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Recently I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the dynamic of Co-Creation. We are, after all at that incredible time of year Imbolc, stirrings and spring, fertility. Everything is beginning to stir and that energy to move forward and manifest one’s dreams, goals or passions is once again rising. Ever since shifting out of the corporate career world and finding myself developing a spiritual / healing practice, it has been a constant learning curve of how to develop my own skills, follow a more spiritual way of life, while still meeting the material needs of a physical life.
I have found myself having to look closer and closer at the dynamic of what is often termed a “Spiritual Business”. The two terms for many, including myself, hold that diametrically opposed charge. After all being Spiritual broadly means coming from a place of love, giving and altruism; guided by some form higher vibration, consciousness, presence or heart centre; while business means just making money. Whatever you do, however, you do it – you make money. This requires goals, drive, marketing, selling and some kind of persuasion to purchase. Here comes the rub, if you are operating from a truly altruistic place, guided by spirit alone you cannot be driven by predetermined goals or inappropriately persuading people to purchase something that they either do not need or is inappropriate for them just to meet a sales target.
Funnily enough this is only a “rub” if you are operating from a place where there is some level of ok-ness about being unethical because it’s just business. Which is probably something we have got so used to in our daily lives, we now assume this is part of business. It does not have to be and frankly if you are operating an ethical business, marketing is much more about communicating well what you are offering in terms of your products or services. You sell to those who actually will benefit from your products or services and seek to source from ethical suppliers. All business have their plans, goals and targets, however, if a market is under producing you look into why, not force them to simply work harder. An honest look into it, may reveal important information about where the business actually needs to be going, either new areas to be developed or old ones that have run their course and need to be dropped for a while. This means that rather than going down the route of hard sell, squeeze out the competitor, you are rather widening the offering to the consumer.
When we are working from a place of spiritual guidance or altruism there is always the intension to provide the best regardless of profit. Often if you are listening to this, although sometimes what happens moment to moment might seem to make “poor business sense” it is actually providing the “best customer service possible”. It is coming from a place of really listening to what the “customer is seeking” and being totally honest whether they are going to find it with you or not. This guidance and decision is made from a place that is free from the constraints of goals and profits and to be truly spiritual must remain so.
The beauty is that when something is done from a place of joy and love and with expert insight, the product or service is then unique, high quality and ever evolving. This energy charge obeys or rather echos the principles of laws of attraction and positive creativity. It does though mean working with a certain light of foot and hand, while being always true to high level of intent and integrity not completely tied by formular or routine. Plus what it actually does; rather than business making things “un-spiritual”, it potentially challenges business to operate more ethically.
So where does competition fit into all of this? In life we all go through certain training and while we come out with our own take on it, there is still a point where we overlap or work in the same industry or offer similar services or products as another. So often we are taught to compete, to be better than another or take the competition out. In other words engage in a very aggressive approach. This approach has lead to so much damage and under valuing of natural resources and of human lives all in the name of productivity and market share. What if actually this was not what competition was about? What if it was actually about a much more subtle form of betterment and creativity?
Geoff Mulgan writes about it in his book “The Locust and the Bee”, where he explores the different dynamics of Capitalism, how it has the potential to create a free creative market rather than an aggressive consuming monster. This also came out during a one day workshop I recently attended about running a Spiritual Business. What’s become clear to me is that it is a choice we all have to face within ourselves as creatives, consumers, and business owners or even employees, do we work from a place of co-creation or aggressive competition?
Co-creation takes certain qualities which often makes us feel vulnerable – we have to be, to a certain extent open and honest and from this there is immediately the requirement of a certain level of trust and faith with those that we are working with. It also often leaves us open to criticism, ridicule, and exposure of the very areas we are “not very good at”. Thing is it’s also a very brave place to operate from. The areas “we are not very good at” otherwise lurk in the dark corners, almost haunting us, forcing us to act from a place fear and defense. Surely that is just as painful as risking a certain level of trust and faith in another. Another we can choose whether we open up to or not. Don’t forget those who betray us, it is not about us being naïve, it is rather about their own inability to be trusted that is exposed.
The definition of Co-creation is “a management initiative, or form of economic strategy, that brings different parties together (for instance, a company and a group of customers), in order to jointly produce a mutually valued outcome.
Co-created value arises in the form of personalized, unique experiences for the customer (value-in-use) and ongoing revenue, learning and enhanced market performance drivers for the firm (loyalty, relationships, customer word of mouth). Value is co-created with customers if and when a customer is able to personalize his or her experience using a firm’s product-service proposition – in the lifetime of its use – to a level that is best suited to get his or her job(s) or tasks done and which allows the firm to derive greater value from its product-service investment in the form of new knowledge, higher revenues/profitability and/or superior brand value/loyalty.” Wikipedia.
Just imagine for one moment a world where business operates from a place of integrity, good intention and co-creation? Wow! The Ego-Macho pasturing of the likes of the ‘Trumps’ of this world would be given little space, as they rely on setting one off against the other and therefore would find no place at a table where genuine Sustainable Co-creation was manifesting.
Seeing the new Star Trek film coming out, celebrating 50 years of Star Trek reminded me of those cyber space and sci-fi films of the 1960s – 1970s, used to watch as a kid. Have to say I preferred their ingeniousness to some of the smash and battle of many of the other films that have emerged since. They were all totally obsessed with gismos and technology and this was all just as our current digital age was frankly being born. Growing up through the 1970’s and 80’s really we saw the birth of the digital age, where we moved from an age of mechanics and electronics into digital technology. Computers became common place and now we don’t just grab our keys and wallet before leaving the house, it is also the mobile phone. It too is now a key part of our functioning in the outside world, or feeling safe.
Looking back at these old films where technology and gismos were the dream of tomorrow, it’s clear that in many ways we are now living that tomorrow, to a lesser or greater extent. The interesting part is that in many ways this wasn’t the desire or the dream of many, yet it has now shaped many of our lives and how we live in our society on a daily basis. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing can be frankly debated for a very long time and that’s not really what this short article is about. Like most things in life and certainly true of any tool or power, it just is, it’s what one does with it that matters.
One thing it does demonstrate beautifully, is that everything we have starts with an idea, an intent, a point of inception. Somethings then work and somethings don’t; as the techno graveyard of failed gismos are testament to. Asking these questions opens up another angle, which is how much do we actually end up living a life that is actually founded on or shaped by someone else’s dream? There are many people out there that don’t like or are fearful of technology, or have sensitivity to the electromagnetic smog. We still don’t really know what the effect of all of this “stuff” actually has on us or the planet, yet we continue to jump to the shout of “PROGRESS” as we seem to progress further and further away from a people served society to self-serving techno machine society. Is this really where we want to progress to? Is this what you want? Who dreamed up this type of society anyway? It’s certainly convenient that many tasks and jobs are done by machines, as we constantly get told humans are open to making mistakes. Well computers and technology are open to malfunctions, anomalies, hacking, etc, too. Yet in modern society we are seemingly dragged further and further down the path of barcoding, swipe, pat, touch screen, auto phone through and on-line registration for issue resolution. It’s like a techno bubble is being built between the customer or service user and the business or service provider. Whether this is your dream of an ideal society or not – you’re in it (if you live in the industrialised part of the world).
Our lives are dreamed into being, right from when we are small, we have our dreams, or our parents have dreams for us, or our communities have dreams about who we are or the roles we should take up. In all of this as an individual it’s quite a job to work out for oneself what it is that you’re actually here to do and then how to go about it. At this point, this is where your own dream comes into play.
Question is how much though is that dream already shaped by your own experiences and aspirations that have been fed to you since you were tiny? Answer; Probably quite a bit. Is there any surprise then when people get disillusioned or frustrated or dulled by what they actually find themselves doing? Perhaps part of this is not because of the individuals failings or the faults of society or that they weren’t given a break; perhaps it’s simply because they are not really living their own dream but one that’s been carefully crafted and shaped for them that they can conveniently fit into. Or not, as some find.
This is where meditation and plant consciousness and dream work is so beautiful, because it can enable an individual to peel back these layers and rediscover their own authentic self so that they can find where they fit, what their true passion is, what is their divine link and place in this lifetime. To quote Mandy Hale;
“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong”.
Alongside continuing with journeying, meditation, and Reiki including Reiki drumming; this year I was introduced to Mugwort which is an ancient medicinal plant known for it’s cleansing, midwifery, protective and dream qualities. It is a beautiful wild plant which is grounding, protective, clearing, re-aligning, aiding digestion, great for all sorts of “female” issue problems including PMS (NOT to be used during pregnancy; known use for birth inducing), as well helping sleep and dream states. It also has a great quality, when invited, to help one see through falseness and illusion to reinstate honest and loving relationships with oneself and others.
So as we progress forwards with this digital age, perhaps it is worth stopping and turning
to the oldest and wisest of our teachers here on Earth – Nature herself, to seek out as an individual what our genuine dream and loving truth is. Often we have to go deeper to find our own truth, and that requires us going deeper than what is on offer on the surface or what we have been told. After all it would be a shame to be dragged into living a dream that wasn’t your own and was thereby just someone else’s illusion.
It’s been really interesting watching the explosion of Mindfulness over the last few years, I don’t know about Mindfulness it’s been almost mind dazzling! it’s gone from the book on the self-help bookshelf and week-end workshop, to the workplace, the school, even into mainstream health care including the NHS and Parliament.
So what is it? It is, according to a recent report by the BBC, defined as the following –
“ The word “mindfulness” seems to be everywhere. Parliament has even started using it. But what is it?
To many people, mindfulness just means “the state or quality of being mindful”. That’s the first definition the Oxford English Dictionary lists.
But the second meaning of the word, taken from Buddhist philosophies, is proliferating rapidly. Search Amazon’s book section and you’ll see many titles about mindfulness and how to get it. A quick search of a database of British newspapers shows that in April 2004 it was mentioned just twice. In April this year, the figure was 150.
This other definition of mindfulness is “with reference to yoga philosophy and Buddhism: the meditative state of being both fully aware of the moment and of being self-conscious of and attentive to this awareness; a state of intense concentration on one’s own thought processes; self-awareness”.
A part of BBC News Magazine, Who, What, Why? aims to answer questions behind the headlines But the dictionary also notes that the term is “in weakened use”. It’s been diluted from its origins to now encompass all manner of meditation techniques, treatments for daily stress, even ways to lose weight. The word is everywhere. An all-party parliamentary group on mindfulness will be launched on 7 May, city workers are said to be adopting it and even theNHS offers information about how to practise it.”
I first came across Mindfulness in my teenage years through some simple Yoga introductory practice, but honestly didn’t know it as such back then. I then came across it through some basic “Learn how to meditate” classes in the 1990’s when I was living in Cambridge and then explored it more deeply as part of my Shamanic Training, which to be fair was based a lot on the Toaist philosophies and traditions. I have to say at this point just to be clear, I have always remained rather on the Spiritual as opposed to the Religious path. For further clarity it is important to also note that Mindfulness as it is generally written about and taught in the west for use in the workplace, schools and health system is totally stripped of any religious biased and is totally about simply centring the mind and body to relieve stress and to become present in the moment.
More recently I’ve found myself giving short talks and exercises as part of evening workshops or groups. For me it is the heart and the tip of the iceberg of meditation. It is the place of being and learning to be present. It is the place to let go, to stop, to ground, to be and to centre. In our seemingly frenetic modern lifestyles it is becoming more and more essential to embrace this practice.
I was shown to me by life and frankly quite brutally, that when we are not centred, when we don’t stop, when we aren’t present or cannot just be, we cannot then do, discern, choose, stand firm or act. It is one of these amazing dynamics of life that if we are not still at times then our movement becomes unbalanced. It is in many ways our night to our day, our inner to our outer.
For some reason this stillness and this being and this inner work has been something that has if not actively then certainly steadily been discouraged from our western societies for a long-time. Too much focus placed on the outer world and its appearances, our outward achievements and standing. This imbalance in many ways has caused a lot of stress, destruction and misuse of resources and in some cases caused illness. So perhaps it’s not so surprising that now the balance has to be restored and this simple, not to be confused with easy, practice of Mindfulness is becoming so popular.
As with everything that becomes popular or a household term there are always those for whom it does not work or has caused difficulties, this is natural as we are all unique. There have been accounts about how Mindfulness where it has been apparently detrimental or has actually caused people to become unstable in someway. There have been reports were people have found they have begun to feel too zoned out, suffered panic attacks, depression or traumatic memories from their childhood return following a Mindfulness course or session.
Speaking from personal experience, it is true that these practices open us up to ourselves and sometimes the effects can be traumatic and life changing. It is essential that if this happens, the process is held and what is coming up is embraced and understood rather than run from or shut down. It is importantly to understand that it is not necessarily the meditation itself that is at fault but it is actually simply allowing space for what was already stored within us to surface. If it hadn’t come out in this way, then it would surely come out in some other way in that person’s life. In many ways by having these issues, whatever they are come to the surface in this way it is an opportunity for the person to fully face them and move beyond them.
None of us ever choose to be ill, or at least we don’t choose it consciously. So when either illness comes or uncomfortable emotions are stirred we are unlikely to welcome them and we are even less likely to want to make time for them; or have to change our way of life for them. However, if you ever find yourself as the “unfortunate few” where this does occur for you, here are some basic pointers you may find helpful;
Mindfulness is all about being present, centred and in the body. If any of us is struggling with that, it is because there is something getting in the way, that something needs to be understood and then it can be let go of or addressed. We can shift from habitual reacting to pro-active living.
“Breathing in I establish myself in the present moment. Breathing out I know that this is a wonderful moment”. Thich Nhat Hanh.
Thich Nhat Hanh, writes beautifully about the power of the present moment, for this is all we truly have at any one time, in his book “The Power of Now”.
Above all, be gentle and kind with yourself, but don’t run and hide. Be honest and be courageous, this is about you getting to know you, to centre in being you and can help you let go of the internal “rubbish”, so you can be a clearer and brighter you!
The numerological number for this year is 8, while the 9 Star Ki number is 3 and with these numbers comes a particularly strong energy for manifestation and change. That being the case, it’s actually a great time to act on your dreams and bring them into fruition, whether that is making a start on them through taking a course or working on them on a part-time basis or even commiting fully to a new line of work or way of life. I find this interesting especially as there has been in recent years so much about The power of Attraction and Mindfullness. These two things have really become very dominant throughout the world of wellbeing, personal development and now they are the buzz words even in business. However, much which is written and sold around the subject of “The power of Attraction” in the mainstream still seems very focussed on money and material possessions rather than actual personal or society growth and healing which is required for it to really be transformative. Yet whenever the question is asked of people what do you truly want to see in the world? More often than not the answers will come back of; love, kindness, healing, peace, clean and healthy environment. I witnessed this first hand just recently at a short open workshop held at “Peace in the Park”, hosted by The Brahma Kumaris World Spirtitual University
It was an open day with people from all walks of life and beliefs, thereby bringing quite a diverse audience together. The workshop subject was about “Imagining the world”, we were taken through some short and gentle writing exercises to see what would emerge from the sub-concious about the world we want to live in. It was amazing to hear how little there was about money and possessions and how much there was about simply living together and in harmony with the planet. Of course you could argue that such views are bound to be held by people who are attending such an event. However, I witnessed something very similar a few years ago at a Sustainable Building Fair and that audience was attending that event generally to seek out business ideas and opportunities. On that occasion during a session about “Sustainable Thinking” when a free thought exercise was facilitated with the audience, they were asked: What kind of qualities might a Sustainable World have? The words that stood out at that time were once again words like: kindness, acceptance, compassion, love, care, respect, harmony with nature. Sometimes this seems a very long way away from what is often witnessed in the world today through the news and the state of environmental degradation. However, as I sat the other day with this diverse group attending a short and simple workshop, it was plain to see that the capacity for just such a world exists, here and now today. It heartened me and deepened the sense that clearly each and everyone of us have the innate capacity to enable such a world if we choose to do so.
This is of course where Mindfullness and the “Power of Now”, really comes into it’s own. By centering in our trueselves and letting go of the noise of the external, we can once again connect with our own heart centered stillness and peace. Eckhart Tolle writes about this beautifully in his book “The Power of Now”. What happens though if what we see manifesting in our own lives is not what we wanted or what we thought we had intended? Well usually there’s a lesson in there, a chance to grow, or there’s something we have not let go of, or we have been asking questions which have lead us down a different path or reaffirming the very things we didn’t want. It is important when using affirmations to use positive language, what you really are requesting and letting go of language such as: not, won’t, should, could. Apparently our brains have a tendancy to skip over the “not” and go straight to issue, and thereby we often end up reaffirming the very things we would like to be free of. I have to say that this recently has got me to wonder what might happen if sayings such as “Money rules the world”, “The money talks” were dropped from our vocabluary and were rather replaced with ones such as “A little kindness costs nothing and goes a long way”, “kindess and compassion are the oil in the wheels of daily life”, “time and quality go hand in hand”, or some such affirmations that speak to your inner heart. Perhaps, give it a go, see what happens, see how it shifts priorities and the focus of things.
Friday we welcome our Blue Moon of 2015, with it, it rides on a beautiful wave of Aquarius, Venus and Uranus energy . It is full of loving, transformative and manifesting energy. Enjoy bathing in her clear silvery light to gain inner clarity.
Understanding, facing and releasing one’s past has always played a key part in therapy . There seems to be lots of very confusing messages about how the past can or cannot help us in developing a better way of living today. Some say the past must be faced, understood, released or accepted to bring peace to a person. Others focus on the present as being the most important and that it is far more important to focus on the today on the Present. So does the Past even have any relevance for us in our daily lives?
Toaist philosophy seems to put it most succinctly in identifying that the past has brought one to where one is today; the present is the only thing we have any direct control over; and the future is welcomed in by the present.
So what is the thinking about the past and the therapeutic approaches? Broadly there is;
So where does that leave us between these messages which seem to contradict each other, broadly boiling down to two broad scenarios of either forget your past, it no longer matters, be empowered now to move into a brighter future; or until you release your pain you will be held by your past and cannot be fully in present and therefore can’t embrace your future.
Although these may seem confusing and conflicting messages, I have found from both personal experience and that of others these different approaches all have their important role to play in helping a person heal and come to terms with difficulties in their lives. There is no doubt that past events can have a significant impact on our behaviour and well-being. Identifying these and understanding them and releasing them from our mental and emotional being can have a profound effect on improving a person’s well-being.
What I have experienced is that by releasing pain, past injury and getting to a place of forgiveness and peace is not done just through mental thought processes or pills. It has to be from one’s very core, physical, energetic and soul core, for healing to be complete. Only then will health, freedom, detachment and wholeness be once again be restored.
Dadi Janki writes about forgiveness in her delightful book “Wings of Soul”. She says that to forgive you have to forget and that to forget you actually have to first remember. It is in the remembering and asking, why am I still held in this moment, what is it that still holds me here you can start to let go and start to forget. Personally I have found the Shamanic techniques particularly powerful for this type of work.
So how does mindfulness assertions that it is only today that matters; and the affirmations to not let the past rule one, because it is just that, the past, fit into all of this?
Mindfulness practice and other similar meditation techniques are incredibly powerful at retraining our minds away from churning over what has been, they enable us to centre and be clear, be really present in the now and thereby make discerning decisions about how we want to move into the future. It is a key mind-set for anyone either battling with issues from their past, with current worries, undergoing or having completed therapies which have worked on facing and releasing their past. Why? Because it helps us learn, retrain and retain new patterns of thought and behaviour, so we can truly change our lives from the inside out.
So if Mindfulness and similar mental disciplines are so powerful, do we actually need to delve into our past? Sometimes YES, so we can actively cut ourselves free from the emotional “ball and chain”.
To conclude, yes there are clearly two broad schools of therapy with regards the importance of “the past” – one states only now is important; while the other states we need to face and come to peace with our closet skeletons. Are they at odds? No – they work hand in hand to ensure those “skeletons” are not pulling on your hand as you walk into your future.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.”