The Principles I Work From
These principles are interdependent on one another in their capacities to transform our consciousness, just as we humans are also interdependent on one another for our healing and forward movement in life. The Principles themselves are like reference points in consciousness, doorways through which we can enter into new paradigms of living. Through embodying these principles over time we slowly begin to radically and positively change our way of living to find greater resonance with who we really are.
There are 9 main principles with many other minor principles strewn across the landscape of my work. A little like a starry night sky with a major constellation of stars and many other beautiful tiny dots twinkling in amongst them.
The Principles I work from are as follows:
- Slowing Down, Pausing & Deeper Listening
- Honouring limits
- Presence & Helping
- Allowing feelings
- Awareness of bodily sensations
- Exploring Resonance
- Gratitude & Appreciation
- Celebrating What Is
Slowing Down, Pausing & Deeper Listening
"Be patient and keep reminding yourself that you don’t need to experience everything now. This hero’s journey we are on proceeds one tiny step at a time" - Dr Peter Levine
The first of the principles is slowing down. Slowing down & Pausing is something that most of us find challenging most of the time. Slowing down & pausing powerfully increases our capacity to be present in all of our relations. In the work of Somatic Experiencing we understand that trauma is something that happens as a result of experiencing ‘too much too fast too soon’. Through slowing down and being aware we can begin to heal & integrate difficult past experiences that are being held in our body-mind in the form of unresolved stresses and tensions. Deeper Listening happens naturally as we begin to slow down and transform the inner tensions that we carry in our bodies. The space within us gives birth to new horizons and it is from within the depth of this inner landscape and fertile emptiness that deeper listening grows. If we are constantly trying to fill this space with stuff then we become numb to the beautiful and subtle rhythms in life that it is possible to experience and enjoy. In summary Slowing down & Pausing is about carving out space inside of us to allow for healing and growth to occur more rapidly. ‘Slow is smooth and smooth is fast’.
Acknowledging & Honouring Limits
"You don't truly love someone until you love their fate, too." - Bert Hellinger
The second principle is Acknowledging & Honouring Limits. We so often get caught up in living out of beliefs such as ‘anything is possible’ or ‘I can do anything I want’ or romantically and fantastically chasing goals and big dreams whilst wondering why we continually seem to fall flat on our faces. We have been conditioned into an aggressive survival based culture which constantly pushes at limits without listening. We so rarely pay much or any attention to the deeper level of feelings and past experiences who lay distraught and undigested within us like heavy impossible weights tied around our souls. Our limits are basically our unresolved past and it is by turning towards the past, facing it, acknowledging it, honouring and celebrating it that we can really become more available to the alive and mysterious beauty of life. Positive growth happens when we learn how to both regulate & integrate the pushing and honouring of limits with greater skill and finesse. Knowing when to push and when to honour is an art. The first step is to stop pushing and start honouring.
Consciously Relating with our limits
We are human, imperfect, wounded and traumatized. When we try to ignore that we are this way or we try to pretend we are someone who is not any of these things then this is how we end up in mental prisons. Of course my woundedness and trauma is not who I am, but unless I consciously relate with and honour the limits presented by these traumas within me then I will become crippled by them. I am encouraging you in this work to move from a culture of ignorance and arrogance, into a culture of deep recognition and appreciation for what is. Loving ourselves is about learning to love ALL of ourselves and each other. Being honest about our limits is about taking the risk of sharing our vulnerable feelings. Some people build entire relationships on the foundations of unconsciously identifying with each other’s limits rather than fostering the potential for real presence, aliveness and beauty in sharing honestly about what limits us. When we relate with our limits more exposed then greater possibilities are born into the field of that relationship for healing, growth and learning. When both parties in a relationship honour their own and each other’s limits then a truly alive intimacy becomes possible. Of course developing presence and the capacity to parent ourselves is primary to being able to relate so consciously with our limits. Developing stronger relational presence is something we practice in this work.
“Resilient strength is the opposite of helplessness. The tree is made strong and resilient by its grounded root system. These roots take nourishment from the ground and grow strong. Grounding also allows the tree to be resilient so that it can yield to the winds of change and not be uprooted”. – Dr Peter Levine
We live in a culture that is so oriented towards ‘survival’ its often easy to forget to resource ourselves. Resourcing is about recognising our deeper longing and finding the resources to meet that longing within, so that we can begin expanding our consciousness beyond familiar limits. One approach to resourcing is calling on my ancestors whenever I am in need of support. I learned this from Daan Van Kampenhout in Systemic Ritual. He once said to me, “Isn’t it amazing that whenever we are feeling stressed or tense, getting identified in some kind of suffering, we can pick up our drum and choose to call on our resources through song”. So resourcing is active self-care. It is about becoming aware of what we need in the present moment and then calling on whatever resources we can access in service of coming back to the experience of our own essence. Whether they be inner resources or outer resources. Sometimes the resources we need in order to come back to ourselves are not accessible internally, then we have to find the courage and humility to reach out and ask others for help. Resourcing is basically about consciously shifting oneself into a deeper state of reception. We can do this through conscious relating, positive sensational awareness, creativity, imagination, prayer & meditation. Through practicing the act of deep receiving, we slowly dissolve the ego, heal the wounds of the past and move into a blossoming of being.
Presence & Helping
‘Every act of helping should make me happy’ – Bert Hellinger
One of the biggest confusions we have about love in relationship is believing that love and the need to help someone is the same thing. In actuality these two realities are very different. Our reactive need to help the other often masks our own difficulty to presence with whatever that person is going through, helping in this sense is a survival behaviour. When we come into contact with a person’s emotional suffering and immediately react into trying to help them, this type of reactive helping behaviour often mislabelled as love is known as rescuing. In psychological rescuing, the rescuer prioritises their own survival need to avoid difficult overwhelming feelings over a genuine care for the well being of the other person. Surrendered Love is the capacity to remain present and empathic without reaction or a need to do anything. Surrendered Love is a state of being not doing. Love is effortless. The presence of love dissolves all tension and brings everything into a state of softness, ease & harmony, when our love is overflowing like this then real help happens. I call this surrendered caring.
“This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honourably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whatever comes. because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
- Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi
Many of us are frozen through trauma and are unable to feel anything, so firstly our work is slowly melting the ice in our hearts so that we can begin to feel something together. Once we get into the experience of actually feeling, we discover that feelings are like layers of an onion, one often covers another and that one is covering another one and ultimately the road leads deeper into the centre, into healing and eventually connecting with the essence of who we are beyond feelings. Discovering our true essence happens over time through the practice of allowing feelings. Of course our capacity to allow feelings increases as we begin to internalise a sense of safety and holding, also being able to recognise available resources, then allowing feelings becomes much easier. It is possible to experience feelings such as sadness, shame, guilt and despair and not let that effect too radically our overall state of happiness and peace. It takes time to arrive here, like anything we have to invest the time to learn these new pathways into surrendered being. Being true to ourselves and our feelings takes time, it does not happen overnight. Through this work of allowing feelings our souls are swept empty of everything and this new spaciousness gives rise to renewed passion and purpose in our lives.
Awareness Of Sensations
“A few moments of feeling it in your body allows it to change. If there is in you something bad or sick or unsound, let it inwardly be and breathe into it. That's the only way it can evolve and change into the new form it needs to become.” - Eugene T Gendlin
Through practising awareness of sensations we are rediscovering the language of our bodies and the earth. Sensational awareness is a gateway to feeling, experiencing and enlivening of our presence. I want to introduce this guiding principle with the words of John O’Dononhue. “The earth is our origin and destination. The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves into the rhythms of the human heart. The earth is not outside us; it is within us: the clay from where the tree of the body grows”. Sensational awareness is the forgotten language of the earth. Each sensation is a doorway to a deeper truth about who we are, where we have come from and what we have experienced. Sensations can be separated into two categories. Those connected with expansive & positive experiences and those connected with difficult challenging experiences. Difficult sensations that find their roots in traumatic experience can be transformed into more positive sensations and images through the receiving of the support needed to activate healing. The healing process in this regard involves cultivating compassionate awareness and a deeper acceptance of the sensational experience as it is happening. Through reclaiming our awareness of sensations, we are reclaiming our belonging and our connection to the strength & beauty of ourselves, our bodies and the earth.
Exploring Resonance is a creative act. In this we experience ourselves in radically different ways, moving beyond the idea of being fixed in our identities. Playing with different ways of being in service of healing and expanding our sense of self beyond previously known limits.
Horizontal Resonance is about taking the risk to listen deeply inside the world of the other, letting go of our own way of seeing things and taking the time to come into deeper resonance with others, letting ourselves be changed by the experience of relating more openly whilst also remaining aware of our own needs and staying in touch with our own presence. This is something many of us find challenging in relationship, being present and aware of our own needs whilst also being connected inside the world of the other. Horizontal Resonance is very much about developing empathy for others whilst maintaining our own integrity of presence and being. When we truly open to meeting one another we can discover together new ways of being that we could never have found without each other.
Vertical Resonance is where we temporarily let go of ideas about who we are and come into resonance with different felt experiences in service of healing. In these diverse feeling experiences we may find ourselves in more expanded states of being or deeper states of tension. Vertical Resonance is about learning the art of feeling and presence. Vertical Resonance is born out of my experience with the representative experience in the fields of Family Constellation & Systemic Ritual. I believe our collective purpose as humans is to remember that we are like trees, we are bridges between the earth and the sky, Vertical Resonance is about remembering this deep purpose, reclaiming the intelligence of vertical connectedness which many of us have lost touch with.
Gratitude & Appreciation
‘Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore, May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.
As the wind loves to call things to dance, May your gravity be lightened by grace.
Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth, May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.
As water takes whatever shape it is in, So free may you be about who you become.
As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said, May your sense of irony bring perspective.
As time remains free of all that it frames, May your mind stay clear of all it names.
May your prayer of listening deepen enough to hear in the depths the laughter of God’.
- John O’Donohue
It is through appreciation and in gratitude that I discover the true essence of my being. As I bow in gratitude to life I say, “Thank you for blessing me with all that I have and all that I am, I take your blessing as a great gift". Love comes to us from somewhere, through acknowledging the source of this love we enable a forward movement in life. We naturally begin to embody this love and pass it on with great effortlessness. Gratitude & Appreciation is the key to healing past trauma and moving beyond suffering. For every challenging traumatic experience we have brings with it some kind of gift and lesson. Once we have gained genuine access to feeling gratitude for these challenging life experiences, this reflects the healing and integration of these traumas. Gratitude & Appreciation is about acknowledging that we have received something, it is a way of saying, “I see you and I thank you for what you have given”. In this movement we shift into a natural state of generous overflowing. True giving is not something we need to do, it is something that happens naturally when it is ready to and it happens as a result of Gratitude, living a lifestyle of genuine gratitude reflects a higher level of spiritual maturity. Gratitude & Appreciation is the gateway to experiencing who we are.
Celebrating What Is
“I don’t think existence wants you to be serious. I have not seen a serious tree. I have not seen a serious bird. I have not seen a serious sunrise. I have not seen a serious starry night. It seems they are all laughing in their own ways, dancing in their own ways. We may not understand it, but there is a subtle feeling that the whole existence is a celebration. Celebration is without any cause. Celebration is simply because we are. We are made out of the stuff called celebration. That’s our natural state – to celebrate – as natural as it is for the trees to bloom, for birds to sing, for rivers to flow to the ocean. Celebration is a natural state” - OSHO
As the frozen cold of winter starts to give way to gushing birdsong. We are born again into movement, energy and life. Trees celebrate their stillness in swishing and swaying, birds celebrate through singing, celebration is about doing what we naturally do with great joyfulness. Celebration is an uprising of self-hood, it is a state of oneness with everything as it is. All difficult feelings dissolve into it. Celebration is the act of letting go of the ego and coming totally into the joy of the present moment. First we learn to acknowledge and allow feelings, then we learn to honour them and give thanks and finally we celebrate them, no matter what they are and from where they are have come, we celebrate them and we celebrate ourselves because we are happening right now in this very moment! How miraculous this reality of being alive really is! Through the practice of celebrating what is we learn to not waste our energy fighting with life but instead we learn to welcome the surprises that come our way with lightness and ease, no matter how challenging they are. We learn to not take everything so seriously and approach dealing with the challenges that life brings us with greater lightness and welcome because we understand that these challenges are simply gifts waiting to be given birth through us. Rather than seeing life as a problem that needs to be solved, an injustice that needs to fought or a wrong that needs to be put right, we can see life as a gift that is asking to be realised and celebrated.