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Do we have a lizard brain?

It’s not your lizard brain – it’s the culture

I’m sick of hearing about the lizard brain.
You know the drill: the seat of our fear. Blah blah. It’s like the ‘sabre tooth tiger’ meme – if I hear yet another personal-development coach talking about how we’re programmed for ‘flight or fight’ because we had to run away from sabre tooth tigers… please spare me your tired metaphors.

The lizard brain is a myth. I don’t mean ‘myth’ in the disparaging sense of a ‘lie’ or ‘delusion’, I mean it in the sense that it is a symbolic story for a cultural paradigm.

Even people whose ideas I respect still fall into the use of this old cliché, without questioning it.

“Your lizard brain is hungry, scared, angry and horny… the lizard brain only wants to eat and be safe… the lizard brain will fight (to the death) if it has to but would rather run away. …the lizard brain cares what everyone else thinks, because status in the tribe is essential to its survival. …Wild animals are wild because the only brain they possess is a lizard brain. The lizard brain is not merely a concept. It’s real, and it’s living on the top of your spine, fighting for your survival. But, of course, survival and success are not the same thing… the lizard brain is the reason you’re afraid… The lizard brain is the source of the resistance.”

Says the otherwise very smart Seth Godin in Linchpin. Not only does he conflate some biological impossibilities in his metaphors (lizards are not tribal, for example), he has fallen prey to the cliché (nice image isn’t it, clichés skulking about looking for people to prey upon?).

In fact, the ‘lizard brain’ is a misnomer, and lumping the amygdala with the lizard brain is a total furphy.

Not only is the amygdala not a lizard brain, the idea that the primitive reptilian brain is nested inside our larger human brain may make for colourful metaphors but it’s also inaccurate.

Scientists come up with theories and these work their way into popular culture where they continue to be presented as a scientific fact even when the original theory has evolved.

“One reason that the triune-brain model has so captured people’s imaginations is that it is so simple and meshes so perfectly with a very old conception of the three basic elements of human nature: will, emotion, and rationality (or, more colorfully, ‘gut, heart, and head’). This model thus posits three brains that emerged in succession in the course of evolution and are now nested one inside the other in the modern human brain: a “reptilian brain” in charge of survival functions, a “limbic brain” in charge of emotions, and the neocortex, in charge of abstract, rational thinking.” (Source)

Ideas about brain modelling have changed and the triune brain is considered out of date. It’s now recognised that reptiles and mammals diverged at some evolutionary point and reptiles developed their own cortex, so they simply have a different brain altogether.

Why does it matter? Am I just being pedantic?

Certainly, myths do not have to follow scientific facts, and even if the original brain model was shaped by cultural notions of human nature isn’t the lizard brain analogy simply making a point that we need to confront our natural tendency to fear in order to live our full life potential? Thus, it’s about the effectiveness of the personal or business coach’s process rather than whether his or her metaphor is actually scientific?

Well, yes, the results are what’s important. However, if you are going to frame method within brain science at least check the science.

But there is a bigger story here that we must challenge: are we really biologically wired for fear?

What if, instead of offering evolutionary leaps, that personal development metaphor is locking people into an old paradigm; adapting them to fit a dysfunctional world view rather than assisting them to transcend it?

So, bear with me as I dismantle this cultural myth of our “hungry, scared, angry” lizard brain, this biological tendency in our animal nature, which we must overcome to be successful humans.

What is the impact of this idea that we, like all other animals, are ‘wired’ for fear and that we must overcome this biological instinct in order to become more successful humans?

There is a direct line from ‘overcoming’ our animal nature to the notion that one must strive to be superior not only to animals but also to other humans.

This idea has been around as long as the concept of ‘civilisation’, and overcoming stuff is entwined with the very human need to be in control.

Our intention to master whatever gets in between us and our ambitions (or threatens our sense of safety) has produced our extraordinary knowledge systems and our technologies. And yet, faith in our superiority and our divine right to exploit any and all resources has long been used to justify the oppression of ‘other’ people (ethnic cleansing, slavery), to create systems that ultimately destroy environments (fossil fuels, pesticides), and to convince ourselves that we can master everything including the weather.

Back in 1852 Herbert Spencer coined the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’. Seven years later Darwin provided the theory that evolved ‘survival of the fittest’ into Social Darwinism, founded on the idea that the biologically superior members of the species will survive. How ‘superior’ is determined depends upon interpretation and cultural bias, but that’s another story. (We saw how effectively Hitler dealt with that one). The theory that evolution is a competition that determines who’s superior conveniently reinforced the accepted social paradigm of the 19th century. It also shaped scientific research, creating a feedback loop that confirmed the social theory!

Thus, progress and, by inference, superiority is all about overcoming that pesky lizard brain.

Fortunately, unless you live in Richard Dawkins’ universe, cultural thought has moved away from its obsession with competition as the basis for evolutionary ‘survival of fittest’. The late 20th century brought a shift in social attitudes and, due to the inevitable feedback loop between science and society, hypotheses about the value of cooperation began finding evidence that cooperation is equally as important for survival. (Could it be that half the story had never been told due to the inherent masculine bias of science? Something to explore another day.)

While nothing in science is ever concluded, at least the research is now taking us beyond the ‘fight or flight’ scenario of ‘survival of the fittest’.

One small but significant shift: researchers now consider the amygdala isn’t simply a threat detector ‘fighting for our survival’. Its function is much less emotionally charged than that:

“The amygdala appears initially to evaluate the relevance of stimuli, and then to tune the individual’s overall cognitive and emotional response.”

When it comes to the way we move through our environment it makes sense that ‘uncertainty is more arousing than what’s familiar’. However, some now argue that the amygdala is alerting us to anything that might be ‘important to furthering one’s goals and motivations’ and this depends on the psychological state of the individual.

The amygdala is not ‘the fear centre’. The amygdala is the part of the brain that sorts ‘different’ from common/ ordinary/ normal. In the face of difference there are more responses than fight or flight, otherwise the human race would never have exited Africa. Curiosity shapes the human as much as fear (and it’s the same for many animals).

If we can watch Attenborough’s plethora of wildlife documentaries without paying too much attention to the survivalist clichés – and making allowance for the artifice of filming documentaries – we can witness the behaviour of animals. Does a gazelle spend all its time examining the environment for lions? And how is it that you can see a combination of animals that would normally be the eaten hanging out around water holes with animals that would normally eat them? I’m not saying they’re socialising together, but I am saying their amygdala hasn’t got them running in the other direction.

Even animals cannot survive in a constant state of fear, for the simple reason that all those functions of the parasympathetic nervous system like digestion and reproduction would just not work, leading to demise of the species. Thus, if life on earth is dependent upon ‘fight or flight’ there’s unlikely to be any life.

Detection of difference is an innate animal instinct. This is the amygdala’s job.
Fear is a response to uncertainty, a recognition of difference, but it doesn’t have to be the only response.

And to what degree is fear primed by culture?

What if this cultural habit we have of always trying to be in control is flooding our amygdala with stress chemicals, sparking fear and suppressing our innate instincts for appropriate action in any given moment?

Because it gets more interesting when research reveals cultural nuance in what activates the amygdala.

While it’s well established that the amygdalas of depressed or anxious people are triggered by negative stimuli, a 2013 study considered whether happy people simply had a less active amygdala because they are less fearful. What researchers found surprised them: happier people showed amygdala response to positive stimuli, but while their amygdala tuned into the positive stimuli this “did not come at the cost of losing sensitivity to the negative”.

In other words, they weren’t happy because they could ignore unpleasant things, but instead their amygdala had a balanced response to both extremes.

The researchers propose that instead of focusing entirely on avoiding personal harm, the amygdala is involved in empathetic response as it’s also activated by seeing others in need.

This suggests that our amygdala is primed by our psychological state, and how can we separate our mental or emotional state from our cultural milieu?

Neuroscience labels a person’s capacity to regulate their emotional reactions as their ‘affective style’ and considers it a combination of nature and nurture. And if the role of the amygdala is simply to help us know what signals to pay attention to this makes it a neutral observer, that is then overlaid with cultural patterning.

This is not to say that babies are born as blank slates with neutral amygdalas. It’s much more complex than that with an unborn child already affected by layers of cultural practices, as well as environmental and social conditions, which humans may or may not be able to control.

Levels of anxiety can be ramped up by the in-utero experience, which is intimately linked to their mother’s environment, her psyche and her social situation. Even the grandparents’ experiences affect the baby’s gene expression through epigenetics. And recent microbiome research tells us that before we’re born our mother’s microbial world is already impacting our emotional or mental propensities, which are entwined in multiple ways, with these microbes through our gut-brain axis and neuro-biology, (amygdala included).

We also can’t discount medical-cultural practices that affect the microbiome, the chemical body burden of living in toxic environments, and the stress of trauma or unjust social systems.

Fear is not a biological imperative, it’s a cultural zeitgeist.

Fear is a secondary response, not an automatic primal response to a changing environment.

The amygdala looks for the unfamiliar in the environment, and it’s believed that it then checks in with memory to determine action. The response is mediated by the neurotransmitters already circulating through our system, and thus can’t be divorced from our general state of mind. As mentioned this could involve stress reactions from not feeling in control, canny assessments of opportunities, and compassionate consideration for the needs of others. And the activation involves more than visual cues, including information from other senses and underlying intuitive responses beyond our logical mind.

The amygdala is intricately connected into the larger awareness of brain, body and environment, and it’s responses are intimately related to our psychic-emotive state and our life experience .

Children raised in some indigenous Amazonian tribes self-learn not to put their fingers in the fire through a natural combination of curiosity and awareness. Such ‘laxness’ would be considered severe neglect in our society where we’re constantly protecting children from their own curiosity.

In his book The Healing Wisdom of Africa, Malidoma Somé makes this point:

“… the inability to perceive, the inability to understand, to indigenous people is symptomatic of an illness. If your psyche is disordered or deficient or overcharged, blocks are created in you that prevent comprehension and remembering…Another form of this illness is the inability to accept of even tolerate those who are different from us. Worse, this inability encourages suspicion, fear, and resentment. Thus, it is an illness of the collective psyche when different cultures don’t understand one another.”

Our history has many stories of what happened when Europeans encountered other cultures. These encounters between very different people didn’t always play out as conflict, but most of them did. From the conquistadors seeking gold in the Americas to slave labour for sugar, to grasslands for cattle, European ingenuity required the oppression of other cultures that were often times regarded with disdain and fear.

Looking back at this behaviour now, it’s hard not to see how the cultural, religious and commercial justifications of superiority reveal an illness in the collective psyche.

Economic systems that thrive on dominance and control of ‘resources’ create societies focused on competition – and a pervasive sense of not having enough (money, possessions, health, love). That certainly primes our amygdalas for fear!

“Uncertainty is more arousing than what’s familiar,” but the way our individual psyche deals with uncertainty is connected to our cultural training.

A healthy response to uncertainty involves dismantling a culture based on fear, and its deep roots in our psyche.

Thus, focusing on our own joyfulness and contentment may be a grassroots way to effect cultural change – in addition to all the other health benefits it offers.

As simplistic as this sounds,  the most important clue offered by new insights into the amygdala: the more present we are in the moment, and the more we generally feel content with ourselves, the more likely our response to uncertainty and difference will be curiosity and openness instead of fear.

And the more likely our healthy instincts will lead us to the best response.

So, let’s see ‘fight or flight’ biological essentialism for what it is: survivalist propaganda that encourages a certain type of cultural zeitgeist – by which I mean it was an idea that captured the imaginations of cultural thought-leaders of the 19th and 20th century. It not only created the evolutionary biology paradigm, it shaped the story of progress.

And from there it captured the imagination of an already very fearful (unequal, unjust and warlike) society, and the rest is history. Leading all the way to where we are today.

It’s time to move on from this story.

The infinite dance of dynamic equilibrium

Balance. Now there’s a thing to contemplate. We keep talking about a need for more balance in our lives as we feel flung this way and that by demands, obligations, the unexpected and the unplanned.

Underneath all the noise of busy modern lives, our bodies know that we need balance.

We feel it like a quiet craving. It manifests as a creeping sense of unease in the midst of the storm of stuff we deal with daily. And we then read this as fear and anxiety, when it’s simply a need for peace and quiet.

If we ignore that craving for too long it becomes, literally, disease. For example, there’s more than enough research showing how imbalances of vital nutrients, or gut bacteria, in our bodies lead to inflammation and illness.

Our bodies have an innate wisdom, also found in all biological systems, which is simply the continual practice of restoring balance.

This is known as homeostasis, a natural ‘law’ that appears in all biological systems and cellular life. ‘Homois’ (Greek) means ‘like’ (as in ‘similar’) + stasis means state, so the suggestion is that the biological urge is to always return to a similar state. The implication is that this urge to return to homeostasis is simple and basic. In other words, more like an automatic reaction than an intelligent response to circumstances.

However, our bodies are complex systems of 40 trillion cells, situated within the complexities of social systems and the natural world. Ultimately we cannot draw clear lines of distinction between microbes, cells, cultural stories, or the weather.

This makes simplistic mechanistic concepts like homeostasis redundant.

When something has been acted upon, when it has become entangled with whatever else has entered the field, it cannot return to the similar state that it was in before this change. Clearly neither our bodies nor the natural world operate this way. What interrupted balance must now be assimilated or incorporated or transformed. (Even elimination is an act of transformation – energy doesn’t simply ‘disappear’.)

The system will never be the ‘same way’ twice. Like the old adage about not being able to step in the same river. Change is the only constant. There would be no evolution if return to stasis was nature’s basic response in the face of change.

I prefer to think of this natural seeking of balance as dynamic equilibrium.

Homeostasis is a misnomer. Balance is not a place or a state we get to, it’s the ability to sustain the continual movement back and forth between polarities and not get stuck in one side or the other. Our bodies restore balance through the perpetual motion of our heart’s beat, through the constant birth and death of cells.

This natural intelligence within offers a wisdom we can apply to our lives.


The Infinity symbol
Dynamic Equilibrium is perfectly expressed in the symbol for ‘infinity’.


The concept of homeostasis underpins our belief that health is a ‘state’, a perfect place of ease and wellbeing. But while it’s one that is possible to attain, it’s impossible to maintain!

Simply because of that one constant: change.

Instead, health and wellbeing, ease and balance are found in how we participate in the infinite dance of energy, re-finding centre through continual motion.

This infinite looping also expresses a basic law of how energy is created through a chicken-or-egg dance between electricity and magnetism. The core of the earth is a giant magnet, the rotation of the earth produces electricity – and one cannot happen without the other. The same electricity is foundational to our life. Electrical impulses initiate our first embryonic heartbeat, and underpin the functions of our neurons.

This vital energy of life in our cells, and in the farthest stretches of space is in a dynamic equilibrium. We won’t ever arrive at a state of perfect balance because there isn’t one – so we may as well enjoy the ride!

Unsplash image by Rokslana Zasiadko

Read this next time you’re longing to feel beautiful

Are you beautiful? Do you find that a provocative question? Perhaps it hits a nerve that has you listing the ways that you’re not, yet, beautiful. Or perhaps you shy back due to modesty…

We don’t go about openly declaring ourselves beautiful in this culture. And yet we’re obsessed by it!

It’s difficult not to be obsessed considering that we’ve been indoctrinated from a young age, even if simply from watching movies and music videos.

As a maker of jewellery, and a first-house-Venus-in-Taurus, beauty has always held a certain prominence for me. And yet, like many, at the same time I crave beauty, I’ve also felt there was something self-indulgent, frivolous and ultimately irrelevant about it.

But then I started to dig into why beauty is high on my list of values. So I decided to do this series of explorations on beauty and what it really means…

What if beauty is not what you think it is?

Do you recognise that deep longing for beauty that you can feel in your heart and your belly? Do you crave beauty and yet sometimes have this jealousy, this feeling that sneaks up on you, that it’s something ‘out there’ that other women have but not you?

Are you the kind of woman who gets caught in comparisons? Not enough of this, too much of that? I know I am. It’s hard not to in this society where everywhere we turn we see a parade of Hollywood beauties, airbrushed to perfection – or the ‘ugly’ counterpart much used by checkout magazines splashing pics of ‘stars without their make-up’ across their covers.

Remarkably, I notice that whenever I read one of those mags (and only because I’ve been waiting too long at the doctor’s surgery and I’m desperately bored), I feel drained of my energy. Robbed of it, in fact.

And this drained feeling comes from the simple truth that these magazines are stealing my beauty by making it impossible. Since I can only ever be myself, not some copy of a celebrity or supermodel.

What are you allowing to steal your beauty?

In modern times it’s easy to believe that beauty is about a narrow range of visual criteria, because way too much energy is spent trying to convince us of this fact in order to sell us a product or service!

And thus we’ve been trained to forget what beauty really is. We mistake beauty for appearance, or rather we think beauty is in how we appear, when it’s actually an energy.

This is why we can meet people who have perfect faces and bodies, and yet something feels like it’s missing. This seemingly perfect beauty is an artifice.
It’s beauty that does not believe itself because the woman (or man) is not connected to that intangible vitality that energises her from within.

This isn’t just an experience we have with people either. Although the “beauty” industry works very hard to suppress our natural and uncanny ability to detect when something is ‘all surface and no substance’.

Beauty is the vitalising energy of life pulsating through us.

And it’s an energy that can be ‘stolen’… or more precisely it’s an energy that can be diverted or suppressed.

For example, whenever you look in a mirror and critique yourself for not meeting beauty standards, you’re giving away a little of your life energy to some social dictate about what beauty is supposed to look like.

It’s the same when you’re ogling makeup displays in department stores, or poring over the images of Vogue, and you feel this ache for the possibilities promised.

In each of these actions, beyond, around, behind envy is that little delicious scent of potentiality. When we pause a moment to recognise that sensation we’re seeking, when we really feel into the potency of beauty, we get to claim it for ourselves.

Because it doesn’t live in magazines or products, it lives within  our own vitality.

So even if you’re struggling to see it in yourself – or most importantly when you’re struggling to see it in the mirror – seek it not in magazines and advertisements.
Look for it in life. In gardens and galleries, in pets and sunsets.

Just because it seems to be ‘outside’ you doesn’t mean it’s not yours to experience. Beauty is not something we can own. And it’s ironic that the billion dollar industry so effectively keeps us chasing the possibility of it, by promising we can own it via a particular product. Even as we know this beauty is never permanent!

We can’t own it and it’s not permanent, but not because someone else has what we don’t, or time and age take it away from us – but because we can’t own an energy.

You can’t own vitality. You have to let it flow through you if you want the experience of it.

The ancient Greeks thought of the beauty we see as a manifestation of some ideal ‘off-world’ pure essence. But beauty is not abstraction, it’s of-this-world, available through the deeply embodied experience of life pulsating through us – in response to the vitality of a flower, or the energetic presence of the artist in an artwork.

Or the clear expression of our own real-ness in a world accustomed to artifice.


Unsplash image by Rokslana Zasladko


Beauty is an experience of energy, not a specific thing.

If you want to feel beautiful than dip into your own vital life force and feel it express through you. In laughter, or sadness, or calm. In all its forms.

Every time you see something that is naturally beautiful – flower or sunset, kitten or baby – it’s because there is a pure energy expressing through these.
Accept that energy as a gift, letting it enter your senses, feeling it infuse your body with whatever ‘feel-good’ chemicals that happiness and awe and joy evoke (and there are a bunch of neurotransmitters connected to these experiences).

And then just let that sensation fuel your own beauty, your own deep and vital essence.

Receive the beauty the world is offering everyday. This most simple of actions fuels your own beauty.

Some days you may have to ‘work’ on seeking it out, especially in a chaotic, cacophonous modern city. But whether it means flowers that make your heart sing, or a delicious fabric that enlivens your senses, or the taste of something amazing, let it all in.

Get excited about being alive. Because this increases your reserves of beauty.

And we need to continually replenish these in a world that seems constantly at work attempting to steal the beauty that we naturally have.

Stop hoping for that “One Defining Moment”

“If it would only take one word, perhaps one wise phrase to make us change, heaven would be easy to reach, here on earth.”**

How often have we heard the story that every transformational book, every life-coach loves to tell? That one moment when something clicked and everything changed. The lightning flash of enlightenment that comes from reading a phrase, a sudden revelation while in a state of crisis, or an epiphany in the midst of some everyday activity. And this defined THE moment when they were on the path that lead to success, and the realisation of dreams.

Everyone loves a miracle. I’ve done my share of chasing after them, listening to those lectures, reading those books, waiting for it to happen to me.

But wherever I look, there I am – and where are the miracles that just don’t seem to be happening?

But the real truth is that I’m sitting in the midst of continual miracle making – an aggregation of moments.

There is no single defining moment – we are actually in the midst of making miracles all the time.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had revelations that changed my world. Eye-opening or gob-smacking or rapturous moments.

But what followed on from there? It wasn’t that everything suddenly got easier. It wasn’t that one decision, one insight changed everything else. Did that mean I was some kind of idiot who just didn’t get it???


The truth is, these stories of Defining Moments are simply a dramatic device. It’s the archetypal hero’s adventure. 
Everyone loves a hero, or wants to be one. Hollywood and transformational coaches have taken up where myth-telling round the fire left off.

A sudden message or a stroke of synchronous luck, that culminates in a turning point from which you (the hero of the tale) never look back but surge ever onwards, no longer daunted, or taunted by demons.


This is the story transformational coaches love to tell, standing on stages in front of hundreds. I’ve fallen for this stuff, dreamed of having such a transformative experience, the moment that makes all the difference.


When I recognised they’re just retelling the ‘hero’s journey’ it became clear that it’s all just ‘backtelling’. Telling the story with the hindsight that helps us pick through the plethora of our lives and pluck out The One Defining Moment.

The key. The singular revelation that has made all the difference.

‘From that point on I stared success in the eye, and I became a winner.’


When I look back at my life for that crux point, I can’t pick just one. Does that mean I haven’t had a big enough revelation?

Instead what I see is a collection of revelatory ideas, experiences, feelings – small, almost insignificant, large and loud – all of them building on what’s gone before, and each slightly morphing and reshaping the others as I go along. Outside that reality trick that tells us time flows in a straight line, how can I untangle these moments from each other?

It’s not that One Thing breaks through, it’s that I never could have known or experienced ‘this’ if I hadn’t known or experienced ‘that’.


Let’s be clear that this story of the One Defining Moment is just a myth.

Which is not to say it’s untrue. It is simply the format of an archetypal story that snatches our imagination and carries us along on a wave of entheos – all infused with divine hope.


The reality is much more prosaic. It’s an accumulation of wisdom, an aggregate of revelations each building on what already exists. We don’t need to have that old-testament-style blinding flash so we finally wake up to our own wisdom and divine guidance.

If you haven’t had that One yet, it’s OK. You still know where you’re going, you’re still being guided. You’re not forsaken. Even your current crap-storm is not something working against you. You don’t have to solve a series of life issues and problems in order to be more ‘ready’ for the One Defining Moment.

This One Defining moment of the hero’s journey is simply an effective symbol of the overcoming of fear. But the overcoming doesn’t happen in the instant.

Maybe it’s true for some people that their fear is overcome in a flash, just as the Archangel Michael slays the Dragon.
Let me know in the comments if that’s the case for you…

I reckon the act of ‘slaying the demons’, however inspiring the story, isn’t the moment when everything changes.

For the vast majority of us it’s incremental steps, it’s recognition put into practice, evaluated and tweaked and practiced again.
One step after another. It’s the ‘chop wood, carry water’.

It just doesn’t make inspiring copy.

Don’t fall for the rhetoric that you need that Moment. In the midst of preparing ourselves for that One we’re not seeing the aggregate of moments, all those minor revelations and miracles which bless – and direct – our life every day.

We simply have to look for them in the dross. Because there’s not One Moment, there’s many.

(**these are the opening words of a song by my gorgeous and wise husband… who like you is a channel helping others recognise they are also channels.)

Zodiac illustration of Aries

What astrology has taught me

I first discovered astrology at a time in my life when I was stuck.
For one, my obsessive desire to be a successful artist seemed to have run aground and I wondered was the Universe working against me? Was I just unlucky? Or just plain ‘not good enough’? Was it a sign that this wasn’t meant to be?

Can you relate to that kind of situation where it feels like an uphill battle and things we have no control over keep blocking the path?

Ah, such a human dilemma! As a species we’ve been chasing that elusive control over our fate since the time before time. Whether it involved inspecting the entrails of chickens, or visiting the priestesses at Delphi for some incomprehensible gibberish, we’ve pursued this hope that if we could just unravel the signs they would reveal the secrets of what the gods had in store for us.

Astrology provided fuel for my obsession to decode the mystery of who I am. (Notice this theme of obsession running through my oeuvre?? And yep, it can be seen in my astro-chart). I’ve always felt different – you know, the weird kid at school, the oddball who didn’t know how to do things right – and I desperately wanted that difference to make me distinctive, instead of a victim of ‘not good enough’.

So initially, like many others, I was drawn by astrology’s promise to reveal destiny.
And I had really high hopes of what I would find – although I confess I was a bit disappointed. It felt like Alice’s rabbit hole and I could keep digging forever without finding definitive ‘answers’…

Now, 20 years later, and with the comforting retrospection that only time affords, I recognise that astrology doesn’t hold all the answers, but it does give us the ability to develop tremendously useful wisdom of the most practical kind.

In fact, there are 4 very useful things that astrology has taught me.

1. Perspective.

Or what I like to think is ‘the God’s-eye view’ – that view from a great height or depth or distance.

What the soul knows that the brain doesn’t.

When we understand how certain qualities we possess create our expectations of what we’ll meet in the world, we can cultivate the ability to ‘step outside’ of the frame and get that ‘big picture’ view.

Astrology gives me perspective on how I ‘operate’ – not only my character traits, but also what my soul is learning in this lifetime.

Ironically, I only developed perspective after I stopped relying on astrology for all the answers to even the little things. Because astrology’s greatest promise is to be a map for the soul, and maps give us a perspective we don’t have when we’re on the ground with the road in front of us. That’s why I refer to the astrology sessions I offer as soul-mapping.

If we start to believe astrology offers all the answers we lose the ability to access the truth it really does offer.

So now I think of our charts as our own personal sacred geometry, a map we can use to navigate life.

Capricorn and Sagittarius
from: Constellations of the Zodiac, Atlas Maritimus by John Seller, 1679

2. Compassion.

With perspective comes compassion. Too often in the age of psychiatry we’re fond of blaming others (especially mum or dad) for our foibles and failings.

Astrology shows me I’m not a victim, and what I’ve experienced is what my soul expected to experience.

It also shows what’s to be learned through having that experience.

I can’t tell you how huge a leap this enables. It helps move me move through resentment and blame, even in the most challenging experiences.
And so perspective has helped me cultivate compassion – for myself, for my parents, or for anyone who’s presented me with challenges  – in way that is completely natural, not forced or obliged.

3. What to do when things get challenging.

Perspective and compassion underpin the ability to know when to act and when to wait patiently. (Or in my case, as a rampant Aries, how to learn patience!)

Astrology not only reveals where I need to be paying attention when the proverbial hits the fan, but also the nature of a challenge – and it’s ‘reason’.

It provides the shortest route to the heart of the matter.
And shows how this challenge fits into the much larger play of time, and my own personal mythology unfolding over a lifespan. It’s even possible to see where it fits the collective challenge of a generation or an era.

4. Repetition is necessary

And in respect to the ‘play of time’ – do you find yourself still doing things that you think you should be over by now? Like perhaps you’re always ‘choosing the wrong man’. Or you could be in a work situation and suddenly feel like you’re reacting in a way that takes you straight back to some high-school horror story…

We think we should be past that by now, but repetition doesn’t mean you’re stupid and you’ve learned nothing.

Astrology has helped me to be OK with repetition because I recognise that when I’m repeating myself it just shows where I’m not really awake yet to what I’m supposed to be learning about this particular theme that keeps recurring in my life.

So that means I really know I’ve ‘got it’ when I don’t repeat it anymore. And maybe that’ll be never!!


Aries the ram
from: Constellations of the Zodiac, Atlas Maritimus by John Seller, 1679


Essentially, astrology shows me a more wholistic picture of who I am, and how to be more of me – to accept myself as I am.
It helps me get comfortable with being both the shadows and the light.

I don’t need to ‘overcome’ some bits of me in order to be a better human.
Because in every quality there is an advantage and a hindrance.

Of course developing the above skills doesn’t mean life is easy… but it sure makes it easier to deal with.

(P.S. If you want to know more about my astrology technique check out the Body + Soul Code sessions.)

But you ARE your body. Here’s why.

I’ve heard a few people comment lately, following a period of challenging illness, that in the end they discover they are not their bodies.

They are something more transcendental, more unfettered and free.

I always feel a visceral reaction to statements like this. Maybe it’s the Taurean archetype coming out…
While I get what they are saying – we are a soul that lasts beyond the mortal flesh and so forth – to me there is something fundamentally wrong with this attitude.

Think I’m being a materialist here? Maybe I am, just not in the way you are imagining it…

It’s in moments of illness and suffering that we get to feel completely alone.

And we mistakenly think that being ‘trapped’ in an individual body is the reason we are alone, because we really crave the connection, the sense of belonging, the feeling of oneness with a divine source that we know is the cure for any dis-ease.

I say ‘mistakenly think’ because this is a social training. It sneaks in as we are learning how to speak, and as we grow older it becomes more and more the way we think about ourselves – isolated entities, separated into our own individual bodies.

While this appears to be true on the surface (according to visual logic), it’s patently not true on any kind of fundamental level. Molecules, cells, the colonies of bacteria and parasites in our bellies and on our skin, all ensure we are always multiples, never singular.

Each of our cells is a tiny intelligent system, banding together with every other cell to create an “I”.

This apparently singular body is actually composed of trillions.

And do we end at the edges of our skin? It’s a big question, just the kind I like to get lost in.
But don’t worry – I’ll stick to the point.

Which, succinctly, is that when we blithely mouth the cliché ‘you are not your body’ we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater, exacerbating, even perpetuating the split between body and mind, body and spirit.
It’s a dangerous attitude. And sooo old school.

If you’re having a hate relationship with your body – stop!

If you think you have to control your body – stop!

In fact, you are your body, and your body is also so much more than what you think it is.

Your body is a vehicle for soul, sure. But it’s not like getting in your car & driving somewhere.

Our soul (and mind, for those who feel a little uncomfortable with soul stuff) completely permeates our body.
It lives in every cell & molecule. Yep, mind also lives in the body. It doesn’t depart until you die, when everything breaks down & recycles into new form.

When people say “I realise I am not my body” what they are really trying to say is:
‘I realise I am not the body that has been proscribed by medicine, and materialism, and prudish Christians…”.

And what they have actually realised is that they are not what is represented by the concept of ‘body’.

This is the difference between the representation (what we think it is: the concept of ‘body’), and the reality – what is real, what exists despite and outside of the understandings given to us by society, by medicine, or by spiritual systems.

So the problem is not our bodies, per se, the problem is what we think our bodies are…

Because whether we think that the body is the limits of the self, or whether we think that our bodies trap us in a world of matter and separate us from spirit, these are simply ideas we have about bodies.
This holds true whether we’re talking the ideas that science has about bodies, or what spiritual disciplines tell us about bodies.

When we say “I am not my body” we are really trying to escape the constrictions and limitations in our own thinking.

May as well say “I am not my mind”.

So, if you think your body is a dumb lump of flesh, that’s just a concept you learnt somewhere. It ain’t the truth.

We wouldn’t even be able to have a concept about a divine life, or a dull life, without our body.
Any inspiration, or pleasure, any intelligence of any kind comes through perception.
This is the ability of your brilliant physical form to pick up transmissions and translate them from the imperceptible to the tangible.

Beauty, joy, love, all are found in form. And only possible by living it.

The physical body does not make us separate from the great divine web of life – it is our ticket to this glorious event.

Don’t try to get out of your body – try to escape your narrow concept of self.

Your mind is actually your problem, not your body.

The Solstice Gateway

[this post relates to the astrological phenomena of Uranus square Pluto that was active from 2013 to 2015. What happened then is still relevant now].

There’s a revolution underway.
Can you feel it – the pressure of forces beyond our control?

If it’s something you sense, it’s likely that the Uranus/Pluto square has laid siege to some of your personal planets…

Those with birthdays in early April, July, October and January know what I mean.

And for any of you with planets in the mid degrees of the cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn), Uranus and Pluto have been playing rough on your turf too.

Pluto moves with tectonic slowness.
It unearths the deep psycho-social forces that underwrite human lives.
Its urge is to break down, to split apart the old and the outworn (ideas, behaviours, realities). Things past their use-by-date.

Not destruction merely for the sake of it, but as a necessary natural force, using this energy of entropy to generate new life. Just as soils are made fecund, and seeds are sprouted by the action of earthworms in shit and decay.

Pluto could take 20 years to move us through this elemental regeneration.

Until Uranus steps into the mix, says ‘ready or not’, lights the fuse.

Pressure builds to critical, forces beyond our control push us forward, outward, in any direction.

Even though we want this revolution, because we know it’s the fast track to that re-formation we’re craving, still we respond with fear and resistance.

It’s been going on for a while in fact. Since June 2012, the revolutionary forces have been stirring up the safety and security of position ‘normal’ (if there ever was such a thing).

Seven times they’re squaring off, over a span of years. Not that it’s been a non-stop ride since 2012 – there’ve been months of respite when we get to relax and take in the view.

Even to touch, for long moments, those potentials that we feel coming into form.


This week we’ve entered the 6th pass of Uranus square Pluto.

We approach the seventh and final gate in March 2015.

Seven is a curious and unruly number, a prime number (in other words, indivisible).

Not comforting like 6 or 8 which make perfect structures, complete unto themselves.

Apparently, when we’re asked to ‘pick a number between 1 and 10’, the majority of us choose the number 7.

The number has always seemed a little mystical to me. I once made a rather complicated contraption called the Gyromancer with seven rings, one inside the other, all about the revelatory qualities of the number 7.

Seven is the number of process.
The steps towards a goal, where each stage is a challenge that reveals a little more of what needs to be known by the seeker.

Seven is the number of initiation.
Salome removes her 7 veils of illusion, Ishtar passes through 7 gates on her descent into hell to rescue her son-lover.

(A quick aside: this holy incest is not some archaic paedophilic fantasy but rather a symbol of the mysterious and mystical union of creator and creation).

Lately, as the 6th gate approached I’ve been feeling the pressure rising again. Off kilter, out of balance, in my pushing to complete everything before I could start a new year…

While I’m in the thick of pushing to get things done, pushing through difficult moments, it just feels like I am up against an immense and resisting force. Rather like being under siege.

Until I sit back and realise that I am the resistance.

Out there fighting on the frontiers (of my own mind). Recognising that I have fallen back into old patterns. Of using work to feel deserving.
Of trying to control everything by working on it.

It’s the classic response – we cling to the old ways and habits, even if we actually can’t stand them anymore. Because at least they’re ‘comfortable’, and safe. We know them, and when we know something we can feel like we’re in control. Even if it makes us feel slightly ‘mangled’. That’s the funny thing about addictive habits.

Then this week the harmonic balancer in my car’s engine broke. Haha – how’s that for a cosmic joke – a serving of Jungian co-incidence?

The 6th gate was exact on the 15th when a crazed gunman trapped 17 people in a chocolate cafe, dubbed #SydneySiege.
A harrowing event that lead to the sudden deaths of two people in addition to the self-styled revolutionary with the shotgun.

Then days later in Cairns, eight children are inexplicably murdered – perhaps by the very woman who cared for them, in a Medea-like slaying of all that is dear to her.

The gate remains open until the Solstice on Monday the 22nd (AEDT), when there is a conflagration of cosmic events.

Uranus goes direct (the revolution goes full steam ahead).

The moon starts its new year cycle, in rare coincidence with the solstice.

And the sun basks a moment in its longest day (on our side of the world) before turning around and heading north again on its next cycle.

Hanukkah completes, Christmas looms.

All of these events are only significant from our earthly human point of view, of course.

The sun does not go round the earth, the retrograde motion of planets is only apparent to the human eye. Even the cycle of the moon is a symbolic construction.

Yet they’re also perceptible. We experience them.

We’ll notice our days getting shorter and the angle of the sun will change (my good washing days when the sun fills the whole of the back-yard are on the wan). The moon will slowly light up the night sky to it’s fullest over the next few weeks.

And the real power of any act of transformation or revolution occurs on both the perceptible and symbolic level.

Media whipped up a frenzy of fear post the Sydney Siege. Yet, people responded with so many flowers that florists sold out, and the tweet phenomena #IllRideWithYou went round the world.

It appears that still the revolution will not be televised. Only the fear of change gets air-time.

Each day we make a choice about the meaning we give to what we perceive.
To the information coming in, to the emotions we wake up with, to the events which carry us through the day.

Yesterday, I just happened to be listening to a podcast by Walter Makichen, a podcast so ancient it was from 2008 but I hadn’t heard til now. More Jungian coincidence.

I was musing on his theory of 4 levels of spiritual practice.

The first level is when we find a way to make sense and meaning from collapse and chaos – religion, or yoga (real yoga not that stretching at the gym), or meditation, etc – whatever your flavour.

Then it can become a tool for clearing out the karmic dross of psychological wounding; for calming the mind and heart.

After this we discover that spirit is in the creative act, and we begin to understand the power we have to generate our own reality, to bring things into being.

The trouble is that we can get stuck there, and forget that the source of creativity is that energy which is so much greater than ourselves.
We think we can control everything, we get caught up in hubris ( I love that word – the arrogance that challenges the Gods, to which the only antidote is humility).

Walter describes the 4th level as transcendence, the moment when we step out of trying to control everything and we just let it be.

I have an issue with the concept of transcendence – I’m sure we can still be on and of this planet without getting caught up in that particular human need to identify with what gets created, and destroyed.

Instead I prefer to think of this level as what Tosha Silver describes as ‘offering’.

It’s the handing over. It’s surrender.

Not a very appreciated quality in our culture. Suggesting loss and failure.

And so we struggle to find a way to win the revolution, not realising that we’re buying into the very mindset that we are fighting to bring down.
And, ironically, the fate of most revolutions is to replace the ousted oppressor with another form of oppression.

This morning I realised that when I surrender, the revolution is truly underway because the struggle, the resistance is over.
Blockages fall away. The wheel turns.

So this solstice I’m ready to drop another veil, to burn what needs to be burnt, to open up to the future.

I’m asking myself: what revolutionary act, or thought, or feeling, do I want to make a reality, today?

And you, what is your solstice act of release? How are you answering the challenges of the 6th gatekeeper?

7 steps to creating an intentional jewel

The power of your intentions.

One of my favourite books The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggart, is an in-depth study of just how much of a difference intention can make.

It’s a fascinating read if you want to know the science of it – i.e. randomised control experiments which have been happening for many years in various Universities and Labs. You just don’t hear so much about this as it’s all a little bit hard for mainstream thinking to get its collective head around!

The observer changes the result.

Quantum physics has been telling us this for years. Yes, I know physicists among you will say that what happens in the quantum level of particles doesn’t happen in the actual world of complex matter.
But perhaps it does, and it’s just all about how we are looking at reality.

Anyway, this post is not intended to be a dissertation on the general consensus of ‘what is reality’. Let’s talk about that another day…

Here, I’m interested in your reality – and how you are creating and sustaining it on a daily basis with what you believe, and what you intend.

So what is an intentional jewel?

Jewellery has a very ancient history of being used intentionally.
A wedding ring is the most obvious example. With it we declare our intention to commit to another.

Then there’s amulets and talismans which go back to pre-history. And before Lord of The Rings there was many a story and folktale of magical jewels with all kinds of healing or protective properties. You’d have already heard about different attributes of various gemstones, and their purported effects.

Jewellery can also contain desires and intentions for the one who owns it.
It holds these rather like ever-present memories.

The jewel (and it’s meaning) can be subtle and private, or a very public display transforming you into something more than your everyday self.
I think that jewellery’s intimacy with us gives it a special advantage – sometimes familiar enough to feel a part of our body, it takes on our warmth, it breathes with us. It works for us.

We all have days when we’re unmotivated, dispirited, anxious, lacking focus. On those days, you can slip on your intentional jewel and you’re reminded of what you’re here to do – or be.

I’ve always been fascinated by the somewhat magical properties of jewels, so I decided to harness this fascination, pair it with a bit of doctor-ish research, and add a touch of playfulness.

Thus the EnerJewels collection was born.

EnerJewels are intentional jewels. While they work with inherent qualities and properties of materials, and also use symbolism, this is only the first step in creating an intentional jewel.

The rest, you see, is up to you.

‘Loading’ the jewel with your intention is a DIY process, but I thought I’d give you some pointers…

7 steps to an intentional jewel:

1. Get clear on what you want.
Remember it’s not about things, events, or other people’s behaviour. It’s about how you want to feel.

Look at the desired goal and then dig down to find out how having this will make you feel – this is your real aim, and the only way manifestation can work.

This exercise of finding out how you want to feel can be quite eye-opening. How many times have you achieved a goal only to feel unsatisfied? Makes you wonder if you really know what you want… but I bet you do know how you want to feel.

Separate the goal of ‘things’ out from how being that, or having that, would make you feel. Whatever comes through, make the feeling your focus.

2. Be able to envision it as if it were real.
Not just envision – embody, which means bringing all the senses into play.

What does it smell like? What does it feel like? What is the texture, the shape of it? What can you hear people saying to you?

Do what’s necessary to get clarity – write it down, imagine living it with all your senses.

Know the experience. FEEL IT.

3. Find the jewel. Or let the jewel find you.
Do some research into gemstones and their properties, or go out shopping.

Or be awake to visions you might have. Perhaps it’s a particular symbol that’s calling you. Maybe it’s a particular material  – a gemstone, a river rock you found. Anything that you’d like to wear.

Trust that once you go looking for it, it will come to you – it will be put in your way.

4. Clean and clear the jewel.
If you are seeking an intentional piece of jewellery, you’re already aware or at least suspect that it can carry your energy.

If it carries energy, it’s already carrying it from wherever it’s been previously – the hands it’s passed through, or the way that it was taken from the ground. If it’s a second-hand piece of jewellery this is particularly important.

Cleansing and clearing doesn’t have to be elaborate – start with the intention to clean and clear, then take the action. If you’re inspired to do something in particular, do it.

If not, use the tried and tested approaches such as:
A salt water bath (providing the material won’t be affected), or simply running water from a tap or a spring. Some like to place their piece in the light of the full moon.

5. Create an anchoring ritual.
Why a ritual? Rituals are actions (they can be habitual but they don’t have to be) that are designed to bring you, jewel and environment into alignment.

What does that mean? Maybe you’re thinking this sounds weird – how do you ‘align’ with your environment?

Think about it as being ‘in accord’. Accord is harmony and coherence.
One way to be in harmony with your environment is to set up your environment in a way that feels harmonious to you.

Since you want to evoke a specific emotion, which you will anchor into the jewel, set it up by using particular objects, times of the day or cycles of the moon. Ultimately it’s your choice, and by becoming bodyful (more consciously embodied) you will be able to make those choices easily.

(I’ll be talking more about bodyfulness, or rituals in this blog – so stick around.)

Here’s a suggestion for an intention anchoring ritual:
Condition your space. Emotions, aesthetics, music, dance, poetry are all acts to condition a space.

Place flowers, beautiful fabrics or objects in the space – or choose a space outdoors that has it’s own beauty and power.

Or create an altar on which you arrange special, meaningful, or sacred objects and images.

The idea is to evoke in yourself the sensations that you intend to experience in the future, when you wear the jewel. This may require meditation, or particularly inspiring music.

In the ritual process put on your jewel, and incorporate the way it feels into your emotional state – in other words be aware of it – touch or hold it.

If your intention is something very practical, such as focus then it’s probably enough to condition yourself through some kind of action – like your morning exercise ritual, or any situation you go into that you already feel focused.

Can’t think of anything for setting focus? Next time you’re doing a disciplined activity that needs focus, wear your jewel. Notice how it feels to be focused while holding and bringing your attention to how the jewel is feeling on your body as you wear it.

On a practical level you are creating a connection between your awareness of experiencing that emotion (focus, brilliance, valuable-ness etc) and the piece of jewellery you can also feel yourself wearing.

You are forming neurological connections between these experiences of wearing, and the experience you desire to have.

6. Keep your intentional jewel in a special place.
If you have an altar you may want to keep it there. Don’t let it hang with your other run-of-the-mill jewels!

Continue to condition your jewel by wearing it. Not every day (unless of course it’s meant to be never taken off like a wedding ring).

Wear it when you want to evoke that emotion.

Say you want to evoke brilliance, just before a difficult meeting, or a challenging phone call. Take a nice relaxed belly breath,  hold the jewel, or touch it in some way so that you notice it, and then evoke that feeling of being brilliant, which you intend to make a regular integrated part of your life.

7. Embodying your intention is a practice.
Continue to condition your jewel regularly through focusing energy on it, meditating and envisioning yourself feeling that feeling, doing what you want or need to do to cultivate that feeling in your life.

And condition the space it lives in (through offerings of fresh flowers, good thoughts, affirmations etc).

Although we may think that the thing we desire (love, abundance, brilliance etc) is something we lack, it’s important to remember that if you desire something, you already recognise what it is like to experience that desire.

At sometime you have already felt like that, otherwise you could not desire it.  And if you have any inkling of what it’s like, it’s possible to re-capture that feeling. Those pathways are already laid down, neurologically speaking.

In the way that every skill is learned through practice, a regular practice of evoking the sensation you seek through some kind of ritual, or through use of music, for example – or simply by recognising and acknowledging when you feel that way – uses those pathways again.

The more you use them, the easier it gets to evoke that experience again and again.

When you have a great experience and you’re wearing the jewel, condition it again by holding it while you absolutely enjoy that sensation, acknowledge it and indulge yourself in it. This is your power to create your own reality.

And if you have a negative experience that seems to hang around the piece and not dissipate, clean it again and re-condition it through steps 4 to 7.


Most of all – love your jewel, admire it’s beauty, and enjoy wearing it.

Over time when you put it on you will feel it as a somewhat magical experience.

You will feel how the jewel helps you in loving yourself and in becoming so much more the person you want to be.

Want to know more about intentional objects? Feeling skeptical, or doubtful about it’s effects?

I like to approach the intentional jewel from a holistic point of view – from the historical, the magical, the bodyful, the aesthetic and artful, and yes, including the rational and intellectual.
Keep visiting me here to find out more.

Does the body get in the way of mindfulness?

Back in 2009 when I was a phd student, and exploring the science of consciousness, I put myself forth as a guinea pig for several experiments conducted by other students at the Institution I attended.
Electrodes on the head while staring at computer screens, that kind of thing.

One particularly memorable experiment involved a study into mindfulness.

It all began on a dark night in fluorescent lit, windowless room deep in the bowels of the Psychology department.

We (me and a dozen others) hooked ourselves up to some computers. It struck me that there was nothing natural in this room except human flesh (by which I mean, nothing that is self-creating or self-regenerating – just steel and polymers and glass, a cacophony of cables, and melamine tables, plastic moulded chairs, etc).
And there I was squeezed in front of a computer screen, while the bulbous back of another old-fashioned behemoth beamed its photons into my spine.
Even the air was fake.

I was at that particularly sensitive stage we women enter, just prior to our metaphorical new moon, the onset of our menses. A stage that has, as we know, been much maligned and feared as a time of dark and threatening feminine irrationality! In truth it’s just a time of deepened sensitivity that, when not acknowledged, turns into monsters.

There, in a plastic land vitalised by a cacophony of EM fields, windowless, fresh-airless, I was already feeling pretty weird.

Add to that an hour of staring at the screen doing all kinds of boring tests measuring my attention and awareness, and I was properly screwy.

To complete the exercise, the coordinator took me into another room, sat me in front of a video camera and asked me to unscramble a bunch of letters to make words. While being recorded for observational purposes.

I looked at the gibberish of letters and burst into tears. Flustered, she informed me, that the camera was just pretending. And the words were too – they didn’t spell anything! Basically it was to measure my calmness under pressure. (Giant Fail!)
She didn’t know what else to do with me. Essentially I had wasted her time.

I was the glitch in the stats. Later when I spoke to a psychology professor about it he explained that aberrations like myself are averaged out by the sheer volume of people included in the study. That’s how the making of stats works.

This is what happens when an idea (or experience) must become a theory to be proved through factual ‘observations’. In order to be accepted as medically viable.

An averaging out. A negation of the influence of hormones, and plastic, and EM fields, on the mind.

In this way mindfulness can be quantified, when it is in fact a quality.

Is mindfulness the ignoring of external stimuli, or internal stimuli complaining quite clearly that something is bad for us?
Seemed to me this giant experiment, in it’s search for proof, had missed the point.

I was left with the feeling that all of these studies on mindfulness were fundamentally flawed. They pretended the body had nothing to do with it. Its role in the story could be ‘averaged out’.

Does anyone else smell a decoy here?

This is the problem of the ‘universal body’ we find in medicine. This is the challenge of every family doctor who must balance their collated medical facts with the panopoly of life that comes through their doors.

Perhaps I felt slighted because ultimately my contribution to the study of mindfulness (which I was all in favour of, from the outset) was reduced to naught.

And, being in the control group, I didn’t even get to experience its benefits.

Although, something did come through to me very clearly.
In the measure of mindfulness, my body was an interference.

But does my body get in the way of mindfulness? I wondered.

And I felt resistance. I didn’t believe it.
You know that expression ‘ever fibre of my being screamed “no”’?
Well that’s how I felt.
My fibrous, material, body-self refused to accept that picture of the world.
That tired old paradigm where our body is an impediment to mind, to wisdom, and to spirit.

Ever since then I’ve been on a mission to champion bodyfulness.
And to expose mindfulness as simply a rather misguided remnant of a frayed and decaying worldview that has reached its use-by-date.

Curious? Consider that them thar’s fightin’ words?
Stick around I’ll tell you more about what I’ve uncovered…

Why you don’t want to be right

Saturn is currently marching through Scorpio [that’s if you’re reading this before October 2015!]– and all you Scorps with birthdays in mid-November are you feeling the pressure?

Scorpio is always about lessons in power. Both clean and dirty. And Saturn can be so righteous.

I’ve been getting lots of little messages about rightness and righteousness (bad for the heart – but more on that another day) – and the fine line between them.

About being the one who’s right, or who has the right to do stuff (unimpeded).

We are, of course, in this society, finely attuned to looking out for the congruence between power and rightness. You know the drill – we see it enough in the overblown verbiage of politicians. Even the most reasonable of people can be prone to respect rightness and give in to its domineering nature.

I want to call rightness out for the tyrant it is.

Even while I know it’s a slave master (I’m a recovering perfectionist), like everyone, I love the easy currency of it. We are sucked into it’s simple promises.

We say: “You’re right about that” and “I have the right to do it”.

When everything’s alright we can breathe a sigh of relief and settle down securely.

And what about being present, is it really about being ‘right here, right now’?

I say that if we are to break the spell we need to find new ways to express what we really want to be saying.

And yet how else can we talk about these things and still communicate our assured sense that there is something here that works, that is appropriate, that fits, that is in every way what we describe as ‘right’?

being all right

I’m constantly looking for alternative ways to talk about getting stuff ‘right’. And its damned tough call. Sometimes I just give in and say ‘right’, after all, its easier to talk about it like that and everyone understands what I mean. My nearest and dearest are always getting frustrated by my need to pull words apart to examine the bones of how we think.

I reckon that if we recognise how much words shape our thinking we are halfway to changing the world.

I’m not just talking NLP here. I’m talking about fundamental structures in Western thought that are never challenged.

Like the fact that white people do not exist. (Sorry, but if you’re someone who’s been labeling yourself that way, go put on a white shirt and take a good look in the mirror. What colour are you, really?) Hey, I’m not saying White Privilege does not exist – it does. But it’s because we invented the idea that there is such a thing as White people. Really we’re all shades of browns, and if our language actually recognised that this means our society would know it, and we probably wouldn’t be in this mess we’re in about Rights and righteousness.

Then again, human nature seems to like getting caught up in rightness, so we probably would have created others ways to divide and categorise and privilege.

English is a pretty amazing language. Evocative, dextrous, adaptive.

This makes sense because it’s a fairly recent advance in the technology that is language. It’s a hybrid language, a mongrel with too many bloodlines. Which is why we have such silly spelling conundrums, like threw and through, and rough and though, and, how do you even say ‘slough’? …. Well, you get the picture.

So back to rightness.
Sometime ago, in the early days of my philosophical journey, I learnt that there was even a bias in left and right. To be left-handed is not only to struggle with scissors and power tools. It’s to be left behind, and to never be right.

When we head on back to Latin it’s the difference between the sinister and the dextrous. Lefties are not to be trusted. The righteousness of one’s position gives authority, especially for those on the right-hand side of God.

I realised that being right, and doing right is part of this tyranny of perfection.

Because of course, nothing is ever all right, or it’s decidedly out of balance.
So why do we keep wanting to be alright? Can’t we just talk about this in another way and make things easier for everybody?

I propose we think a bit more like Spanish speakers about this matter. When it comes to being in the present moment, Spanish has a much more precise description – ahora mismo literally says ‘now the same’. This same ‘now’ is the ever-present moment.

No need for ‘right now’, or ‘left behind’.

Aaaaah, is the sound of my sigh of relief, no-one being judged right or wrong for being out of time!

Instead of declaring ‘you’re right’ when someone utters a thought that we feel the correctness of, in Spanish you can say ‘de acuerdo’ – meaning ‘I’m in accord with you’. A synching of minds. How much sweeter and more easeful that sounds than ‘you’re right’, or ‘that’s right!’

Of course it relates to our expression ‘I agree’, and yet it’s subtly different.
Maybe because in saying ‘de acuerdo’ you don’t need this dominant capital “I”, centre of the individual universe. (However, the dominance of the “I” in English is, like righteous indignation, another story for another day).

‘Accord’ stems from the Latin root cor & cordis meaning heart.
In accord is the in-synch of a heartbeat. Harmony and coherence.

When de acuerdo we are simply in synch with another.
No-one has to be right, we simply have to be in accord, in balance. To fit together.

This is as fine a balancing act as maintaining the space between left and right, to be sure, but the subtle undertones of constant judgement are no longer hanging around like a bad smell.

I don’t want things to be ‘alright with the world’.
I want to be in accord, in harmony and coherence. It’s a much more relaxing way to think about how I’m going through my day. And how I’m feeling ahora mismo.

Who else wants to join me in a world where everything doesn’t have to be all right?