; how you want to feel, is playing on another channel and all the waiting in the world will not flick the channel. A shift of focus is what changes the channel.

Happiness is about giving not getting

Looking for something outside of yourself to give you happiness isn’t the way to get connected; it’s never enough. There is nothing wrong with this quest- and sometimes we have to make this detour to realise for ourselves the truth of life- perhaps it’s even a necessary research period for many of us. But ultimately we all realise that the outer world cannot satisfy us; it is in the appreciating the life we have, appreciating the people already in our lives and ourselves; giving to others and loving others that’s the key to happiness and the answer everyone’s looking for. Happiness is about what you are giving out rather than what’s coming back to you. And no matter where we are or what’s going on in our lives right now- we are in the perfect place to do this right here and now. There is no better place to be.

Living your best life: If not now, when?

dollarsPersonal development for so many people can be a constant “on their way” to getting a better life. The time ticks on. “Still no change but don’t worry- it’s coming…”

Let’s be honest- most of us have been here. I know I have. Endlessly studying a technique or theory which would help me be good enough next year- or at least in a few months. The problem with this approach is it doesn’t work and here’s why: you don’t enjoy your life right now (which is where life is always at)- and you also don’t get what you want. Tom Cruise was a Hollywood actor before he was a Hollywood actor; his early acting teacher explains he behaved like a star way before he was one. And that is the secret- be it visualising, doing something you enjoy, whatever- you want to find a way to enjoy your life now; be your best self now. Because, as they say, tomorrow never comes.

Being your best self now is not to get you anything- it’s because it’s natural; it’s the real you. Who cares what it will get you (when what everyone wants is to feel great now). But it will get you more, even though you won’t need more.

If you are looking at a rich lifestyle from the outside; daydreaming about it from afar- you’re not feeling rich, you’re a fan of the rich. You’re playing “let’s pretend” and it’s fancy dress. You are beautiful now… or you’re not. There’s no in-between. “On your way” is a myth. What makes you think the shift into the new belief is going to happen tomorrow?

Your ideal life is Now

The life you think you want- the dream partner, dream house, dream job- is just a feeling away. I’m not talking about experiencing it in solid form, but realising it now in feeling.

Going to sleep in your bed at night could just as easily be in your dream house in Kensington as where you currently are (it’s dark and a bed is a bed). You don’t want to imagine yourself in bed- you want to feel yourself in your dream life Now. You could also feel your partner next to you, Now.

In this way, you can get the feeling of it happening- and thus get full satisfaction right now. This is true visualisation.

Creating your best life is mostly about relaxing into your present moment- I repeat this again and again and its too simple for most people who think it must be something more complicated. You can relax now into the Reality of your ideal life- or struggle. It’s your choice. But to be fair, it doesn’t always feel like a choice, especially when you’ve got some thought habits going on.

Mind the gap

True visualisation has no gap between “where I am and where I want to be”. The rich get richer- why is that? Because they are already rich. And being rich is a feeling; it’s a state of mind.

When you feel good, drop into your centre where your dream life is happening- now. In this space there is no gap and no thought- just an absolute knowing.

You are amazing now- just as you are. You are already that which you want to be. It’s less about “adding on” or “bettering yourself” to make you more amazing –  and more about dropping the layers of garbage which cover your greatness- and dropping into the mindset which exists now, where you know how amazing you are and are being that, Now. What are you waiting for?

For more information see the relaxation/visualisation audio download Envision: Relax into your Ideal Life.

Feeling bored?

boredBoredom is an unpleasant feeling. It isn’t a lack of thoughts – it is simply a listening to and believing an inner voice that plays relentlessly and on-repeat throwing out thoughts like “I’m bored and I can’t think of anything interesting to do” and other mind chatter like “what’s wrong with me – I need to better myself” and on and on it goes giving you the feeling of loneliness and emptiness.

Boredom has nothing to do with what’s going on or what’s not going on. I remember being in the middle of Las Vegas feeling bored (with good company, a sports car and dining at the best hotel on the strip – and having just won a small fortune at one of the casinos). Back then my bored mindset was so stubborn that all the bright lights, fireworks and special effects in the world couldn’t shake me out of my apathy. In the opposite situation, I have felt excited and totally fulfilled in a moment where it may look like not much is going on out there. It’s all about our perception; it’s about our state of mind; what’s going inside of us. Being bored is being temporarily trapped on the wrong wavelength; a wavelength which plays bored and boring thoughts of the past and future.

The solution? Drop out of this wavelength into the wavelength of ‘fulfilment’; which will play you new thoughts of excitement – and new ideas of interesting things to do.

How to drop into the Real You

Meditation is a very good way to “change your channel” – and physical exercise (such as a good workout at the gym) may be even better.

Your bored inner voice will probably say that both of these ideas are – surprise, surprise – “boring” – but the key is to go ahead and do it anyway. Your very problem is this bored mindset you are in – and so you can’t expect it to support you in your changes. You have to change anyway.

Another practical tip

Rather than fighting your boredom – try to embrace it by writing down good things about being bored. For example, “being bored means I’ve got no big problems”. You will find more. As you accept where you are, you can move into better feelings.

Getting busy and setting a daily schedule will also give you something to focus on, and this is particularly helpful if you are self-employed or have a lot of spare time on your hands.

Michael teaches practical techniques which help move from boredom to inspiration- please see the events page.

Demystifying Meditation (OM magazine)

meditation

Like many aspects of spirituality, meditation is something that has become overly-complicated. Spiritual teacher Michael James explains his way of approaching this ancient practice.

Meditation and the Law of Attraction

Meditation is seen as a foundational practice by most authentic spiritual paths, including yoga. When building a new house, you want foundations you can trust. Whatever your particular way of life, meditation will ensure you have a solid grounding by connecting you to wisdom that’s stable and reliable.

The practice of meditation means quieting our minds. We do this by distracting ourselves: focusing on our breathing, a mantra or a consistent sound like gentle music or the sound of a fan. In this, we allow ourselves to tune ourselves to hear our “real voice” – often described as our intuition, our higher self – or even the voice of God.

Meditation means stepping back; it is the opposite of the “making it happen” that we hear so much about in motivational lectures. When a problem arises, there’s a tendency to dig in and push ahead, trying to think our way out of the problem. Meditation allows us to zoom out and be shown the bigger picture. It elevates us to a higher perspective where solutions can come into view. Meditation is like putting the car in neutral or waiting for the seas to calm before setting sail. It is the ideal way to get each day off to a good start.

In this letting go there is true power although this, to the outside world, may seem like a lack of power. The ego personality – that lower level chatter that tends not to wish ourselves and others well – sees meditation as weak, boring or a waste of time. Like most people, I used to see meditation this way. I think this is one reason why I avoided it for so long. It seemed a waste of time to “just sit there”.

The benefits of meditation

By living life, we cannot help but be exposed to problems. Meditation is a way to cleanse ourselves of these problems, and move through them, allowing solutions to come into focus. The physical practice of yoga was always intended as the way to prepare the body for meditation: and so the meditation at the end was the main event rather than merely a chance to get a break from strenuous exercise. And science is now starting to catch up and recognise the huge physiological benefits and decreasing of stress levels it provides.

Light bulb inventor Thomas Edison claimed he got his inspiration in the silence. And many leading business figures and orators throughout the ages have claimed their best ideas came from listening in the silence.

You’ll feel rejuvenated and refreshed, with some meditation teachers suggesting that a short meditation is worth hours of sleep. I see it like a rebooting of the computer.

After a busy day at work, meditation brings you back, calming an overactive mind and body whilst also allowing you to reap the benefits of your day full of activities, questions and thoughts. In the stillness, you’ll discover answers to problems. For me, meditation is where I access my greatest ideas and life decisions. And, when I follow this guidance, it always works out in ways I myself could not have thought my way to. Einstein said: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” You can’t think your way out of a problem. And so, the way out is firstly, distraction. And meditation is a great way to distract into the fullness of who you are.

Although it has cumulative benefits, meaning it improves our life experience over time, it is also about enjoying the moment rather than struggling through it for a future benefit. We don’t really choose our thoughts, we choose our focus, which tunes us in to a certain radio frequency which is playing thoughts in this mood range. For example, if we relax into feeling good, we will begin to naturally think good-feeling thoughts, seeing the best in others, getting new ideas. We won’t have to try to do this – we will just do it. Meditation turns the dial and tunes us to a higher frequency.

Resistance

There is a brilliant and accurate scene in the film Eat, Pray, Love where the character played by Julia Roberts attempts to meditate. She’s wrestling with her thoughts, noticing other people who seem to be perfectly meditating and finally, after one minute, gives up. The thing with meditation is that we don’t always want to do it; our logical ego mind tells us things like “we don’t need it”, “it’s a waste of time”, “it’s boring”, or “what good will just sitting there do anyway?” But meditation is the best tool I know to take us into a new wavelength. The two biggest problems I hear from people are: they can’t quieten their mind, or they simply won’t do it. Just as being self-employed requires self-discipline to schedule the day and commit to it, so it is with meditation. It needs to be prioritised. Without doubt, the people I have seen have most transformation with meditation are those who commit to a daily practice.

Like starting any unfamiliar skill, such as driving a car, meditation requires practice. I thought meditation seemed almost impossible, at first. I would see others closing their eyes, stilling their minds and wondered why my mind was all over the place. And then, one day, after setting aside 30 minutes every morning for several months, I “got it” and experienced what all the books and spiritual teachings were talking about. There’s no set time – some people may really enjoy meditation from the first attempt – we are all different and have different thought habits going on.

How to meditate

Go into a room where you can be undisturbed. Put away any distractions. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take in a deep breath and fully exhale. Focus on something constant like your breath, a candle flame, or gentle sounds. Bring your attention to the rhythm of your breathing (or the music). At first, your mind may be restless but stay with it. You may want to stop, but continue. You may want to set a timer for 10 minutes initially, working up to 15 minutes, half an hour or longer if guided.