“Inner Child Journeys” goes to Serbia

So this little book decided to go to Europe. First stop: Serbia. I trust it! There must be a reason why it went there first – why? I’m sure we’ll soon find out. But, thanks to Vlad Madic from Esotheria Press, there it is.

Know anyone in Serbia who would like to get their hands on this translation of my handbook? Here is where they can find it. 

Vidimo se kasnije!
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Inner Child Journeys practitioner training – at Europe time!

   This one is for all of you in Europe and UK,    we have made our online training at a much more favorable time for you. But, hey, if you are a qualified health practitioner and you are keen to join us, then jump in, from anywhere in the world!    

Our international tribe of Inner Child Journey Guides keeps growing, and I look forward to welcoming you in, to learn this wonderful Process together. I am very heartened by the exciting results that are unfolding.     We start in September!

For info and enrollment, here is your link. 

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Free Online Talk for Health Practitioners – Developmental Needs

 

 

This Free Talk is for qualified Health Practitioners, and will include time for Q&A.

You’ll need to calculate the time for your part of the world.

For more info and to register your interest, CLICK HERE. 

I look forward to seeing you there, it’s going to be an interesting discussion!

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The Inner Child in Parenting, Education and Organization – in China!

An idea whose time has come. The Inner Child (triggered body-memory) is in all our relationships. At home, and at work. Without awareness: discord, confusion, blame. With awareness: healing, flow.        I’m deeply honored to be bringing this work to China, in an upcoming 4-part webinar series.

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The Wounded Child behind our ‘politics’

What does Inner Child work have to do with activism and politics? PLENTY!!!

We think we make our political choices rationally. But most of our voting, opinionating and activism springs from a much deeper place. If we don’t awaken to our wounded Inner Child’s voice, we are compelled to repeat history in ever new guises. We reinforce polarization. While ‘fighting’ for the ‘good cause’ we perpetuate conflict.

Listen inward, validate our Inner Child’s voice, and we set both ourselves and the world around us free from endlessly vicious cycles.

That’s what I spoke about with Lisa Reagan from Kindred Media you can listen and watch here. You’re invited to add your comments and thoughts and I hope to hear from you. Enjoy!

 

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The next Inner Child Journeys online practitioner training is up!

Starting in May 2021, this will be our fourth skills-based, evidence-based online training for counsellors, psychologists, health practitioners.

Based on my book of the same title, this dialogical process brings release, forward momentum and healing to our relationship conflicts and challenges. Wonderful for parent coaches and relationship therapists.

I look forward to welcoming you to our growing international community of Inner Child Journey Guides. For enquiries and enrollment, click HERE. 

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The Inner Child Journey goes online in Hong Kong

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New short-film: about the Inner Child

This beautiful new film, made by a world-traveling friend: sublimely photographed, with a timely message. (Or you might say: one particular lens on the message….)

In some ways, it seems synchronistic with a part of my book: “Inner Child Journeys”

You might see my cameo-appearance (Magic Dream #6) in this child-like and dreamy film.

Enjoy!

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ARE BIRDS SINGING US HOME?

(from quarantine, on the 12th floor, somewhere in Auckland)

The road can be such a clarifying teacher. We’re constantly awakening to new and unfamiliar places. Before our eyes open to let in new light, what greets us first is … the soundscape. I had not fully comprehended just how much that would matter. And how the sound of a morning can set the tone for the day.

Last week, it was all traffic. You can feel the rumble of traffic in your back teeth. Buzzy, yet hollow. Allegro … ma non troppo. Like the sadness you get from eating white bread. Sometimes it takes a minute or two to understand the nature of an empty space, as when a familiar, awaited joy has failed to show up. Where are they?

For years, before we left our home on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, we had been sung awake each morning by an ever-changing chorus. A pining lament here, a warbling melody there, some cheeky chatter, some raucous revelry. Every new day announced by riotous, avian acapella. A jam in the canopy. Curious thing; how it takes an absence to know you’ve been happy. The kind of happiness you don’t even notice when it’s there.

The music given freely by our flying friends comforts our souls – though we may not know it. I’m sure if we lay there for a few extra breaths, eyes closed, feeling our chest, we would feel how birdsong plays upon our heart-strings. Easy to miss, what with all the important boxes we have to tick in a day.

 

How do these sky-concerts affect our sensitive nervous systems? Humans love to set up serious experiments – to show us the obvious things we refuse to see. To find proof of the things we are afraid to believe in. Like the recent German study of thousands of people across 26 different countries, showing increased happiness among those who live near abundant birdlife.  Apparently, you can predict levels of public happiness by the diversity of bird species in the vicinity (I say: ‘wow!’ to that, but … should it have been obvious?). Studies like this one abound; Green is essential for mental health. Remove us from our ecological roots, and we become sad, anxious, gloomy and sick. But the music of Nature is hardly on Medicine’s and Psychology’s radar, at least not yet. How little we know ourselves.

Enter biologist Dan Carlson from the University of Minnesota. He demonstrated how the sounds of birds singing or crickets chirruping – he calls these “green music” – possess frequencies that boost plant growth and yield. A plant’s stomata – pores on the underside of leaves that absorb water and nutrients and expel oxygen – get wider when exposed to the melodies of Nature. Carlson made his point stick with a Guinness World Record-winning Purple Passion (Gynura aurantiaca), fertilized by birdsong.

There is a quest to know more about how music animates life (tangential musing: was biological life sung into being?). Scientists have called it: ‘plant bioacoustics’: the study of biological transformations triggered by “green music”. Repeatedly they find Nature’s frequencies are beneficial to plant size and yield, healthy leaf formation and the volume of seeds. Plants have an ear for music – “green music” especially has been shown to increase oxygen uptake and polyamine content (key compounds for cell proliferation).

So, if Nature’s music has a vital, chemically recorded impact on plants, how does it affect humans? Does this explain why I am enraptured sometimes, or deeply comforted at other times, when birds serenade from above? Like a plant, I’m made of chemicals and cells. Wouldn’t “green music” play me like a keyboard, and nourish my health just as it does for plants? If these flying balladeers can transform plant chemistry, what do they do for yours and mine?

And here is Side B. Outside Nature’s symphony, we fall out of tune. Dissonance within, discord without. Like I felt waking to those highway sounds: ejected, an alien in my own body. The phenomenon of Nature Deprivation Syndrome is gaining increased attention around the world. Surrounded by concrete, we are fish out of water. Our greatest handicap is our ability to adapt to deprivation until we no longer feel it. We settle into a new normal until we forget to crave what we actually need. Disconnection and anxiety become the baseline; unremarkable and unexamined. Dislocated from our true nature, it’s too easy to be distracted by the easy rush of a purchase, a stimulant, a substance or an ‘entertainment’. Like a starving person who forgot all about food.

In Japan, doctors prescribe ‘forest bathing’. Scottish medics too have begun sending their patients into the wilderness. That makes so much sense to me. I love how quickly the rambunctious cockatoos or the warbling magpies can lift my spirits. Sons and daughters of music, we are instruments and we are meant to be played. The wind strums the canopy like a giant’s harp, and we are lullabied home.

For most of what pains us, we need to come Home. We have overstayed in aircon and concrete, listening to jarring sirens and roaring engines.

If you haven’t done this already, I invite you to try. Next time a bird sings near you, pause everything, even if only for a few seconds. Close your eyes, if you like, and bring your attention to where and how the sounds made by the bird move through your body. Play close attention to your mood-state, notice any shifts. Bring your awareness to sensations, even the most subtle. Notice what happens in and around your heart – it’s a physical thing. Give yourself this time as a gift; the gift of discovering how your body is moved by “Green Music”.

And when you notice the living connection between yourself and the birds you hear, what do you suppose that means about us – about who or what we are, where we begin and end?

Birds are joined by the tunes they make. As the sun sets, how do lorikeets so easily and instantly locate their mates in the bustling cacophony of an over-crowded Norfolk Pine? Can we too find ourselves, through these interconnected webs of sound? Is music what holds the universe together?

We’ve been gone from our place in The Great Orchestral Field for too long. So long that we’ve forgotten why we hurt, why we are sick, why we are angry. But perhaps the birds can help sing us home. If we listen.

I would love to hear about you, what bird songs move you the most? How do they affect you? Do you have a special bird anecdote you’d like to share? What do you understand about birds, and what they teach us? I wonder what we might learn from each other’s bird-tales. I invite you to add your voice, friend and reader, below.

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Leaving Sandstone Country – Part 2: The Healing Power of Awe

We parked the van, hid our valuables, did the prerequisite tucking and preening to prepare for our trek, and charged with anticipation made our way to the lookout at the start of the trail. The promise of a big horizon is always an exhilarant. Coffee for the soul.

Staking our claim at the worn guard rail, we jostled uncomfortably with the multilingual others, for a shot at the view. From undulating valleys our eyes hovered over wooded hills, to naked granite bluffs. A gorgeously quenching cascade washes the boulders way below us. But inside me, there is disquiet, not the usual joy I had come to expect in such a place. My head is abuzz with voices, like a busy subway station. “Nice. But it’s nothing like the sandstone from Home.” “Not as beautiful as my mountains”. “Maybe I’m a sandstone tragic!”.

Triggers and past associations, like insect swarms, relentlessly afflict the mind. Scanning the wide panorama from our clifftop, I’m right back at the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, listening to Bellbirds. Algorithms in my brain run instant comparisons; with Govett’s Leap, Evans Lookout, Wentworth Falls, The Three Sisters. I’m missing the majesty of Blue Gums, the familiar brackens that cushion the slopes, the ruby kiss of Waratahs in spring.

I notice there is a kind of nasal tone to that voice in my head. Like the whine of an old engine, clinging to its past. I also notice I am unable to take-in my surroundings. Vision clouded by regret, insecurity.

Sure, I’m enjoying this place, but at best it’s a luke-warm pleasure. A perfunctory appreciation fit for ticking boxes on a tourist trail. As impressive as these walls are, they are made of granite – granite? bah! charcoal and beige. I can’t seem to find a way to give-in to the foreign aesthetic. I can’t relate to this country! My eyes search in vain for the vivid lichens that adorned every bush-rock – sandstone! – back in what used to be my weekend playground.

Soon, I begin to tire of the griping in my head. But I can’t find the ‘off’ button. The creeping idea of trying to ‘be present’ – damn sanctimonious New Age adage! – just rubs me the wrong way. Now I’ve got the pesky inner voices – and the futile battle to shut them up.

Saints and sages from every civilization have grappled with the human striving to quieten the mind, or to ‘live each moment free from the last’ as Neil and Tim Finn would say. So much has been written on the subject, there is a deluge of the stuff. I don’t know about you, but the usual breathy, auto-suggestive tricks don’t do much for me. I failed Eckart Tolle class. I’m the worst kind of dilettante to the Here-and-Now – particularly when I’m in this febrile rush of homesickness. We try so hard to just stop thinking. Say Om. Get into Shavasana. Stare at the mandala. Sometimes, a satori moment does arrive – but only when unexpected. Never through striving.

But what if our state of mind is not only up to us? Could it be that sometimes there is a little help in our surrounds? As I was to see soon afterwards, Nature weaves a profound magic. She does for us what we find hard to do for ourselves.

We walk on. I give up on tangling with unmoving mood and thought, and let my legs take over, as we work our way down winding paths and bush-steps into the gorge below. My inner screen is soon crowded with new experiences. Watching carefully, not to trip. The warmth and strain of physical effort. Breath comes deeper now. Through the occasional break in the canopy, the sting of summer sun on my arms. A buzzing fly. The eyes want to scan for surprises, searching for the owners of some interesting birdcall. Trying to catch a glimpse of what just slithered among the leaf-litter to our right. Whoa, there he is! An enormous and well-fed monitor lizard, fleeing our company.

Soon, a kind of intoxication begins to waft through me. A blessed relief, as little by little, I forget to think. My immediate surroundings have begun to beguile me, an almost imperceptibly subtle act of seduction. One pixel of my attention at a time. Once we’re in the arms of Nature, She will win every time. She wipes clean our mental slate. Matter over Mind.

We turn a corner, deeper into a ravine. Suddenly, a distant and fleeting  sound hinting of water – downslope. The light dims just a little, our skin revelling in the moister air. There is a hush now. We have entered  a magical fernery, guarded by majestic, elvish-looking strangler figs and rows of palms. I give in. The beauty is too compelling. The silence all-enveloping.

I love that moment, when Nature overwhelms our senses. She cancels the inner chatter, overrides memory, imposes Her presence. I can only think of that alchemical  moment as magic. Inside this forest my body is flooded with the pure, animal pleasure of being. The roots of trees are like writhing snakes frozen in time. Ageless epiphytes weave complex tapestries, kaleidoscopic webs, as if Giants had yarn-bombed the trees.

Walking on, we are lulled into a quiet rapture. Refreshed by the cool air. Soon, the approaching roar of water signals we are nearing our destination. The path ends and we find ourselves clambering over rocks, greeted by glistening pools and rivulets. We rest, waiting for a group of fellow pilgrims to pass. When the time is right, we make our way gingerly over a final boulder, and then … wow! We can only gasp. Hinting to its power, it had been growing louder as we approached, and there it finally stands. The mighty waterfall in its full majesty. An imposing, unscalable granite wall staring down at us. A water course lifted on Atlassian shoulders, shunted skyward by ancient tectonics, forever to pour into a dark pond at the base. Are there words for that thrill that rises, when we’re suddenly face-to-face with the forces of Creation; made so small and ephemeral?

Awe: a timeless and borderless human faculty. What is it? When the thing you witness is beyond your containment, outside your understanding. Awe obliterates the ego. It arrives in an instant, through forces beyond our ken. Worries are suspended, as are regrets.

In awe, we are as children before God. Our circuits overloaded, we cease to cope in our ordinary ways. And yet, somewhere in our depths, we drink from this experience like thirsty travellers. When we witness something we cannot comprehend or grasp, we call it miraculous. But what is outside our minds to grasp is precisely what our soul feeds on. The soul craves awe, it demands that our small-self be periodically struck out in this way.

Awe is not a luxury. I think it’s a necessity. We seek it. And like every thrill, we fear it a little. It is the recognition of the uncontrollable, unmeasurable unknown. The Divine shock that draws a ‘Wow!’ from the pit of our bellies, and then … wide-eyed speechlessness.

Awe gives us a welcome reset. As I sit stupefied before this city of stone, I feel myself emptied of the nostalgia that had earlier plagued me. Glorious newness. I may not be home, but maybe I am in some kind of heaven. I am not among the familiar, but I am in amazement. Perhaps this is the very reason I’d felt the call to leave home behind. In search of awe. In search of renewal. I hope the move proves worth the risk.

Awe is a powerful drug. We find it in Nature. In music. In witnessing the Great Phenomena: cellular division, a child being born, the murmuration of birds, a comet, a starry sky.

We concoct so many substances to alter our brain chemistry, desperate to fiddle our hormones, quell our fears, forget our pain, and lift our moods for a day. But these clever substances soon run out, lose their power, make us ill and drive us mad. Addiction for the many: profits for the few.  Could it be that we are an awe-deprived society? Most of us seem comfortable, well-entertained … but perhaps in awe-deficit. Our attentional daily-bread is super-fast paced. Everything in bullet points, sound-bytes and rapid-edits. Intolerant of space and allergic to time, we reach for our smart phones the moment we sit down. It’s astonishing to consider it: the act of waiting has virtually disappeared! Boredom tolerance is at all-time lows.  How often do we walk outside to stare wordlessly at the stars? How often do we sit with eyes closed and listen to entrancing music? How often do we stop doing – and let ourselves be done to by our surroundings?

Awe moments are medicine. We need to take this medicine. We get stuck in grooves and mood stagnations when we go too long without it. Awe is a necessary experience, I believe it’s integral to human wellbeing and health. We shrivel up, become empty, manic and lost without it. When awe has abandoned us, we become disconnected from our deeper selves, distanced from each other and from the non-human world. Perhaps awe-moments should be prescribed, for those of us who fall into awe-deficiency. In fact there are places that do! I think of the practice of ‘forest bathing’ in Japan. Or the doctors in Scotland who have begun prescribing nature walks.

I believe we need regular doses of witnessing what we cannot language or formulate. The automatic, looping part of the mind needs to be periodically undone, dissolved, gently released without resolution. That is what allows joy through. That’s why surfers crave the thrill of fear, faced with swells larger than comfort size. That’s why astronauts risk their lives to see Earth from outside. That’s why we bathe in music that brings us to tears.

At the edge of awe, watch closely: you’ll notice a moment of fear, a micro-moment of resistance and holding on, and then … a surrender. Our muscles let go, and we are flooded. Awe is climactic, it’s overwhelming – and that is precisely why we crave it. It answers the longing for immersion in something larger than our little selves. For some moments we disappear, our thinking shuts down – and that relief is absolutely sublime. A little death. Delicious annihilation.

Knowing that awe can easily undo my stuck mind brings me great comfort. It cleanses habitual anxieties, dissatisfactions, it reframes my perspective. I sure need to be faithful to this elemental need, and to take myself to awe-provoking places. To remember that I need regularly to expose myself to forces stronger than my habitual mental eddies.

Standing before this glorious cataract, though the place is entirely strange to me, I hear a small, far-away voice. It speaks in feelings, not words. It says: ‘Ah, home’. Not at-home, yet, home. Interesting paradox. I’m ready to keep walking.

To my friends and any folks I care about, I would recommend this: when you are feeling down, stuck in a rut, unable to pull yourself out of a self-defeating mind-loop, take yourself to what awes you. Of course, this is not a panacea, a cure-all, nor by any means the only thing that makes a difference. But there are special times when, if you dare to expose yourself to that experience of awe, it re-organises you. It opens your frame. Shows you new options. Settles your soul, even if your world is troubled. Find a dose of awe, whatever that might be for you, and take it regularly.

So: what brings you awe? Do you take yourself to awe-inspiring experiences from time to time? How are you changed by awe afterwards?  I would love to hear your thoughts, feelings and experiences about awe. Jump in!

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