Psychic work and mediumship are regarded with such suspicion and disrespect in our western culture. I find this really sad because for indigenous people and for those who follow pagan, shamanic and mystical traditions connecting with the spirit world is a fundamental part of their spiritual practice. However, it’s interesting how many people are now turning to the writings of great seers and esoteric teachers such as Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, Alice Bailey and Delores Cannon, all of whom worked with the spirit world and foretold a time around the 2020s when our known world would undergo drastic changes; humanity would be faced with a choice of either resisting these changes or moving into a higher consciousness.Continue reading “‘I look at myself as just the instrument – I’m the channel.’”
I am thoroughly fed up with the negative news and social media agendas that are bombarding us from all directions twenty-four hours a day. I realise that we are facing massive global and climatic challenges and changes but it is well recognised by psychologists that continual pessimism kills a person’s creativity. This has serious repercussions. Without the creativity to see beyond our limitations, it’s hard to access resilience – which, to me, should be as much a part of life as breathing in and out.
It’s true that the human narrative is changing, and we can no longer rely on happy ever after endings. But it is time for us all to call on our resilience to reshape the legacy of what we want to leave behind so humanity and other species may continue to experience life on Earth. But how can we do this when those in positions of power have created a paradigm that solely focuses on breathing out into endless growth, expansion and progress to the point that humanity is imploding? As I see it, we have arrived at the time when we have completely emptied our human lung capacity – there is literally no more breath left to breathe out anymore.
For anyone who practices yogic breathing, the space between the out breath and the in breath is where we consciously hold the exquisite moment of experiencing empty lungs before mindfully taking another breath and enjoying the process of what it feels like for our lungs to fill again with sweet life-giving air. This cycle of conscious breathing follows a natural flow which helps us to profoundly connect to the cycles of our own life, to our resilience and to the cycles of the natural world.
However, humanity is not practicing yogic breathing. It is currently trapped in the interval between the out breath and the in breath, and our lungs have gone into spasm. We are hard-wired to survive so when we can’t take a breath, we panic and begin to fight for air. I see this is where humanity is right now: caught in spasm, panic and fight.
But there is a way to break through. It’s about simply reconnecting to the natural cycle of our breath so we can ground ourselves and draw on our resilience to stare hardship and challenge square in the eye and refuse to give up until we find a resolution. Sometimes life can be so unforgiving that resilience is all we have left. It drags us out of bed when we are pulverised by loss and grief. It makes us hold on tight to our dreams when everything is falling around our ears; it encourages us to reach out when we believe we are abandoned. It forces us take that one step at a time as we blindly seek a way through the darkest hours of our life; it teaches us to be flexible in the face of challenge and change, and it helps us to see a much bigger picture of what it means to be a human being entering the flow of life rather than someone manically ‘doing’ to run away from themselves.
So how do we consciously reconnect with our resilience? I believe there are nine keys to this:
- WE NEED TO WAKE UP TO OURSELVES
We have to develop the skills to listen to what is going on inside us. Our body holds all the information we need to make our life work for us, what is true for us, and what is false. So, the first key to connecting to resilience is to wake up to the feelings that we are experiencing in the moment and allowing them to guide us forward.
- ADMIT TO OUR MORTALITY
Life is finite. All of us are going to die. Admitting to our mortality allows us to see ourselves for who we really are – someone who is just passing through this physical existence. Thousands have experienced life on Earth before we were born, and thousands will come after we die. Knowing and accepting that we are part of the larva of humanity helps us to put life back into perspective, and to find ways to live the best life we possibly can irrespective of what may be happening out in the larger world.
- FIND MEANING AND PURPOSE
I was staggered to learn that 85% of workers worldwide say that they hate their jobs (Gallup, 2017). This is no way to live this one precious life that we are experiencing right now. So, it’s essential to take time to explore what fires up our creativity and to discover what makes us feel alive and spontaneous. We need to ask ourselves, ‘What unique gifts do I have to offer?’ And refuse to take none for an answer.
- WE HAVE TO BECOME HUMBLE
Just as resilience is part of the human condition, so is pain and suffering. Suffering strips away ill-placed pride and introduces us to the humility of seeing life for what it is: a series of experiences that begin at birth and end with death. It’s how we respond to these experiences that matters. As Kahlil Gibran says, ‘Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.’
- TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSBILITY
It doesn’t matter if we believe in past lives – it’s this life that matters and the only real mission for all of us is to own the life we have come here to experience. Yes, this can be very scary especially when we have set high expectations for ourselves or when life turns in on itself. But the only way to step out of being a victim is to understand that we are creators of our own reality and to focus on something that nurtures and supports who we are.
- BECOME A RESPONSIBLE ANCESTOR
Life is not just about our immediate family or ancestral line. Taking care of the planet is essential for the survival for all species. For humanity to survive and thrive we need to go beyond our immediate constraints of what we believe life to be and become far more conscious of the flow of all life following behind us. Caring for the Earth is the true meaning of legacy.
- GIVE UP WHATEVER MAKES US UNHAPPY.
When we look outside ourselves for something or someone to make us feel good about ourselves, we end up filled with anxiety because we are terrified of it coming to an end. Giving up what makes us unhappy is about finding ways to deeply connect to our resilience so we can begin to make informed choices about what supports our vision of making this world a better place.
- RECONNECT TO THE EARTH
Our beautiful planet has sustained life for billions of years and made possible the evolution of humankind. But what we term as progress has insidiously eroded away our profound connection to the natural cycles and rhythms of nature. For future generations to survive, we need to learn, once again, to synchronise our own resilient cycle of breath with the Earth’s cycle of breath.
- UNDERSTAND OUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE
To put our self-importance into perspective, we just need to look into deep space. One of the most extraordinary photographs I have ever seen is from Voyager 1 as it passed out of our solar system on February 14th 1990, 3.7 billions miles from Earth. Our planet is a minute pale blue dot hanging in a vast expanse of space. It makes me believe there is a far greater plan at work than I can possibly imagine.
When you find yourself overwhelmed by the fear and anxiety that is being spoon fed to us day after day, take a moment to calm yourself by focusing on your breath. Feel your feet firmly on the floor, and, as you breathe out, consciously call on your resilience to make itself known to you. It may appear as a feeling or as a vision or perhaps even a sound. Spend a little time reflecting on the 9 keys to resilience, and perhaps identify certain keys that you may have overlooked or not considered to be part of what makes resilience such an indelible part of who you are.
Resilience makes us feel safe inside ourselves, and I believe this is the human quality which will help to stem the surge of negativity that assails us because it gives us the courage and the determination to stand up and say, ‘Enough! NO MORE! There are far better ways to experience life.’
Living Fully, Dying Consciously steps into the heart of the human condition to explore why our entire life is a psychological and spiritual preparation for death. Life is not easy, but when we accept that we are just passing through this physical existence it puts things into perspective. Confronting our fear of death and accepting our physical mortality helps us to create a much more conscious way of living. This is essential for our own spiritual wellbeing, for the wellbeing of the planet and for future generations.
‘This book is a Tour de Force of the science and philosophy surrounding death and dying, as well as the emerging science of consciousness survival, all of which I have both researched myself and also experienced personally, so I can verify the scientific accuracy of what Sue is reporting on – and teaching in this wonderful book.’ Dr. Alan Ross Hugenot, author of The New Science of Consciousness Survival and the Metaparadigm Shift to a Conscious Universe.
Publisher contact details and review copies
Every six weeks I run a consciousness meeting for a group of women who want to talk about what really matters. The theme of solitude was chosen by a group member who is planning to run a retreat early in the new year. She wanted to explore how the rest of us experience solitude.
Those in a relationship or living with family spoke about solitude as a gift because spending time alone often has to be fought for. One participant said, ‘I have only recently started to live with my partner, and I am noticing that although I love sharing my life with him, I miss the quiet of having my own space. So, when I get those moments, it is like pure gold.’
Others who live alone said that even though family and good friends may be nearby, they often find themselves walking a fine line between solitude and loneliness. One said that when she spends too much time on her own, she notices she ‘goes a little mad.’ ‘I notice that I start to withdraw into myself and find it hard to reach out. So, I have learnt to make sure I always make contact with someone every day.’
This led into a discussion about how shame and failure is attached to loneliness. ‘We have to be seen to be ‘doing’ all the time. A busy life is seen as a successful life,’ said one participant. ‘But,’ she continued, ‘I find this exhausting and also frightening. I don’t want to feel lonely, yet I realise loneliness is part of who we are as human beings.’ ‘Yes,’ said another, ‘if you’re seen as busy it means that you have a life filled with friends and family or you are achieving something that other people aren’t. But I think a lot of busy-ness is really hiding loneliness.’
‘Most people run away from loneliness,’ yet another said. ‘It’s so painful. No-one wants to feel it and certainly not admit to it, because if you admit to being lonely, it means you’re a failure on some level.’
Someone who lives alone spoke about being aware that she slips from solitude into loneliness when she loses connection with herself. ‘Throughout my life I have spent a lot of time on my own, so I have really explored the difference between solitude, aloneness, and loneliness. Solitude feels like I am deeply connected with the Universe and this gives me meaning and purpose. I am conscious that I need aloneness to feel the full of effect of solitude, which enables things to flow creatively through me. So, for me, aloneness and solitude are essential for the creative work I do. It quietens my mind. But I fall into the dark hole of loneliness when for some reason, this connect is knocked sideways. That’s when I start questioning the point of life and point of me. Sometimes I find it really hard to climb back out of the hole – the loneliness is so overwhelming I don’t want to be here anymore. But I am so used to this happening that, these days, I tell it to shut up. It seems to sort of work!’
‘I spent five months in virtual seclusion a few years ago because I wanted to meet my loneliness head on,’ said another participant. ‘I knew that if I was going to make a success out of my life following the breakdown of a relationship, I had to do it. So, I invited loneliness to be my companion. At times it was an incredibly painful, crushing experience, but I learnt that I could either allow loneliness to kill me or turn it into something that serves me. I still struggle with it at times, but I don’t allow it to steal my life force from me anymore’.
When someone asked what had changed after she returning from this seclusion, the participant replied, ‘Anger.’ She continued, ‘I realised that my life is connected to something so much greater than me, and that although my life matters, at the same time it doesn’t matter at all. But the experience has made me want to spend the rest of my life finding ways is strengthen this connection because, to me, it’s all about coming home to myself.’
One participant described her relationship with solitude as a sacred internal space. ‘When I experience solitude, it’s the only time I feel really at home with who I am. I may live in a bricks and mortar home and I may live in the UK, but everything changed for me when I realised my body is my home. I can’t exist in physical form without it. I found that an incredibly powerful realisation, and that’s when I started to take care of my body. The trouble is that we forget this. A lot of people seem to be living half out of their body, or forget they even have one, so they have no sense of real belonging. This makes them feel lonely no matter how many friends and family they have around them.’
We started to explore what a sense of belonging means to us. One well-travelled participant, who was born in Africa, told us that as soon as she steps onto African soil, she feels deeply connected with herself again. Although she has lived in the UK for years, she has never felt this depth of belonging. ‘Africa is home. Simple as that.’ Another participant spoke about finding a powerful sense of belonging when she visited New Zealand. ‘Maybe it’s past life thing,’ she said.
Another said that belonging for her was about family. ‘I have moved a lot but the sense of belonging to my family remains constant.’ Two participants told us that they had never felt any real sense of belonging. They only experienced it through their connection with the Universe. ‘I feel I am just passing through this life, and I will return to my real home when I die,’ said one. ‘Me too,’ agreed the other. ‘I have never felt that this planet is my home. I don’t belong here. I know this is a crazy thing to say, but it’s true for me.’
‘I have never equated solitude with home before,’ said a participant. ‘But I now see they fit together perfectly. Solitude is about feeling at home with who you are. Loneliness is when you feel disconnected and separated from your real home.’
‘I have been to many retreats over the years, and I often experience the full spectrum of solitude, aloneness and loneliness during them,’ said another participant to conclude our meeting. ‘In my experience, retreats create sacred boundaries where I can safely explore what solitude, aloneness and loneliness mean to me. I believe this is an essential process for our spiritual evolution. Loneliness is here to remind us that we have disconnected from ourselves, but the impact lessens when we invite in loneliness. That’s when we have the chance to turn it into the serenity of solitude.’
Recently I was a participant in Professor Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation retreat at the Haybergill Centre, Yorkshire. I was a little apprehensive before embarking on the six-hour drive from Wiltshire because I had read Jem’s deep adaptation paper, which doesn’t pull any punches predicting social unrest and financial collapse as climate crisis continues to unfold.
Yet I was deeply heartened by the experience. Not because everything is ‘going to okay’ – it isn’t in the context of climate crisis – but because of the amazing international group of people who had gathered for the retreat, each one of us committed to facing the truth about the future of our planet. Within moments of meeting, we had bonded at a profound level – all of us signed up, of course, to share our fears and anxieties of what we may be faced with, but more importantly, to collectively share our creativity and inspiration on how to find positive and productive ways to work with this uncertainty. I experienced our group as a living expression of the whole being far great than the sum of its parts.
This whole-togetherness is being expressed right this moment in the streets of capital cities across the globe through Extinction Rebellion. Yesterday in London, for an example, someone dressed as broccoli spear was arrested alongside a rabbi who had led his congregation into Trafalgar Square to join thousands of protestors from all walks of life. The day before, an eighty-two- year-old woman was arrested alongside the young and the middle aged, parents and grandparents. But more impressive is how protestors have peacefully materialised (against much police opposition) a mini street city with food stations, washing stations, camp sites, lost property stations and media stations to support each other, inform each other and galvanise each other to show their children and the rest of the UK how life can be lived and shared in a different way. London is buzzing with people co-operation. It’s as if the Earth put out a poster as Lord Kitchener did to recruit World War I soldiers, saying ‘Your Planet Needs YOU’
I understand that some people accuse climate crisis activists of fear-mongering and terrifying children. Yes, it is terrifying to think what may happen if we don’t turn things around. But I see all climate activists as collectively using the fury of fear to wake humanity up globally to do something about saving the planet for future generations, not to mention animal species. This not an expression of unhealthy fury, which is about controlling, terrorising, manipulating and humiliating others. This is an expression of healthy fury which enables us to stand up for ourselves, fight our corner, set boundaries and create change for the better.
It’s about time we broke out of our repressed colonial conditioning to find far better ways to support each other as our tenuous future unfolds. We are all in this together. So, let’s stop fighting, bickering, criticising and blaming each other. Let’s start working together instead and learning from others who traditionally embrace a deeply respectful way of life. For a start, wouldn’t it be great if we all began to think in terms of how the Native American Indian Iroquois make decisions. Any decision they make takes the next sevengenerations into consideration. Now, that would be world changing.
As I point out in my book, Living fully, Dying Consciously, we need to move away from our ego-driven lives and look at things from a higher perspective. I believe we only start to do this when we begin to accept our mortality. When we know our life is finite, it makes us truly value what we have, and to do the best we possibly can while we still have breath left in our body.
I recognise that facing death is a completely different matter to facing extinction. This takes the concept of mortality to entirely new level. But when we connect with the bigger picture of who we are, we see ourselves for what we truly are – a blink in the eye of the Universe. Look what happened when the dinosaurs and most of life on earth were wiped out. It took a while, but the planet replenished, life recalibrated and human beings thrived. In whatever way the planet transmutes through this present crisis, life will continue. It may not be in the form of life we experience at the moment, and certainly not in the vast numbers we have currently reached, which is no bad thing. But, it’s impossible to destroy consciousness. If you really want a reality check about our self-importance, spend a moment reflecting on the extraordinary and beautiful photograph taken by Voyager 1 as it passed out of our solar system on February 14th, 1990, 3.7 billion miles from earth. Our planet is a minute pale blue speck of dust almost invisible in the vast expanse of space.
Find your tribe
My counsel to anyone struggling to make sense of the changes that are knocking at the door is to form or join a group of people who you regularly meet with; people who are willing to be honest and open about what’s going on in the world, yet are not prepared to indulge in doomsaying (this really doesn’t help) or have the unrealistic expectation that everything will suddenly be fine. It’s about accepting the reality of what’s going on and agreeing to focus on what is inspiring for you all.
Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone write about how much we now need to form groups in their book, Active Hope: how to face the mess we’re in without going crazy. Belonging to a group provides a foundation for courage and resilience to come to the fore so we can adapt as circumstance change, see setbacks for what they are, and find strength when times look bleak. They say, ‘When conditions are difficult having a trusted gang around us both to draw from and give to can make all the difference.’ I have experienced the same resilience and generosity of spirit when running the Death Cafes. We need to come together to connect and care for each other when we engage with unnerving and frightening situations.
Most of all, more than at any other period in human history, we need to collectively pay homage to our beautiful Mother Nature and treasure the gifts she presents to us, knowing she is part of us as we are part of her. Mother Nature lives in our bones, and what we do to her, to do to ourselves.
I’ve been thinking a lot about loneliness recently. Christmas and New Year are a good time for that. It’s so easy to fall into some kind of envy that makes you feel that your life is less than everyone else’s and separates you even from yourself.
I imagine like many of you reading this, I have suffered from bouts of loneliness throughout my life. For me loneliness isn’t just one feeling. Sometimes it’s like a dark heaviness that creeps into my heart and stays there, brooding. Sometimes it can be so intense that it paralyses any sense of self. At other times the feeling of separation can be so unbearable it can make me wish I wasn’t here at all.
I’ve thought a lot about forgiveness since my husband left me last year. It wasn’t the fact that he went. It was the manner in which it was done. I felt as if my soul was being stamped on with concrete boots.
To begin with I was in such a state of shock that it was all I could do to survive. It’s only recently, as the first anniversary of him leaving passes by, that I have begun to feel normal again (whatever normal is, by the way). But after any profound grief and loss, life cannot be and will never be the same again.
My attitude to life has certainly changed, and continues to do so, as I face up to what the experience has taught me.
The first lesson I learnt was that, even though I was in bits, this crisis was not going to kill me. Life continued regardless. The second was how amazingly supportive my friends were, and still are. It was as if I needed this experience to deepen my relationships and to find out what friendship really means. If that was the only gift I gained, I would have been very happy.
But, it wasn’t.
Last year my husband walked out of our marriage. We had been together for thirteen years. At the age of sixty, overnight I lost my partner, my beloved home, financial security, and the prospect of growing older as part of a couple.
Sadly, I am not alone. Research shows that divorce rates for those over fifty have doubled in the past twenty years. The fallout has massive preoccupations not just emotionally but also financially. In 2012, The Telegraph published a disturbing article stating that I in 6 of the babyboomer generation are facing health issues associated with financial hardship, a large proportion of which lies squarely at the door of these later-life divorces.