I used to pride myself on being rational, logical, practical, level-headed, science-orientated, commercially-minded. My prevailing attitude was one of ‘just get on with it’. Or like the classic British phrase, ‘keep calm and carry on’. I liked control and order, although I didn’t realise how much until I had kids! They were my first wake up call to the fact that my imagined way of doing things ‘right’, was just a made-up way and not an absolute fact of life!
In 2013, after a hip replacement, I had a few months off work and this opened up a whole new world of possibility to me. I discovered Twitter and a community of amazing people who were doing great work bringing leadership and culture to the forefront of the agenda. This looked like something I wanted to do more of, and the freedom these freelance folk had looked very appealing from my corporate standpoint.
This chink of light led me to begin developing as a coach, leaving corporate life in 2014 and setting up Wild Fig Solutions. It started with a focus on leadership and culture from a psychological perspective and, having trained with Barefoot Coaching, I brought an eclectic mix of psychological and therapeutic tools to the table.
It was all good, I thoroughly enjoyed this, and was seeing positive effects for the leaders and businesses I worked with.
But then, another chink…in 2017 I had some relationship challenges. One which sent me in a spin because something I said caused an irreparable rift with a friend. Another where I was sent in a spin as my behaviour with a colleague was like that of a controlling micro manager – the very opposite of everything I was espousing in my work. And a third, with my kids. In work I was an equanimous, emotionally intelligent coach. At home I was a stressed, busy, frustrated person far more of the time than I wanted to be. All these misalignments felt…well, misaligned! And I began asking…so what else is there? This psychological development can’t be all there is.
After some coaching and therapeutic support over those relationship spins, I went on to start yoga, Transcendental Meditation (which was being promoted as a way to reduce stress – exactly what I seemed to need!) and to read about the essence of Buddhism.
I knew there was something in this. Something powerful that I wanted to do more with. But which I wanted to be practical – that people like me (who had a preference for the rational) would recognise as useful. I’d spent most of my life resisting religious and spiritual matters and didn’t want anything woo woo! (As a side note, that false limitation of categorising and resisting what’s ‘woo woo’ has fallen away in subsequent years, as the barriers of the mind have fallen away. It’s much more fulfilling this way!)
In that quest for something practical, with what I could sense was a powerful opportunity, life provided an answer. My good friend Garry Turner had coach Piers Thurston on his podcast, and – there it was! Piers was sharing what sounded like what I’d read in the Buddhism book, but it sounded so practical, so normal. And he was working with leaders and business!
So, Piers became my coach, and I experienced a significant awakening! I wouldn’t have labelled it an awakening at the time, but now I understand that’s what it was. There was a collapse of a whole bunch of conditioned thinking about what I believed was required for me to be OK (beliefs about my parenting, my parents, and my childhood) and I was left basking in the beauty of a deep OK-ness. A Cheshire cat smile across my face. Everything looked a bit fuzzy, like it was glowing, and I spent the next few days feeling like I was walking on air.
In fact, I spent the next few months with a quiet mind. The chattering voice had gone – or at the very least it was so ignored that it didn’t come into awareness. It was amazing! I felt free and connected and saw that everything was absolutely OK and anything was possible.
And then the chattering voice gradually came back. Very normal. Because it’s a well-worn, habitual mental activity, so it’s rare for it to disappear completely in one go. As we said at the start of the book, it’s those people who do experience a complete and permanent collapse that tend to be on a stage because they are rare.
But all good, as I went on to work with Clare Dimond for the next couple of years, understanding and lightening the narrative of that voice, understanding fears that had previously been hidden, going through some pretty rough low points and tears, often thinking ‘what am I doing?!’ and yet still continuing to be drawn to that work and this exploration.
In amongst all of this I was devouring podcasts, articles, YouTube content, courses. Even when I would wake up with the mind saying, “What are you doing, you’re rational and sensible, what is this stuff you’re exploring?!” I would still be drawn to continue to explore.
Since then, my journey has been a deepening. Deepening into the knowing of who I am, and therefore into who we all are, a deepening of my own way of talking about all this, deepening into a state of flow and being in the moment – whatever the moment is. I’ve also seen my life get better – not through trying to make it better – simply through the falling away of what’s not true which leaves nothing in its wake but alignment with what’s wanted. Creating in purity, unencumbered by conditioned ideas.
Of course, I don’t know if that will continue; and I don’t need to know. I don’t know if I’m ‘done’ with conditioning that needs to be seen; and I don’t need to know. My only role is to keep looking to my essential nature, and to know that my reactions to the world are waking me up to conditioned ideas that are ready to be enlightened through loving understanding. It’s perfect!
So now my work involves exploring with people who are on the awakening and enlightenment journey – individuals, my online community and in organisations. They’ve already seen a lot, but they can also feel that their understanding is more conceptual than felt and lived. They can feel that there is more to be seen and understood for themselves, and yet they don’t know how to ‘get at’ that. Indeed, this book, as we’ve said throughout, is a significant part of this shift from conceptual into the deeper, felt understanding of our nondual nature. This is the ‘getting at it’ that my clients are looking for.
And I do hope this is what you discover from my books.