I stopped in my tracks as I reached the top step of the open-air restaurant.
I was captivated by the view of the warm terracotta roof tiles and palm trees framing the pale blue sky and the vast Arabian Sea, where fishermen worked for hours every day to bring in their catch.
We had just finished yoga on the beach at sunrise (Cherai Beach in Kerala, India), and I was feeling invigorated by the grace and flow from moving my body , the sounds within and around me as we chanted, and how present I felt in my body and mind. My heart was also pumping from the ride home on the bikes which Carolyn and I hired to get us back and forth from yoga.
This was how we started each day on the 8-day NLP Intensive run by Sue Knight and Ramesh Prasad, and I found that I had many a-ha moments outside the training room as well as within it.
I’ve found it fascinating how moving, stretching, and focusing on my body in this way reinforced and enhanced the changes in my mind, and how at home I felt from the moment I arrived.
There was a moment last time when I squeezed a juicy piece of lemon into my tea, and I later anchored* that moment. Right then, I realised that I can feel at home wherever I am. And I smiled and re-connected with that when I had my first cup of tea this time in the garden at Blue Waters hotel, where we had the course.
If you’ve ever read The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, you’ll be familiar with the concept of seeking and travelling a long way to then discover that what you were looking for was right under your nose! It was a bit like that, AND I was glad I had such an adventure far away from home to discover it (and re-discover it this time).
Stretching my comfort zone
‘Comfort’ was a theme that came up quite a bit before and during this programme, in how I acted and how I spoke about my learning outcomes. Sue challenged me on it – and I’m glad she did – because it had become a blind spot for me in various aspects of life. Perhaps (at least partly) because of living in limbo with the pandemic, and especially having long-covid on-and-off for over two years, I found ways to just accept things as they were at the time (settle, maybe?).
It feels important to challenge and update my beliefs around my health, as well as what I’m capable of as a professional. I have become a little too comfortable with my natural style which is soft and gentle. It does work well and my clients find they can go deep with exploring and understanding themselves… However, I can flex my coaching muscles and benefit clients by being more provocative and challenging, at times!
I believe that where there is discomfort, there is learning, and I have felt the benefit through this training programme, once again.
“I am STRONG”
One of the a-ha moments was when I noticed a tangible, visceral shift from believing “I am resilient” to “I am STRONG”. This feels so different for me, because resilience implies that there are things to be resilient against. Being strong is about a way of being in the world, from the inside-out, and is not dependent on a set of external conditions. It’s about getting myself – and any stories I might be telling myself – out of the way.
This has been a revelation for me, and I am now exploring what that means in my life as it is now. And the more I pay attention to it and say it to myself, the stronger I feel.
That’s the beauty of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming): it’s about studying subjective experience, learning and doing ‘what works’… and sustaining it, too. Through almost 100 days of training (so far!) I have gained a treasure trove of skills and techniques.
And, most of all, I have found a way home to myself.
“Wherever you go, there you are.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
Exciting opportunities for you
Carolyn and I are taking bookings for the next NLP programme in Spring 2023. Part 1 is online on 27-28 April followed by two sets of 3 days in-person to be confirmed very soon! Contact me if you want to chat about how this could benefit you.We can also discuss one-to-one coaching.
*Anchoring is a technique where we can bring about a desired state (or way of being) by choice, for example calmness, playfulness, or confidence, by choosing and activating a signal to ‘switch it on’. It really works!
Working with metaphors has been life-changing for me, and for many people I have worked with.
A metaphor is a way of expressing something that conveys a variety of meaningful attributes, in the form of something else.
You might hear people say things like…
“It’s as if I’m on a treadmill and I can’t keep up”
“I went for a walk to blow away the cobwebs”
“You’re a star”
None of these are literal statements – not usually anyway! – but they mean something beyond the surface structure of the words to the person who’s saying them. In other words, what we mean goes deeper than what we say, and a metaphor is a sign that there is more to discover in the unconscious aspects of our experience.
Where it gets really interesting, I find, is when the person is having some kind of embodied experience in the form of a metaphor, for example…
“I can see red mist, I’m so angry”
“There’s a tightness in my throat when I talk about it”
“I just know. I can feel it in my gut… heavy like a stone”
“I can feel a buzz of positive energy”
Or it could be pointing emphatically to a particular point in the space around them, a or sound (like ‘whoosh’ or ‘bang’).
Again, none of these are literal but there is clearly some deeper meaning, and other insights to be found if we have a chance to explore.
Understanding your metaphors can create profound shifts, often bringing about new metaphors which change the whole outlook.
In the photo on this post, I show an example of a metaphor I held at the start of my transformational journey with #NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) – a scraggy old onion with lots of layers to peel back and discover. Through NLP tools and techniques, this then transformed into a beautiful lotus flower, with the petals gracefully unfolding with ease, representing the thinking and beliefs I now hold about how I learn and develop at my best.
And once you begin to understand metaphors you begin to develop a landscape of understanding, how things connect and relate to each other, and find solutions and choices you never even knew existed!
You can probably tell I’m passionate about this… I could go on for hours, but I won’t!
Plans changed this morning after two clients had to postpone.
My thoughts at first went to my to-do list and what I could/should be getting on with today.
I have also been thinking about messages I’d like to share about this time of year and it’s simply this…
~ create space for yourself ~
As soon as I realised I was going into busy mode and that my mind was preoccupied and my body tense… I took a
It created space and relief instantly.
It can be as simple as a single deep breath, or even better 2 or 3 minutes of breathing space (you can find a guided meditation here). We can use our breath as an antidote to the fight-or-flight reaction and instead restore mind and body to alignment and a healthy state of being.
And even if you don’t think you have time… ESPECIALLY if you don’t think you have time, try it anyway and notice what happens.
One of the ways I challenge myself on that is asking myself whether I could make space by spending a few minutes less on social media. Of course I can!
And when this becomes a regular habit, it really makes a difference over the long term.
The result today is that I treated myself to a wee breakfast out looking over the hills, and I took my dog for a longer walk than usual.
I then came back and had the most productive 90 minutes at my desk that I’ve had in a while.
How can you create space today? And what happens when you do?
PS – If you could benefit from a little bit of self-care each day, my new inspirational cards take just moments to have a look at, and clients are telling me they’re just the lift they’re needing at the moment. The pictures are lovely too, like the one above!
This month I’m celebrating my birthday, both personal and business, and it’s now 7 years since I left the corporate world to become self-employed. It’s also 10 years since I began to transform my life by building on my professional experience with qualifications which have led to what I’m doing now.
I’m passionate about finding different and creative ways to support, inspire, and encourage people, and this year has brought several new approaches and experiences.
– My podcast – a series of conversations to spark curiosity, share learning and inspiration, and connect listeners with what’s important in their lives.
– E-book – I created an A to Z of Mindful Living in the form of a workbook which has a variety of activities, stories, quotes, and links to other resources like meditations and videos. It was a pleasure working with Donna McKenna at Pink Spaghetti PA Services Stirling & Livingston to bring this to life.
– Inspirational card deck – this has been my latest creation, and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed. There are 52 beautiful cards with original photos, doodles, quotes, and themes from my book ‘Roots for Growth’. The cards can be used for coaching, workshops, inspiration and self-reflection and I can’t wait to start using them with my clients!
– My book has continued to reach people in significant ways. One lady who had recently retired and felt very unsettled wrote to me to tell me she had found clarity, peace, and focus from reading it, and found a renewed appreciation for her career and her resilience. I’ve also had more opportunities to speak at events, radio shows, and webinars.
– I co-designed and delivered a leadership development programme on Strengthening Mental Fitness with Carolyn Murray. We have been bringing it to other teams since then and over 90% of participants so far have rated the programme as Excellent.
– I applied for funding towards this brand new, professionally designed website which helps me to tell the story of what I do, why I do it, and provide more opportunities for visitors to connect through videos, meditations, and many of the above approaches. It has been a very worthwhile experience and a way to acknowledge and build on where I am now and develop for the future. Thanks Karen Wells at Indigo Nine!
– This year I also became an Ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland who do incredible work to tap into the significant economic potential of women entrepreneurs, lobby for change and equality, and encourage women and girls to start and grow businesses in Scotland. It’s an honour to be chosen, especially on their 10th anniversary, and already it has broadened my horizons in ways that can bring benefits for other people as well as helping me to grow.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this time. I really appreciate it.
A couple of years ago I visited Kelvingrove Museum with my daughter to see an exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s work. I was intrigued to see the brushstrokes and pencil drawings in person, imagining him creating them all that time ago… little did I know it would spark my curiosity way beyond that.
There are many similarities in the style and form of his work, but these two stood out when I realised what’s different and unique about them.
The first is an anatomically correct study of a human spine, with every vertebra meticulously studied and set out on the page. Nothing like this had ever been done before, yet look at how the shape and form is precise, with structured notes and uniformity. Imagine the tenacity and attention to detail which went into such a piece of work, and how this helped physicians and scientists at the time.
The other picture is a map of an area in Italy which was entirely created through studying from ground level and IMAGINING what the aerial view would be. There was no aerial photography, no means of flying (yet… although he was a pioneer in that too), and yet he was able to create a map which is representative of the real landscape.
The mind which created these fascinates me, and especially the belief and determination which he must have had to boldly go where – literally – no one had gone before.
“The most important places on a map are the places we haven’t been yet.” ~ Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
During a planning meeting last week, Carolyn and I were talking about ‘maps of the world’. It’s an expression used in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and it helps to describe how we each have a unique perception of the world which shapes our experiences. In metaphorical terms, this internal representation could be likened to a ‘map’, with all the features set according to what we have experienced, our beliefs, values, memories, conditioning… and everything we have taken in through our senses. And yet this internal map which us humans have is only a representation – it’s not the whole truth, it’s not factual, and it has missing bits!
Just like Leonardo da Vinci we have created a map based on a sub-set of information, although perhaps less consciously.
As one of the Beliefs of Excellence (or pre-suppositions) in NLP says:
“The map is not the territory.”
What this is saying, in human terms, is that we have our map imprinted and integrated with all we know and have experienced, and yet there is no single version of the truth. We filter from subjective experience, which is essentially what NLP is about – the study of subjective experience, focusing on excellence and ‘doing what works’. Even having been in the same place at the same time as someone, there will be two versions of events. I am a twin and my sister and I recall different things from the same situations sometimes, either remembering different things or describing the same thing but not in the same way.
Did you know, I work with a variety of methods to support my clients?
It’s never ‘just’ a coaching session… I’d describe it as joining the client in their world and exploring the full depth of their experience.
Energy – sometimes I notice subtle shifts, other times I use structured modalities like Reiki or EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapy/Tapping). This can have a profoundly healing effect, and I think it’s one of the reasons why so many people say they leave feeling ‘lighter’, both physically and emotionally.
Body Wisdom – how often do you notice an instinct… a gut feeling… a voice in your head… a feeling of resistance… or maybe something else comes to mind? Often this wisdom becomes more noticeable in hindsight. By working with an experienced facilitator you can tap into the infinite resources of your inner knowing, without having to wait for hindsight. And once you do, it’s amazing how your curiosity, awareness, and intuition develops!
Space – a fascinating technique called ‘clean space’ offers spontaneous wisdom by using the space around and within us to bring new awareness in a very short space of time. It’s one of my favourites!
And I often work outside, in nature, as the environment can bring some really interesting, spontaneous signals to pay attention to.
Timeline – a powerful NLP technique (Neuro Linguistic Programming) which is a way of exploring how we relate to our experiences in context of time, gain unique learning, and connect with resourceful experiences in the past, present, or even the future. This can be stepped out on the floor, drawn on a piece of paper, or simply by closing your eyes and drifting to a point in time.
Metaphors – these pop up from our unconscious mind with an uncanny knack of providing solutions, insights, confidence… and much more! Since I learned how to work with metaphors I have found so many useful resources within myself and with my clients… and had a lot of fun doing so too!
Language patterns, habits, and beliefs – what we say to ourselves and others, and the beliefs we hold, can significantly shape our experiences. Learning what helps and hinders us can bring lifelong benefits to wellbeing, relationships, leadership, parenthood, work… or any other aspect of life. With this awareness and choice we can live more consciously, embrace challenges and opportunities, and bring the best of ourselves to those around us.
Meditation – as a qualified meditation teacher I tailor guided meditations to individual clients, offer classes and events on mindfulness, and record complimentary meditations on all sorts of topics like gratitude, breathing, body scans, and visualisations.
Creativity and writing – Over the years I have developed ways for clients to get into the flow of their creativity through drawing, writing, speaking, photographs, crafts, and meditation. Whether it’s in a group setting or individually, working with creativity can boost energy levels, create a sense of deep connection, and bring a fresh outlook to challenges and opportunities. And now a variety of creative interests are woven into my work.