Life is not intentionally painful but instead you create the suffering for yourself. This is my morning reflection as I ponder why my days can feel heavy and laden with obligation, rather than uplifting and joyful. I love what I do, and yet this still happens. The feeling that I should ‘do’ something brings resistance with it, and that resistance in turn creates pain and discontent.
As I write this a squirrel hops across the lawn, clearly enjoying himself! Happiness is a choice, peace is a choice. Our human minds are so caught in the miasma of trauma, tech overload and a culture that’s racing at a million miles an hour, we are unable to pause, take a breath, and see beneath it all that we have a choice.
Slowing down is an art. Paying attention to self is also an art. In a society where your attention is captured and commoditised, we no longer know how to attend to ourselves and deeply pay attention. If we did, we would make changes. We would make different choices.
Living in each moment
Enjoyment and pleasure is always available in every moment. It’s just that we choose something else instead, and most likely have a ‘set point’ or base line that is something different. Fear, scarcity, anger, contraction are examples. When living this experience, it’s hard to imagine something different exists. Yet it does. We are living in the stories in our mind, and they keep us trapped. We replay over and over again in our bodies and energetic fields, the past, and projections of the future that may never come to bear. When we are fully in the present moment all of that fades away. We sink into the pleasure and enjoyment of life that naturally exists. The joy of a blooming flower, the comfort of a warm breeze on your skin. Why should it just be on ‘holiday’ a few times a year that we really get to enjoy life? It shouldn’t, the world is completely backwards.
One of the main reasons we don’t have the experience we desire is because we are resisting being in life. Fully in. Fully feeling everything that is happening in our experience and our body. We have become body phobic, worried that if we feel we might die. This is our resistance to life, to living, and to experiencing our true desires. In order to feel good, we must go through whatever exists in between us and that state. Often that’s the resolution of our pain and trauma, that is stored in our bodies, our thoughts, our energy field. The only way out is through. If you’re not where you want to be, it’s because you’re not prepared to open and fully surrender to what is required - to release and submit to the greater force of life that moves through your body - which will ultimately bring you to wholeness and peace.
Breath is the number one tool that will help you cross the bridge EVERY SINGLE TIME. Your breath is a powerful prayer, one that can be directed to supporting you in releasing whatever no longer serves you, so you can connect deeply to yourself and to life.
Allow yourself to feel
If you run scared of the sensations and feelings in your body, you will become a slave to them. They will keep you stuck, small and suffering, probably in silence. Emotions are not meant to be stuffed down. The energy and sensations that are moving in your body are supposed to do just that - MOVE! When your mind creates a story about the situation, perhaps how it’s ‘bad’ or you’re ‘not allowed’ to express something such as anger for example - those energies turn inwards and create rigidity and blockages in your body. Life stops moving. You become stuck and stagnant. This causes pain and lack of enjoyment. Quite literally the juice is sucked out of life, everything is flat. We feel disconnected and dissatisfied, and nothing will fill that gap - not even our ‘go to’ addictions.
When we go farther along this route we become numb, empty and depressed. Nothing lights us up, there is no hope. Life is happening but it feels like there’s a pane of glass separating us from it. We can’t connect.
Breathwork offers an avenue to close this gap, to come back alive and connect once again with life. With purpose, joy, and excitement. The feelings you regularly experienced as a child before the outside world got its dirty hands on you.
Remember those days? What did you love to do? What lit you up? What would you spend hours doing and never get bored? These are some clues, some breadcrumbs to follow to uncover your path for coming back to life. It’s never too late. Every day is a new day, one to start over if you desire.
It all comes back to your willingness to be in the moment and to be IN life. This is not a dress rehearsal and you won’t get this unique moment back again.
Take a deep breath. Connect with your heart. What will you do to come alive today?
Breathe the change you wish to see in the world.
What struck me this morning in my meditation practice is how easy it is to get stuck in a rut. To roll out of bed, uploading the same programmes of our identity as the day before. Eat, sleep, workout, have sex, watch Netflix, scroll on socials, whatever else it is that you do on the daily, and repeat. Day in day out. Without stopping to question it for a moment.
Well, I guess that’s the point of meditation.
To stop your actions mid process and reflect, and see - hey wait a minute, why am I doing this or that? Does it really serve me? Does it make me happy? Am I even consciously aware of the fact that I’m doing it? Where is this actually taking me? Am I present to what is happening here?
And if I’m honest when I step back and reflect, I’m not. Not always present, more in my head, thinking about something from the past or mentally checking what’s in my agenda for the rest of the day. It takes dedication and commitment to bring your attention back to the moment, and be fully living your life in the here and now. No easy task!
Where your energy flows...
I believe the vast majority of us are living in this state, and it’s no surprise when we are societally conditioned to stay asleep. There is so much data coming at us on any given day, our systems are totally overwhelmed. Rather than malfunction, it’s much easier to zone out and carry on with our autopilot. After all some of those functions serve us really well, like being able to drive a car without thinking about it, or walking down the street to the supermarket. If we had to consciously compute those processes each time, there wouldn’t be much bandwidth left for anything else.
However, this canny ability of our subconscious mind and physical body to automatically carry out many functions on our behalf has serious drawbacks. If we are not paying attention, it will literally be hijacked by someone or something else that is skilful at capturing it.
Where your attention goes, your energy flows.
Which direction are you pointing yours in?
Are you consciously deciding where you spend your time, energy and attention? Or are you on autopilot, and unconsciously stuck in a rut which is draining your very life force away?
Where is your focus?
Let me be honest, staying present and focussed in the here and now is a heroic task. One that I believe we can all benefit immensely from. However, in order to do so we must break our addiction to zoning out and running on autopilot. This will not get us where we want to go. Particularly as most of our actions (estimated 90%) are driven by our subconscious mind, which is build almost exclusively from the material and experiences we ingested before the age of seven. Essentially our subconscious, which is running our day to day lives, is like a small child that’s high on candy. Always flitting between a million things, bouncing off the walls and going around in circles. Our programming is running our lives and we are seldom aware of it.
Furthermore the modern landscape of media bombardment takes advantage of our perpetual state of busyness and overwhelm and sneaks in all kinds of subliminal messaging whilst we’re not paying attention.
Case in point - the Hands. Face. Space. latest mantra of the UK government in the handling of the current crisis. You’ve heard it enough times. You know exactly what it means. That’s precisely how brainwashing works. When you repeat something over and over, it sinks into your subconscious and becomes part of the programme. This is precisely why I avoid absorbing media, you simply don’t know where it’s been 😉
Our subconscious mind provides a fertile soil for thoughts and ideas to grow. However when it is continually polluted with untruths, or old, negative and outdated beliefs, it can turn into an overgrown dangerous jungle which houses critters at every turn.
Instead of cultivating sunflowers, poppies and wild meadows that would make the birds and bees sing, all of a sudden you have the Venus fly trap from the movie Little Shop of Horrors on your hands. Feed me, feed me NOW! As I’ve said before, the minds is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.
Become the master of your mind
I know it may seem out of reach, but I’m here to remind you that your mind really is within your control. It does however take practice and discipline. You must determine which seeds you wish to plant and nurture. I’d suggest going with those that uplift and nourish you, and not the thoughts that bring you down and cause you to shrink.
The subconscious is also a repository for everyone else thoughts and opinions that you valued at some point in time. Mostly from our parents, but also relatives, school teachers, the mean girl at school etc. All of the thoughts and ideas that you have about yourself reside there too. It’s quite a mishmash of stuff, which is why it’s important to do some garden maintenance and begin pulling some of the weeds up at the roots.
By sitting with your thoughts, whether in meditation, breathwork or journaling for example - you can start to see what is deeper beneath the surface. You’ll begin to notice when you’re speaking to yourself in a negative way, or perhaps some habits that you’re continuing with that don’t actually support your growth.
We have become addicted to autopilot in a world which values convenience over integrity. It’s time to wake up and take the action and decisions that support a sustainable and loving future, as individuals and as a collective.
Breathe the change you wish to see in the world.
As I write this my heart is in my throat. I feel exposed and vulnerable. The truth is leadership is far from easy, it’s an ongoing journey of releasing everything you thought you knew, to align to a greater good. One that is sustainable and healthy for all.
5 years ago I had a vision for a business. In a burst of inspiration I quickly put together a presentation and shared it with my ex-boss. (Sidenote: for those of you who are new to my story - 9 months earlier I had quit my successful insurance career for a break and to work out what my purpose was.)
I found myself back in my old office, explaining to Jon Davies about my business vision - that revolved around wellbeing, innovation and change. The energy of the vision was incredibly strong and I knew there was a powerful link between health, stress, and insurance claims.
The name of the business was Versicle.
It was a play on words - virtuous circle - and encapsulated the all round positive benefits that I believed would emanate from what I was proposing. This wasn’t necessarily ‘my’ vision, but what I was shown was ready to come to life. The world was changing and I understood that I had a significant part to play in that shift.
As the presentation ended Jon shared his enthusiasm for my proposal. Then he asked me the question - so how are you going to deliver it? I was stumped. Truth be told I wasn’t sure. It was half baked, even though in my mind it was crystal clear. I just didn’t know what it looked like in the physical - so I wasn’t able to answer the question.
After the meeting I questioned what the hell I was thinking. I’d purposefully left the industry to do something more ‘meaningful’. At that point I wasn’t ready to commit to bringing this huge thing to life.
So I decided to shelve it and carry on with my globe trotting adventures. After all, I didn’t need the money, so why go to the trouble of getting myself embroiled in a new venture that I had no clue about where to start.
The long journey back home
For the next few years I continued to educate myself in many different areas, including breathwork which I had fallen in love with and that was guiding my life in magical ways. I lived in Brazil on and off for a couple of years and learned to speak Portuguese. I taught workshops in Bali, Australia, Mexico and beyond. I met incredible people from all over the world and immersed myself in psychology, healing modalities and understanding human behaviour. I also started my coaching practice Breathworks to share the knowledge I was acquiring and held retreats in the rainforest outside Rio de Janeiro and Bali. I ventured to Costa Rica for deep dives into the mystical and worked teaching breathwork at a legal psychedelic retreat centre in the Netherlands.
Yet all the while this vision stayed with me. It wouldn’t release its grip. It wanted to come to life, and specifically through me. No matter what I did to distract myself from it I couldn’t. After much journeying, last year I found myself back in the UK after 4.5 years living as a global nomad. It felt strange. Same same but different. I had changed so much, learned incredible things, and wondered what was next. I honestly didn’t know.
What I did know was that I had to release all the projects I’d been involved in. Every single thing had to go. My next step was to sit (again) in the void of not knowing and wait to be shown what was next. It was uncomfortable as hell.
For 6 months I went through the deepest transformation yet. Slowly but surely the pieces started to come together. I came out of the wilderness on LinkedIn and posted my first article. It got attention and my old colleagues started asking questions about the work I was doing. Conversations started, which led to meetings, which led to being asked to speak at a conference I previously organised.
When the timing is right
Something incredibly synchronistic and sad happened which confirmed once and for all that I was on the right track. On the same day that I was invited to speak at the conference I found out that one of my dear friends had died. This friend, Francis McGinty, had introduced me to many new concepts in the field of health. He was involved in writing the HSE guidance for Stress Management in the Workplace and we had regular discussions over the years about how our work needed to come together. I was saddened and shocked by his sudden death, yet it galvanised my thinking that it was time for Versicle to come to life. This was in early January 2020, before this whole pandemic business had begun. Health and wellbeing was now firmly on the agenda and people were ready to listen.
But yet again, after the lockdowns began and everyone was focussed on figuring out how to carry on business and survive, I distanced myself from the idea and focussed on my private coaching work and supporting people online who really needed my assistance.
Fast forward a few more months and people in my circle started coming to me and having similar conversations. The world was waking up. People were suffering and needed a different solution. After getting thrown a curve ball, businesses had adapted to survive but that’s all they were doing. The pandemic had presented different more serious challenges than just a virus, instead it capitulated most of the population into deep introspection and questioning.
I feel fortunate to have gone through a similar experience ten years ago when I experienced what could best be described as a quarter life crisis. This had started my awakening journey to deeply question what I was here to do on the planet. 2020 did that for the majority of people I know. As a society we are asking more questions than ever before, as we unravel and try to make sense of the world we currently live in. Let’s face it, not much makes sense right now. I believe that’s because we are going through a shift in the collective consciousness, one which is necessary to wake ourselves up from the destructive amnesia we have been shrouded in. Much is coming to the surface and it is uncomfortable to say the least. Uncertainty and fear abound, and these are the two things that unsettle humans the most. We are in the midst of a rebirth, one that is painful and ugly. Whilst it can feel overwhelming, I do believe the result will be for the greater good - for humanity and the planet on which we live.
Over the past few months I too have been going through a deep process of understanding my role here, and how I can best serve the greater good. Getting my ego and personal identity out of the way has been the main challenge - hence writing this is quite exposing and feels risky and raw. I know that’s my fear mind, and that the medicine I share here gives permission for others to do the same.
The upshot is this - that NOW is the time - the world is ready for this vision. It must come to life.
So Versicle is currently in the process of being born. Like I say, this feels raw and vulnerable to share. Like I’m exposing my ‘baby’ to the world for the first time by writing this. What if I fail, what if people judge me, what if…what if… All the excuses under the sun emerge when my heart and soul are on the line. And I guess that’s where leadership comes in - recognising that it’s my job to steward this thing into existence - in the best way I can.
I am human. I have flaws. Yet I was also born to overcome any challenge and thrive. All of us have that capacity, and it is often fuelled by something greater than ourselves. Something that has a bigger purpose and more meaning than just putting food on the table and a roof over our heads. Understanding what I needed to live a purpose-full life was the quest I embarked upon when I left the insurance industry. To make a difference, to leave a legacy, to create something new that would help humanity grow and evolve.
Welcome to Versicle.
Cultivating organisational health.
More than that - it’s the beginning of a revolution in how we approach health full stop. I believe that healthy people make healthy businesses - where everyone thrives as a result.
What will it be? So many things I often lose count. But as a starter for 10
The list goes on….. it’s a bit like an octopus at this point in time and literally the sky is the limit. At it’s core is about catalysing an evolution in consciousness so we can solve our current planetary problems and support humanity to thrive.
One of the reasons I’ve been avoiding it is because it feels so HUGE. And if I’m honest I know that’s because it IS. It wants to be. I believe it literally has a life of it’s own, and it is here to support us to thrive as individuals and organisations.
In modern business we are overwhelmed by technology. With all the talk of AI, data analytics and automation - where are we considering HI - Human Intelligence? The very valuable thing that powers our businesses in the first place. We must find a healthy sustainable balance between the two - so that technology becomes our helper rather than our master. I see organisations as organisms - and in order to thrive we have to take good care of our organic material - our people.
As is shown by the new cutting edge developments in epigenetics, it’s not just our DNA that affects our health, it is our environment that dictates our destiny. If the culture we live in, both in business and the wider context is unhealthy, then all of us will suffer the negative consequences of that. It is our individual and collective responsibility to create an environment that is sustainable for everyone involved - the people and the planet - for which we depend upon for our very survival.
Creating the connection
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a planet without people. It’s an incredibly lonely place. Imagine there is no planet. Then what even is life? We need to come back to basics - the fundamentals of what makes our existence here meaningful. Connection. People. Love. Nature. All of the things that money can’t buy.
Now more than ever we are seeing the interconnectedness of all things. Whether that’s global supply chains or the impact your presence has on own your children. Everything you do and say has a ripple effect - it all matters. The question is - Are you making it matter? Are you present? Are you fulfilled? Are you embodying the best version of yourself? If not, why not? It’s never too late to start.
At the age of 63 my mother said lockdown is the best thing that ever happened to her. She’s lost 20+ kilos and is training to be a personal trainer. It’s never too late to make a change, to go after your dreams, to lead and inspire in the way that feels expansive and aligned for you.
Likewise lockdown has shown us what really matters. What we care about, what we get out of bed for, what makes us come alive. Everyone has a powerful song to sing. Isn’t it about time you shared your unique voice?
I doubt I’m alone in feeling I’m here to change the world for the better. I’m sure you feel the same way. We don’t all have to do it in the same fashion, or on a grand scale. Reading a bedtime story and being the best parent you can be might be yours, or starting a global movement to educate and inspire people back to health might be mine. It doesn’t matter, there’s no wrong or right. That’s what's beautiful to the human experience - no two are the same - but collectively we create a harmony that is out of this world.
Now is the time
I believe we are at a critical point in our evolution as a species. My hope is that this crisis provides the impetus for us to reconnect with what truly matters and begin to build foundations for a healthy sustainable future.
Personally I feel like the last ten years of my life has made sense over the last two weeks, as if I’ve been playing Tetris and the final blocks have slotted into place. People are arriving that are part of this divine plan which has been so long in the making. Perhaps you are one of them?!
As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. I think 5 years is long enough. It’s go time.
How about you?
Breathe the change you wish to see in the world.