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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‘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/
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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!