Humanity Rising: Leveraging the pandemic into an opportunity for human renewal

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It is funny writing the words ‘Humanity Rising’. As I explain in a previous blog where I discuss the Progressive International Movement, I had started plotting a campaign called Humanity Rising at the beginning of lockdown. It was in support of Noam Chomsky and the idea of a radical reconstruction of society with humane values.  It was a plan to draw together all the people who no longer wanted the present out-dated system and for us to share ideas on mass. The Monastery, Manchester the phenomenal charity I work for (that are also trying to draw humanity together) were also behind it, but it never happened. 

There was no need, The Progressive International Movement mobilised in support of Chomsky’s ideas, and they are on powerful and clear mission that champions good strong values and a humane agenda.  Then a Humanity Rising Solutions, global forum, also appeared (nothing to do with me) to ‘represent a movement of people and organisations coming together to counsel on how to leverage the crisis of the coronavirus pandemic into an opportunity for human renewal and increased resilience to future challenges.’  In times where the future is worrying, our leaders are even more worrying and things can look bleak, these progressive organisations are where we can divert our energy and are a tour de force of common good, magnificent hearts and values of integrity and kindness.  This is exactly what we need.

Humanity Rising launched their awe-inspiring global solutions summit in May 22, 2020. Due to the pandemic ‘everything has disrupted and everything has changed’ and they have speakers every day talking about transformation and to mobilise ideas. The scale of this movement is phenomenal and growing. Already it is an ‘international coalition of over 200 leaders and 100 partner organisations representing 10 million individuals’ and is an initiative of Ubiqulity University’.  Ubiquity university is a visionary global university that teaches and works on social impact.  You can do a MA or PhD on Wisdom there in amongst many over inspiring and important courses.

Humanity Rising’s global forum attracted an array of impressive speakers and teachers. For instance, the writer of the well-shared and well-respected article ‘The Coronation’, Charles Eisenstien.  The have also had well-revered Nassim Haramein the founder of the Resonance Science Foundation. Haramein’s impressive research on physics, maths, cosmology and quantum mechanics really is pushing all the necessary boundaries. They also have the truly wonderful, Dr Jane Goodall inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share and talking on how we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment from a local perspective. I recently noticed that David Lorimer from Paradigm Explorer is also talking.  As you see from another of my articles on the Scientific and Medical Network that this is another incredible progressive movement.  What is wonderful about Humanity Rising is it is attracting speaker from around the globe.  Today I listened to the wisdom from eco villages in Senegal and rousing talks on how we already have everything we need for change.  What is also wonderful is we listen and we cheer.  There are so many of us, so many good hearted people who want change and passionate people creating transformation projects around the globe.  Humanity Rising is about bringing everyone together.  We can indeed all join together and rise up and above the present out-dated systems.  We know they are out-dated and there are alternative and solutions but it is up to us.

Humanity Rising has blogs, video discussions and clear active solutions.  Their talks are incredibly inspiring and represent the sentiments of millions of changemakers worldwide. ‘Your future, your community’s future, your country’s future, the world’s future depends on it.”  The discussions are recorded and free to tune into. In September, they are assessing where the world is and will start a reiterative process where they will draw together all that has been discussed and no doubt publish their key findings.  These global conversations are essential as we move forward and create new solutions and visions.  Whilst Progressive International is in pursuit of a world of good values and is politically left, Humanity rising is opening up a new worldview and this is incredibly exciting and thinks outside of systems.  There are woman’s circles, meditations and talks embracing spirituality.  This is an interesting flavour in Humanity Rising and one that some may find a little off-putting.  However, these are essential discussions and as movements such as  Paradigm Explorer are moving towards a new worldview, we really are starting to see seismic changes in this direction.  I would whole-heartedly encourage you to check out Humanity Rising and be inspired by the wonderful array of passionate speakers.  This is very important work.

I am regularly listening and may well be speaking in the next few weeks so do also sign-up to Awespace and I can be your own personal roving reported, abridging and keeping you up to date.

The Scientific and Medical Network: The wisdom of spirituality and the thoughtfulness of philosophy

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I have known and followed the pioneering Scientific and Medical Network and their boundary-pushing journal (Paradigm Explorer) for some time. Their work is incredibly important and inspiring and definitely one to follow and connect with.  The Network was set up in 1973 by academics including the Vice-Chancellor of Surrey University to reconcile scientific models of reality with spiritual dimensions of life. 

What is meant by this, is that in academia we are within a paradigm called Scientific materialism which means that we only believe and accept that which we can see/measure (apply a scientific method to it).  Unfortunately, for those of us who believe that human beings are more than a machine , with a brain for a computer, this is a very limiting view.  This dominant paradigm has no time for what is often put into the spiritual realms and it is unaccepting of any unseen forces.   These paradigms and worldviews drive our education system, our institutions and set the rules for how we live.  It affects each and every one of us more than you can imagine.   It is important that the worldview/paradigm reflects our personal beliefs.  This is not the case for a huge numbers of us who feel a greater depth in human expression and the frustrations of this being stunted.

It was a relief to me ( having worked in academic psychology for so long) to find an incredibly intelligent, open-minded network that articulated exactly my frustrations in academia/with the present world-view.  When I was an academic working in psychology, I was always frustrated by psychology reducing people and experiences down to numbers.  The methods in scientific psychology never capture the brilliance and beauty in human expression.  I used to find it bizarre and was always disappointed by how cold and reductionist it was.  I would be enthralled by big questions, human expression and literature reviews and then come to the method section of a study reported and would be so often disappointed by the fact that everything was based on just a few participants and everything was often just dissected down to a disappointing conclusion.   

I even found this within my doctoral studies, where I deeply explored the nature of The Self.  I was peeling back the boundaries of the self  to discover if there is a stable ‘true’ self or whether this itself was a cultural construction.  I spent many years on this work and read pretty much everything published in academic psychology on this topic.  On finishing my doctorate, I trained as a yoga practitioner and I can honestly say, I finally found what I was looking for in literally a few months of reading some of the ancient yogic texts.  Whilst modern psychology considers we just have a mind and a body, yoga/vedic philosophy has a whole science of the unseen and invisible realms.  I found in the ancient text The Upanishads, a description of what they call the koshas,.  These are sheaths of the self of which there are five and a far far more expanded view of just the mind and the body.  This was such a relief to me as I had found what I was looking for.  I instantly had confirmation of the much more expanded view of the self that I was never going to find in Western psychology.

This is just one personal story of the frustrations of the limiting view of the current paradigm and I have many more of which I could probably fill a book.  No doubt  each of us have many more and I would be interested to hear of these.   For example, many of us who do yoga, tai-chi, have a spiritual practice, do bodywork, connect deeply with nature or animals,  or are poets, mystics, creators, and artists, all already know that the world and human expression is far beyond that what this paradigm accepts.  It is no wonder so many of us are frustrated and overwhelmed, or struggle to find places to explore meaning or purpose.

The Scientific and Medical Network are admirably challenging the assumptions of scientific materialism and they are dedicated to widening the understanding of what it is to be a human in our phenomenal world.  They have a truly wonderful vision   

The vision

  • We believe that a better, more intelligent and more heart-led world is possible – a world in which the wisdom of spirituality and the thoughtfulness of philosophy balance the power of science and technology.
  • We recognise that our world is still plagued by deep problems and enduring conflicts. Many of these are caused by dogmatic, superstitious or ill-informed worldviews. However, we believe that individuals and societies can transform themselves. The key is learning to integrate evidence-based science, born of rational philosophy, with the love and inner peace cultivated by spiritual practice. The Scientific and Medical Network is a community of professionals dedicated to this task.
  • It is our view that no single idea or solution has a monopoly on truth. Our events and publications therefore create spaces for the sharing of different ideas and experiences in a fellowship of deep listening, dialogue and mutual trust.
  • We invite you to join us in co-creating new paradigms to bring truth, beauty, health and well-being into harmony, and so help heal our fractured culture.

If you work in the more esoteric arts or you too feel that there is much more to your self and your world than is usually accepted, then it is important that we gather and support one another.  The Network are increasing rapidly in number.  They are the leading international forum for people engaged in the creation of a new worldview for the 21st century.  They also have phenomenal speakers such as Rupert Sheldrake who is an incredible human being, progressive and boundary dissolving.  If you have not heard him speak then do.

 At the Scientific medical network they have also been gathering signatures of academics who are one by one ‘coming out’ and saying ‘yes I believe in much more than I would say in public or I would publish’.  Shocking really, that these academics are publishing only a part of their full expression in journal articles and in public, yet it is these cold hard facts that we base our institutions and our children’s education on.  We need the whole of a person in all their wisdom, love, passion and pragmatism exploring our possibilities, not just the mechanical workings of their cognitive world.  We wonder why we are living only in part of what is possible for human-kind and much of the answers, lie there.

Elaine (CEO of The Monastery, Manchester) and I recently had a wonderful call with David Lorimer who heads up this network and we are hoping to create a local group for The Scientific and Medical Network her in Manchester at The Monastery.  A place where we can explore these important issues together and support each other on our journeys and in our work.  We really are calling for all of those people, whether in academia or not to ‘come out’ and step forward.  In our chat with David we were talking about how in the West coming out as spiritual is more difficult than coming out as gay in academia at the moment.  It is still banished to the closet, and anything with a whiff of spirituality is mocked and thrown out. 

This is a huge problem as by doing so we really are losing a large part of the possibilities in reality.  We are losing the very essence and beauty of the human condition, human expression and we are strangling the possibilities for expansion and transformational growth.  We struggle within this paradigm to  even find the words to describe the vital animating force of life that lives within every living organism. This causes so many problems deep in the fabric of society that I have been writing and researching on exactly this topic and my essay ‘The Sacred Solution’ is coming very soon.

So, you in? You feeling it? What you can do now?  You can find out about your local Scientific and Medical Network group, in Manchester we are starting one very soon at The Monastery, this will have on-line events to so do sign-up (top left).  You can also subscribe to Paradigm Explorer with its truly fascinating articles that will light up your soul and being. If you are an energy or spiritual worker you can find lots to support your work here.  Also, sign-up to get notified of when the essay  ‘the sacred solution’ is out and be the first to read.  It is time to start talking, having these conversations and moving on from the old world-view.  We do not have to wait we can individually start creating this now and enter on our own personal transformation growth. One day we may well just look back and the old world-view has just been quietly usurped.  A Silent Revolution.

Who are The Progressive International Movement? And why they need to be on your radar.

‘It’s time for the progressives of the world to unite!’

During the confusion and chaos of the first few weeks of Covid-19, I was sent an essay written by Noam Chomsky.  At the time it came as a great relief to read, thank goodness, here was a strong, wise voice talking a lot of sense.  I love Noam Chomsky, not just because he is a revolutionary psychologist but also for his political opinions and his strong, un-wavering quest for fairness.  He is a man of great integrity and definitely one of the good guys. I am in awe of his incredible knowledge and expansive intelligence.  This is exactly the type of voice I want to hear in a crisis. 

The article was crystal clear; he confidently stated that humanity would take one of two paths after the pandemic

1) a more authoritarian, brutal state or

2) A radical reconstruction of society with more humane terms.  

Number 1 is a very frightening prospect and one that clearly seems to be mobilising quickly.  Number 2 is exactly what the majority of people I know have been calling for and for a long time.  It seems crazy that we are allegedly evolved and developed, yet the basics are not in place.  It is pretty shocking that we even have to call for a society based on humane values.  Surely this should be a given? Unfortunately, it is not.

This clear and succinct statement by Chomsky really activated me. In the midst of Covid and lockdown, I even started plotting a campaign myself.  I felt so strongly that It was time to rise…’how could we let a brutal, authoritarian state just happen?’  I had a vision of a movement called ‘Humanity Rising’. A call for humanity to literally rise above the old, ugly and out-dated systems that we all know do not work.  I wanted everyone who wanted Chomsky’s option 2 to come together and start gathering on mass.  I wanted for us to combine our knowledge, skills, power and ingenuity to create a world that was based on good strong values, or as Chomsky again puts it, so clearly, ‘human needs instead of private profit’.  

My vision only ever went as far as a hand raise, i.e. ‘Yes, I want to rise above the old out-dated system and a call for a radical reconstruction of society with more humane terms’.  I spoke to the key people I knew who would also feel strongly about this. I even set up a Facebook group and wrote the statement/manifesto, but then the reality of lockdown with lots of children, whilst working full time set in and it never happened.  Funnily enough, a global movement called Humanity Rising did manifest (without my doing) a few weeks later with an overlapping agenda. I have now joined that Humanity Rising and I have also written about this movement as one to watch too.

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Meanwhile, my ideas of a hand rise in support of Chomsky’s call were (thank goodness) being far surpassed.  A council of over 40 advisors including Chomsky, the Icelandic Prime Minister Katriin Jakobsdottir, author Naomi Klein and many others all formed the  ‘Progressive International Movement’ (https://youtu.be/2jcRtN6RUCU).   Their call is, ‘it is time for the progressives of the world to unite’.  Strong inspiring and rousing words were given by the coordinator of Progressive International David Adler, ‘Never before has international solidarity been more necessary—and more absent.’  They formed three pillars of action; a global network, a policy blueprint and a wire service for the world’s progressive forces.   They also clearly articulated the values and progression that they wanted to see in the world.

We aspire to a world that is:

·       Democratic, where all people have the power to shape their institutions and their societies.

·       Decolonised, where all nations determine their collective destiny free from oppression.

·       Just, that redresses inequality in our societies and the legacy of our shared history.

·       Egalitarian, that serves the interests of the many, and never the few.

·       Liberated, where all identities enjoy equal rights, recognition, and power.

·       Solidaristic, where the struggle of each is the struggle of all.

·       Sustainable, that respects planetary boundaries and protects frontline communities.

·       Ecological, that brings human society into harmony with its habitat.

·       Peaceful, where the violence of war is replaced by the diplomacy of peoples.

·       Post-capitalist, that rewards all forms of labour while abolishing the cult of work.

·       Prosperous, that eradicates poverty and invests in a future of shared abundance.

·       Plural, where difference is celebrated as strength.

These words and statements surely are the basis of a civilised and decent society and world.    They are something we need not just to aspire to but something we must insist on.  Listening to the news and hearing leaders talking about the pandemic and the future, one clear thing really hit me.  We are tired of listening to leaders reading off bits of paper with empty words and see-through agendas.  We are not children and we are tired of being condescended to. We are all human beings equal in our rights and we are each born with a predisposition for co-operation and good hearts.  So, what goes wrong? How do we still not live in a civilised world that looks after its vulnerable and pursues good strong values and virtues?

At times like this the Charles Bukowski quote “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.” resounds in my ears.  This is so true, and unfortunately it is the latter that seem to have the confidence to think they can lead a country. I therefore write this as a call for the intelligent, creative people and good-hearted people to stand up, step forward for what we know in our hearts and minds is right and say, ‘no more’.  It was very telling to see the relief and admiration for the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern who is humble and full of integrity.  I hear the susurrus of internal cheers as she reported her decisions to be based on kindness and common-sense.  Hallelujah!  We need good people with good values and good hearts leading our countries and uniting, to lead us into better ways of being and living.   

The aspirations of the Progressive International are exactly this and it is a relief to read and an honour to join.   The time has definitely come for us to move on as many of the leaders are still clearly  stuck in out-dated values and beliefs.  They are from an old-outdated world view.  The aspirations of the Progressive international are progressive and we must now progress and move forward.  We also have no choice, the ugly workings of capitalism and a society that values money, status, breeds competition and power are all too clear.  How many of us really want to push aside our fellow human being as we climb to the top, or trample on them as we climb to a faster car or a fatter bank account? This is no longer acceptable, sustainable and most of us never wanted to live like this.  How can this even every be a thing when there is still poverty, ugly inequality and homelessness?  It is no wonder mental health problems are escalating, there are deep problems in the fabric of humanity.

Change can happen, change will happen but we need to divert our energy and thoughts away from moaning and berating our present leaders.  They are the old world and we can divert our energy, power and thoughts towards the new.  Psychologically, energetically it feels really powerful to do this.  In a way the change is already happening, now it is just about mobilising it. 

So, what can you do? Check out the Progressive International movement.  Join them donate to them, support them, virally market them. It is all about solidarity and by joining and mobilising global forces we can become greater than each country’s singular government.  Then change can really happen.   

Also sign up in the box on the right, stepping forward and firmly affirming ‘we will rise’. By signing up,  I can be your roving reporter checking in with all these global movements and keeping you posted.   To keep you connected and for you to join the conversation.  For instance you can read, on this site, about Humanity Rising, The Scientific and Medical Society, Paradigm Explorer and also The Monastery, Manchester all of whom are pushing boundaries

As well as information on global and collective transformational growth, I am also creating many resources and inspiration on personal transformational growth.  We can start moving to the new worldview and the new way of being without waiting for the system to evolve .  We can be the pioneers.  Read all about how creating reverence in your life can aid transformation, about the different realms of the self and also about taking personal responsibility for dealing with your own internal clutter and blockages.

Further reading

Chomsky talking about our choices (https://www.pressenza.com/2020/03/noam-chomsky-we-will-overcome-the-coronavirus-crisis-but-we-have-more-serious-crises-ahead-of-us/)

The Website of the Progressive International 

https://progressive.international

The simple secret to a beautiful child

‘Research suggests the greatest indicator of well-being is gratitude and its not about just saying ‘thank-you’’ Dr. Jeannine Goh.

We all want happy and well-adjusted children.  Yes…we all want our children to thrive, but in-amongst the plethora of well-meaning parenting guides and advice, sometimes it is difficult to know whether we are a good parent or not. Do they really need music lessons, extra tutors, good SAT scores, to be invited to everyones’ parties, the latest iphone, no sugar, no screens, the coolest trainers, outdoor play and meditation lessons?  And do we, as parents, really have the time or inclination to sift, assess and provide?

The good news for us parents is that according to researchers (Wood, Joseph, & Maltby, 2008) of all the psychological variables it is gratitude that has one of the strongest relationships with well-being.  In simple terms, that means that having a child that is grateful also means they are likely to be high in well-being. Before I hear you groan ‘Oh no…not all that wet stuff about children being grateful and thankful…we’ve heard it all before’, do hear me out.  ‘But we’ve tried it all before…going home and encouraging  our children to say thank-you for their dinner, thank-you for being allowed to watch telly, thank-you for their bedtime story, thank-you for us reminding them to clean their teeth, thank-you for encouraging them to say thank-you’.  ‘And then retreating under our duvet to bemoan how thankless parenting is.  Not more pressure to do more good please…!’

But, please bear with me as there really is good news for us over-worked parents.  What these researchers were getting at is that it is not about saying lots of thank-you-s.  Actually, it is a bit deeper than that. What they are saying is that there is a personality trait which they have coined, ‘a positive life-orientation to gratitude’ which in simple terms means that our children (or us in fact)  just need to ‘notice and appreciate’ things to be grateful and thus be happy, well-adjusted and high in well-being.  Hooray!  We do not actually have to do more activities, or more ‘things’, we just need to notice and appreciate, with our children the things that we, do, do and ‘scaffold’ this type of positive-talk with our children and that is it.  It isn’t rocket science and the links are clear between this and all the research on, for example mindfulness, which is very well-documented as greatly increasing well-being.  We, basically need to slow-down (hooray), create more space in our lives (hooray), simplify and detangle our lives (hooray) to have more time to notice and appreciate what we and our children do (hooray hooray!).

And it is not just well-being that will improve.  Wait for it…it has been found that engagement in mutual and supportive relations is associated with positive youth development (Rubin, Bukowosi, & Parker, 2006), and increased levels of gratitude in adolescents is also linked to positive affect, optimism, satisfaction with school, community, friends and self (Froh, Yurkewica, & Kashdan, 2009), higher life satisfaction, social integration, and less envy, depression and materialism (Froh, Emmons, Card, Bono &, Wilson, 2011). High levels of gratitude in adolescents is also associated with academic achievement (Froh, Emmons, Card, Bono, 2011).  So….what are we waiting for?  Let’s develop this positive personality trait in not just our children but ourselves too.

But……… what do we do to encourage this wonderful ‘positive life-orientation to gratitude’? The great news is that it is not about getting the new iphone, or sending our little one off to lots of clubs.  It is not about what you actually do it is the encouraging of positive emotion and an understanding of the transaction involved.  For instance, rather than asking them to repeat the phrase  ‘thank you’ after dinner, it is the appreciation of the processes behind getting that dinner on the table that can be talked about around the table.  Who cooked it despite a hard day? Why they cooked it? That they made it because they love you and want you to be happy.  That there are rumours that there are 100 people who touched that meal to bring it on your plate (from planting, manufacturing, selling).  It is the understanding of these deeper aspects of the gratitude exchange the ‘gratitude-talk’ that is important.  Putting good, solid, sentences in their heads to help them understand gratitude on a deeper level than just saying ‘thank-you’.

We can also notice and appreciate all our children do, that they work so hard all day at school (I had this realization at the last parent’s day…it really is a hard day at work for our little ones).  Appreciating that they are a little human-beings with their own responsibilities, worries, concerns and joys.  Enjoying their souls, spirits and minds and exploring together what is out the window, the changing of the seasons, understanding the beautiful world we live and the transactions that are cashless and are acts of kindness, love and compassion.  Revelling in the wonder of life for all of its challenges and triumphs.  Through these subtle exchanges we are empowering our little ones to not just have a ‘positive life-orientation to gratitude’ but to become thoughtful, sensitive, emotionally-literate, good, little human beings.

For more information or to buy Dr Goh’s parent’s guide and story-book  that encourages a ‘positive-life orientation’ in children http://www.awespace.org/books/

The Enchanted Child Book

And do sign up to the blog below to get the latest articles on children, yoga, well-being and how to create space in your life!

Photo credit: Mi Pham

DISENCHANTED TO ENCHANTED: KEY THEMES TO EXPLORE WITH YOUR CHILD

Gratitude, compassion and awe are central to well-being and for your child to thrive. The key theme of gratitude,  has formed a focus of recent research in psychology. This research, the idea of ‘noticing and appreciating’ what is around, has seen to be strongly related to well-being, and is described as a form of gratitude. Gratitude is often taught by encouraging children to say ‘thank you’.

Whilst it is great to have this verbal exchange in terms of politeness, it is clear that genuine gratitude is about being connected enough to an exchange to truly feel gratitude for it. Therefore it is about ‘noticing and appreciating’ the deeper aspects of the exchange. The latter takes more energy, and it requires contemplation and careful exploration to encourage this level of connection in children. It’s certainly not easy to achieve, but we have found inspiring ways to convey and explore gratitude with children.

In modern western society, we are encouraged to be unique, autonomous individuals, and whilst this has its merits, it also has its pressures. In the recent UNICEF survey, UK children scored poorly on the social measures. Add this to the narcissism and lack of empathy that is being reported in the academic literature and this is cause for great concern. We must start asking questions about, where the strong teachings, centred on co-operation, communion, and harnessing greater and deeper connections to one another, should be coming from? Again, whilst this is taught in a cognitive way in schools – the ‘you should share because it is nice to share’ approach – actually having children truly connect to this concept is a much deeper process.

With children, we have found that it involves discussions of the greater good and exploration of this in their close groups, which can then be widened to their community, and more widely to the world. Once more, this level of connection is not easy to achieve, but we have found inspiring ways to convey and explore these concepts with children.

At the heart of the development of these deeper connections lies compassion; or more specifically trying to help children understand and develop compassion. Academic research reports levels of empathy declining in our young, and we believe that having children develop their compassion will be central to increasing empathy. Moreover, we take this to deep, philosophical levels, by, for instance, talking to the children and encouraging them to explore interconnectedness.

We guide children to the realisation that we all share life, and we all have life running through us. As a point of exploration, we may, for example, show children a dying brown crispy leaf and compare it to one which has life running through it and is thriving. We are not afraid to discuss deeper issues such as what life is and what happens when life no longer thrives. In fact it is these realisations, that are a platform for everything else to be explored. From a recognition and respect of life, we become connected to each other and nature, and we begin to respect the earth and the conditions needed for life to survive. We feel gratitude for the earth, the elements and the wider cosmos, visible as the sun, the moon, and the stars.

We believe these to be important discussions to have with children. To discuss and consider what happens when life leaves something, what happens when life thrives and how can we cultivate life? When children connect themselves to being part of a bigger whole, they realise that they have a responsibility and a job to do, we are custodians of the earth. It is wonderful to observe in children these realisations growing in a very gentle way. This can be an awe-inspiring experience and with it comes a natural care and feelings of compassion and gratitude. Moreover, from this realisation of interconnectedness the child develops a profound sense of belonging.

These ideas are, not new to us, but sometimes it is the obvious, or the conveyance of the basics, that can slip past us without us realising. We can loose our ground; or more probably we have lost our ground. The themes themselves are no strangers to us, and certainly form the basis of many religions and spiritual doctrines. Some of you may even be starting to think that the ideas conveyed are starting to sound religious…even this thought may lead some people to start closing off…please don’t. These concepts can also be viewed philosophically, they are basic wisdom; it is just common-sense.

They are aspects to life that underpin religions, but they are also non-denominational. Religions gather these concepts up into neat packages with a clear overriding narrative, which allows people to access and understand the deeper aspects of life. Indeed, without a grand narrative to hang these off, the teachings can just become disparate units that are difficult to put together, or connect to, and this is part of the challenge. But these concepts, this deeper connection, can be taught in an inclusive, non-denominational way, and we have to explore this.

We believe we have found a wisdom approach, a common-sense approach, to teaching and exploring these concepts. We have found a way to give children a basic foundation of the basis of life, that we can then build on. Those who wish, or are encouraged at home, to take it further with spirituality or religion are free to do so; those who don’t are still able to connect to these deeper issues without them (or their parents) fearing that it is leading to places they do not want to go. There is a commonality between us all, and we truly believe that a lack, or sometimes a fear, of addressing this is causing tears and rips deep in the fabric of society.

These basics, and how to explore these in a secular community, is something we have shied away from on a practical level for too long. We are bravely stepping forward, not claiming to have the full solution, but we have certainly taken gentle, careful steps on this path. We are also certain that if we want to repair some of the rips and damage deep in the fabric of our communities and society then we need to create space for this type of non-denominational, wisdom-based, heart-led approach to evolve.

We have touched on some deep issues for contemplation, as we do in our school programme and our work. However, in our school programme we balance these deep periods of contemplation and realisation, with vibrant periods of dance and song. Along this path there is so much to celebrate and the desire to sing and dance with glee, to jump for joy, be free, just overcomes us.

We want to celebrate: the life that we all share; that we are alive at this very moment; the exciting realisation that we have a life full of possibilities ahead; and the fact that we live in this expansive universe. We celebrate each of our talents, and encourage each other to find these talents and share them with the world. This leads me to end with a quote, I’ve never been sure who said it, but if it was you, thank you… I love it! It goes something like this…

‘Ask not what the world wants from you, but what makes you feel alive and go and do it, the world needs people who are truly alive.’

Are you a Modern-Day-Mystic?

I am excited!  After three years of reading libraries of books, undertaking some deep, deep mystical practices and fascinating research, and scribbling away furiously, I am going to reveal some of the material from my new book at a lovely festival called Breathe in August. This festival is organised by someone very special who I have known for a long time and she has  invited the top International teachers of Breathwork to run workshops and talks there (in amongst some other fantastic offerings – including an outdoor swimming pool).  It’s going to be quite an experience…unforgettable…unmissable!

So…as many of you know, I am a Doctor and lecturer in Psychology (expertise in self-awareness), an author and the Director of a social enterprise called Awespace.org. I am also an inspirational speaker, a very loving mother and over the last few years people have been starting to refer to me as a modern-day mystic… Ooooo fancy!  To be honest I am not particularly fond of titles as they lead to all sorts of pre-conceptions and the idea of a mystic certainly brings up all types of associations and imagery. For example, that I am going whip out a crystal ball and appear shrouded in a purple mist (although that might be quite entertaining).  But….as the mist starts to dissipate what emerges is nothing ‘all singing and dancing’ but actually something rather private and something really quite humble.

The etymology of the word Mystic, we can trace to The New Testament and the verb muo and this simply means ‘shutting the eyes and mouth to experience mystery’.  That’s pretty nice…and something softens in me when I hear this.  We are also pleased to discover that whilst religion is exoteric i.e. it comes externally, that Mystic is esoteric i.e. it is internal or contemplative.  Grand narratives, or being told what to do, or what to  believe (externally), have become increasingly difficult for many of us and therefore religion problematic for many modern-day seekers.  We are talking about unseen forces here and as we have seen again and again in the past these have been exploited.  It becomes difficult to know what to believe, it is sometimes difficult to know your new-age bullshit from the life-changing practices. Moreover, these unseen forces have been side-lined and mocked by traditional Western Science, but …these forces can never be ignored or pushed away even if they are obscured. We are in a new epoch and these unseen forces are creating (as Nikola Tesla predicted) the greatest of revolutions. And, this is not just in quantum mechanics (where the unseen forces are kicking ass) but within each one of us.  In the book I call this wonderful internal transformation, The Silent Revolution of the Self.

Each of us is poised ready for this revolution (or may be well on the way) and each of us has a different path to tread.  We each have a different understanding of our own internal worlds, and our own unique belief system. No one can tell us exactly what to do and what to feel, our path is our own. However, if we choose to tune into our esoteric internal world, transcend the chatter of the mind and recognise the life-force within as a deep intelligence we are stepping into the mystical realms.  In these realms the wise, wise words of the ancient mystics become so beautiful and profound that they can touch us so deeply and bring us to tears.  They also provide a humble and ethical framework and a stable, wise ground on which to grow our own beliefs. We are guided to sense and develop an internal barometer to gauge and be guided by the unseen forces (and to sniff out the bullshit).  A more beautiful world opens up to us. We become the Christopher Colombus of our own internal world, embarking on an adventure of a life-time.  We thrive…,life becomes more simple, we become more humble and everything all of a sudden makes just perfect sense.

See Jeannine talk on the 1st of September at Breathe

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The simple secret to a beautiful child

‘Research suggests the greatest indicator of well-being is gratitude and its not about just saying ‘thank-you’’ Dr. Jeannine Goh.

We all want happy and well-adjusted children.  Yes…we all want our children to thrive, but in-amongst the plethora of well-meaning parenting guides and advice, sometimes it is difficult to know whether we are a good parent or not. Do they really need music lessons, extra tutors, good SAT scores, to be invited to everyones’ parties, the latest iphone, no sugar, no screens, the coolest trainers, outdoor play and meditation lessons?  And do we, as parents, really have the time or inclination to sift, assess and provide?

The good news for us parents is that according to researchers (Wood, Joseph, & Maltby, 2008) of all the psychological variables it is gratitude that has one of the strongest relationships with well-being.  In simple terms, that means that having a child that is grateful also means they are likely to be high in well-being. Before I hear you groan ‘Oh no…not all that wet stuff about children being grateful and thankful…we’ve heard it all before’, do hear me out.  ‘But we’ve tried it all before…going home and encouraging  our children to say thank-you for their dinner, thank-you for being allowed to watch telly, thank-you for their bedtime story, thank-you for us reminding them to clean their teeth, thank-you for encouraging them to say thank-you’.  ‘And then retreating under our duvet to bemoan how thankless parenting is.  Not more pressure to do more good please…!’

But, please bear with me as there really is good news for us over-worked parents.  What these researchers were getting at is that it is not about saying lots of thank-you-s.  Actually, it is a bit deeper than that. What they are saying is that there is a personality trait which they have coined, ‘a positive life-orientation to gratitude’ which in simple terms means that our children (or us in fact)  just need to ‘notice and appreciate’ things to be grateful and thus be happy, well-adjusted and high in well-being.  Hooray!  We do not actually have to do more activities, or more ‘things’, we just need to notice and appreciate, with our children the things that we, do, do and ‘scaffold’ this type of positive-talk with our children and that is it.  It isn’t rocket science and the links are clear between this and all the research on, for example mindfulness, which is very well-documented as greatly increasing well-being.  We, basically need to slow-down (hooray), create more space in our lives (hooray), simplify and detangle our lives (hooray) to have more time to notice and appreciate what we and our children do (hooray hooray!).

And it is not just well-being that will improve.  Wait for it…it has been found that engagement in mutual and supportive relations is associated with positive youth development (Rubin, Bukowosi, & Parker, 2006), and increased levels of gratitude in adolescents is also linked to positive affect, optimism, satisfaction with school, community, friends and self (Froh, Yurkewica, & Kashdan, 2009), higher life satisfaction, social integration, and less envy, depression and materialism (Froh, Emmons, Card, Bono &, Wilson, 2011). High levels of gratitude in adolescents is also associated with academic achievement (Froh, Emmons, Card, Bono, 2011).  So….what are we waiting for?  Let’s develop this positive personality trait in not just our children but ourselves too.

But……… what do we do to encourage this wonderful ‘positive life-orientation to gratitude’? The great news is that it is not about getting the new iphone, or sending our little one off to lots of clubs.  It is not about what you actually do it is the encouraging of positive emotion and an understanding of the transaction involved.  For instance, rather than asking them to repeat the phrase  ‘thank you’ after dinner, it is the appreciation of the processes behind getting that dinner on the table that can be talked about around the table.  Who cooked it despite a hard day? Why they cooked it? That they made it because they love you and want you to be happy.  That there are rumours that there are 100 people who touched that meal to bring it on your plate (from planting, manufacturing, selling).  It is the understanding of these deeper aspects of the gratitude exchange the ‘gratitude-talk’ that is important.  Putting good, solid, sentences in their heads to help them understand gratitude on a deeper level than just saying ‘thank-you’.

We can also notice and appreciate all our children do, that they work so hard all day at school (I had this realization at the last parent’s day…it really is a hard day at work for our little ones).  Appreciating that they are a little human-beings with their own responsibilities, worries, concerns and joys.  Enjoying their souls, spirits and minds and exploring together what is out the window, the changing of the seasons, understanding the beautiful world we live and the transactions that are cashless and are acts of kindness, love and compassion.  Revelling in the wonder of life for all of its challenges and triumphs.  Through these subtle exchanges we are empowering our little ones to not just have a ‘positive life-orientation to gratitude’ but to become thoughtful, sensitive, emotionally-literate, good, little human beings.

 

For more information or to buy Dr Goh’s parent’s guide and story-book  that encourages a ‘positive-life orientation’ in children http://www.awespace.org/books/

The Enchanted Child Book

And do sign up to the blog below to get the latest articles on children, yoga, well-being and how to create space in your life!

 

Photo credit: Mi Pham

Awespace has landed!

We are really excited to be releasing our website today and give a huge thanks to the creative dynamic team of designer James Stiff and Fiona for this beautiful creation! We hope that the text is inspiring and sets out our ambitious plans. Please do feedback, get involved, get excited with us, we are all about co-creation and collaboration.

Its all hands on deck at the moment preparing for our first event, The Magic of Life Festival. Many feelings of excitement, mixed-with nerves in our team and in the schools. We have many after-school clubs running with our dance lead Bridget working with the children to explore our music through movement. We have a beautiful harmony choir working with our professional singer Fiona. Sal who is directing the show has uncovered magic in two lead child actors, and our live band have started rehearsals. Our artist Sam and costume designer, Bridget are going down to grumpy tomorrow to source costumes and materials to create a giant puppet head and a magical, harmonising, wisdom tree. Yup you’re in for a great show!

The event is shaping up to be a ball. We have now confirmed Jubacana a youth samba group will be playing an acoustic set and we have two beautiful musicians creating deep and inspiring music in the Great Nave. In-between we will have one-off inspiring workshops and a fun-festival theme. its going to be a lovely day… a not to be missed event!

Also how lovely it will be to be in The Monastery. This building is very special as you will soon find out AND we have just been told it will have its Christmas decorations up. Pure magic to share with your friends and family!

Wonderful Workshops

We run a range of different workshops in various different environments. At the heart of all our work are the themes of wisdom, creativity and compassion. We also consult and run workshops on creating awespace in both the physical and psychological realms.

For children

In schools – we run many workshops in our Soulful School programme.

At events – we create our own events. Our first large event is the Magic of Life festival. We aim to grow this to into an international festival.

In the community – we are available to create bespoke workshops for any event.

For adults

Although most of our work at the moment is child-focused we are in the process of developing our very exciting and diverse adult work. Within our collective lies a body of wisdom of psychology, philosophy, yoga, meditation and a huge pool of creative talent to deliver unique and pioneering workshops and courses. At present we are drawing in more expertise and expect our adult work to start piloting in 2015.

Our founder psychologist Dr. Jeannine Goh who is also an experienced yoga practitioner also presently runs adult workshops exploring the body and mind connection, and specialising in creating awespace. Please subscribe to our blog to find out about upcoming events.