Taking Charge of Your Life

Before we can take charge of our lives, we must acknowledge some basic truths:

Everything we are is the result of ‘causes’ laid down in the past; what we will become will result from what we are now and from ‘causes’ still to be laid down. This is the universal Law of Cause and Effect.

These ‘causes’ are primarily our own thoughts, imaginings, words and actions. If we ‘sow’ the right ‘seeds’ from now on, we change, and consequently our life circumstances change too, irrespective of what has gone before.

We are in charge of what we think, believe, imagine, feel, say and do. Once we acknowledge this, we know we always have choices, and we can use this power once we know how to use certain life transforming tools and techniques.

  •  It’s not what happens out there in the world that shapes our lives, but what happens in here between our ears! This is not what most of us were taught as children, but it’s true. We cannot alter our genetic make up, nor can we go back and change out early programming and conditioning. But for most of us of sound mind, our thinking is within our control.

We can choose what we think about.
We can choose where we allow our imagination to go.
We can choose what we think, say and do in response to what happens around us.

In other words, we can consciously lay down the ‘causes’ that create our future lives and then watch and enjoy the results unfold. Indeed, we are doing it all the time whether we are aware of it or not. So learn to become aware of what you think, say and do in every moment and how it impacts on your circumstances.

Since your thoughts are the prime causes, take responsibility for your thoughts, and you literally take charge of your life.

Once you know this, the door to the best possible future is wide open. Only an idiot believes that thinking, feeling and doing what you’ve always done will bring different results!

That’s why Dr Napolean Hill, author of ‘Think and Grow Rich’, the most influential book on happiness and success ever written, said:

‘The vast majority of people are born, grow up, struggle, and go through life in misery and failure, not recognising that it would be just as easy to switch over and get out of life exactly what they want, not recognising that the mind attracts the thing it dwells upon.’

From the time you reach adulthood, nobody else can make your life happen for you. Blaming circumstances (however unfortunate) and other people (however unpleasant) won’t change anything; in fact, it makes things worse – you become a victim.

See whatever happens in your life as the world’s response to your state of mind

Here’s an illuminating exercise. Sit comfortably. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Relax your body and let go of all tension. In this relaxed state, reflect on the events and circumstances of your life. Don’t judge. Don’t blame. Just reflect on how your thoughts, beliefs, imaginings and actions have created your life and how past decisions have affected you.

As I said,you’ll find this very illuminating!

Copyright David Lawrence Preston 22.9.2018

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The Law of Cause and Effect

The Law of Cause and Effect (sometimes known as Karma) is fundamental to the universe. It is probably most closely associated with the physical sciences, for example, when a snooker cue strikes a ball, the ball moves, and when one ball hits another, the impact made by the first causes the second to move. Their speed and direction can be predicted accurately by applying precise scientific measurements and principles.

In the world of human behaviour, causes and effects are not so easily measured and may not be predictable, but are no less real. With very few exceptions (e.g. purely reflex reactions), every action you ever took and every word you ever spoke began as a thought. Your present has been shaped by your actions, which were governed by your past thoughts and emotions; and your future will be shaped by the actions you take from now on, which will be shaped by your future thoughts and emotions.

The Law of Cause and Effect describes the relationship between what we think, feel and do and what we get out of life. It states that everything we are and everything we have has been shaped by ‘causes’ laid down in the past.

Every action has a cause.

Every cause produces an effect.

Thoughts are prime causes.

Speech, emotions and actions (and their results) are their effects.

Therefore constructive thoughts lead to positive emotions and constructive actions.

Negative thoughts lead to damaging emotions and destructive actions.

Therefore we constantly contribute to our circumstances – both present and future – by the way we think. And when we decide to change our way of thinking – including our beliefs, attitudes and prejudices – and sow different ‘seeds’, we change; and when we change, our circumstances change too, irrespective of what has gone before. The world responds to what we think, believe, imagine, feel, say and do.

Some consider this a frightening prospect, because it means taking responsibility for ourselves, but it’s actually one of the most hopeful things about being alive – the fact that we can turn our lives around by choosing to think differently. Only you decide what to think – if you don’t choose your thoughts, who does?

Some would say there’s little we can do, because our futures are laid out in our genes or by fate – but our genes only account for about a small part of our psychological make up. Others argue that we are merely the product of our programming and conditioning and we can do nothing to change this – but these are learned, and anything that has been learned can be reappraised, un-learned and re-learned.

The only question is – how?

It’s not as hard as you may think!

©David Lawrence Preston 28.2.2016

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Anger – hot coals and cool thoughts

‘Holding anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.’

 The Buddha

 

Anger has had a bad press. It’s generally thought to be a bad thing and, sure, it can be harmful when unjustified and badly handled. It raises our stress levels, and if it continues causes no end of physical and mental health problems..

However there’s another side to it:

Properly controlled and directed anger can be constructive if it generates creative energy

Anger is a normal, healthy emotion when managed well. Anger has driven countless individuals to struggle against slavery, poverty, apartheid and other injustices. A disgusted ‘I’ve had enough!’ can turn your life around if it spurs you to action.

Anger can also motivate others, for instance, the sports coach who gets the best out of his team because they are scared of his reaction if they play badly.

If you never responded with justified anger, you could storing up trouble. If you don’t let people know when you are upset with their behaviour, they’re likely to go on doing it. Then the feelings grow, gnawing away at your self respect.

But going to the other extreme is just as bad. If you are continually angry or every trivial event triggers angry feelings, there’s little chance of you being taken seriously and every chance you’ll make yourself ill. This is what the Buddha meant when he said, ‘You will not be punished for your anger, but by your anger.’ In other words, you are the one who has to live with it.

The trick is to know when and how to be angry. You always have the choice to respond with anger or not; no-one can force you to be angry unless you want to. This is not what most of us have been taught to believe – but it’s true.

What causes anger?

Anger has one source only: some expectation is not being met. Something in the environment is not to your liking.

Volcano

There are two sorts of anger:

  1. One is the quick outburst, which may be intense but is soon over and swiftly forgotten. This is usually harmless, and is an effective way of releasing pent-up emotions. Just make sure you get your feelings across without breaking anything, injuring another person or (if it’s important to you) damage your long-term relationship.
  1. The other is the slow burning type, which is not so easy to get over. The pressure builds up until one day it erupts, triggered by some trivial incident which isn’t itself the reason for the blow up – the real cause is the suppressed emotion. Try not to let this happen: it’s always better to express your feelings immediately, not wait until resentment has hardened.

How about you? How do you deal with anger. Do you try not to show it? Or let fly? Do you believe it’s better to express your anger or keep quiet? How did your family deal with anger when you were a child? Is there something in your background that makes you react the way you do?

Seven tips for coping with anger

I’ve gone through angry phases in my life and had to learn to deal with it. Here are seven steps that I’ve found helpful:

Take a deep breath and count to ten

If you feel anger coming on, before lashing out, stop, take a deep breath, count to ten and exhale slowly. It really does work.

Interrogate yourself

Ask yourself:

  • Is my anger justified?
  • Have I got my facts straight?
  • Did the other person mean any harm?
  • Am I reacting like this because I’m over-tired, stressed or just fed up?
  • Am I taking it out on an innocent person?
  • Am I likely to do something I’ll later regret?
  • Will it get the outcomes I want?

Examine your motives

Behind a great deal of anger is an attempt to make someone feel guilty, or manipulate them into doing what you want. Ask yourself if you are being reasonable. Would it be OK for others to demand that you always comply with their expectations? So why should you they fall in line with yours? Isn’t it better to become more tolerant and accepting?

Become more assertive

Find a way to release your anger by becoming more assertive. Say how you feel appropriately and immediately, not some time later when memories have faded and resentment has built up. If you feel things are getting too heated, walk away. Go for a stroll to cool down.

Mentally rehearse

If you anticipate an angry confrontation, think it through and mentally rehearse. Decide what you want to achieve and write down the points you want to make.

Don’t stew

Once you’ve had your say, forget it. Don’t stew over what you could have said. There’s no point.

Own your anger – and let others own theirs

Finally, if someone is angry with you, remember, it’s not your anger – it’s theirs, and you don’t have to match it if you don’t want to.

©David Lawrence Preston 19.9.2018

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Building Self-Confidence in Practice

In-I-T-I-A-te change!

When you apply the I-T-I-A Formula – Self-awareness +Intention +Thinking +Imagination +Action – to confidence building, the shift in consciousness is not necessarily dramatic, more like a gradual awakening. Over time, you cast off your negative conditioning and adopt more empowering beliefs. Then feelings and actions change too.

It’s like climbing a ladder; don’t try too much at once, take it one rung at a time. Small steps are important. Every day, stretch yourself a little further; have a go at something which you would previously have found too daunting, like striking up a conversation with a stranger, asserting yourself, or giving a talk to a local group.

Each time you succeed, you gain encouragement, your attitude changes, and before long it will get easier and you’ll feel better than ever before.

One of the secrets of confidence building is to act ‘as if’ you’re growing in confidence, and ‘as if’ you are the person you want to be. This is what William Shakespeare meant when he wrote, ‘Assume a virtue if you have it not’.

Project an air of quiet confidence, even if you don’t feel it. For instance, if you feel shy in the company of people you don’t know, shake hands firmly, look them in the eye, speak with a confident tone of voice, and smile. It may feel like a big effort at first, but even if you have butterflies in your stomach, act as if you’re confident and you will feel more confident. Eventually the uncomfortable feelings fade.

Many outwardly confident people had to work at it, knowing that if you act confidently and look as if you know what you’re doing, then sooner or later you will feel that way.

If it feels uncomfortable to begin with, remember that it’s only your programming and conditioning trying to keep you to old habits.

It’s important to keep in mind what you’re striving for – reinventing yourself as a calm and  confident person with high self-esteem and a healthy and secure self-image.

Mental rehearsal

Creative imagery is a great ally when building confidence. Mentally rehearse any impending challenge, creating the perfect result in your mind every time to impress this on your subconscious. ‘See’, ‘hear’ and ‘feel’ yourself as a confident and successful person.

Here’s a useful four-stage routine for building confidence. Let’s say you have some goal in mind, such as making a sale, attracting a member of the opposite sex, passing an exam or attending a job interview:

  1. ‘Visualise’ yourself as a confident person and imagine what it would feel like to be loaded with confidence.
  1. Next,’ visualise’ yourself behaving confidently, for instance delivering the talk with assurance, interacting with others confidently and handling difficult questions with ease.
  1. ‘Visualise’ yourself having accomplished your objective.
  1. Finally, ‘visualise’ others’ response to your success, e.g. applauding, congratulating you etc.

Remember also to use the modelling, and anchoring techniques to the full.

Celebrate your progress!

Every time you take a step forward, reward yourself. Buy yourself a small treat, take a weekend break, go on a course – something that will give you a further taste of pleasure and success.

If on the other hand things don’t work out as you planned, don’t chastise yourself. Reflect on what you can learn from it and put the episode down to experience.

Focus on the positives

Every moment, think of all the good qualities you have. Don’t get caught up in what others think of you – or, more correctly, what you imagine others may think of you (because we can never know for sure what another person is thinking). Otherwise you’ll only attract people who demand you to keep them happy.

Instead, keep yourself happy! Be the kind of person you want to be and you’ll attract others who are the same. Remember, like attracts like. The rest follows automatically.

Be patient

If you really believed in yourself, how would you feel? Then isn’t it worth spending a little time each day working on yourself, building your self-belief? Of course it is. With a good self-image, confidence, a clear purpose and a realistic action plan almost anything is possible.

But you’ll have to be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and, if your confidence is currently low, neither is self-belief. So start now, wherever you are at, and never, never give up. It’s open to everyone!

©David Lawrence Preston, 25.8.2018

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Nature or Nurture: Why You Are The Way You Are

Nature or nurture?

One of the questions that has occupied psychologists for years is ‘Are we a result of ‘nature’ or ‘nurture’?’ To what extent are we shaped by childhood experiences, parenting, schooling and environment? What part does our genetic inheritance play? What really determines the sort of people we are and who we become?

Some believe that where we grow up, our parents treatment of us and the experiences we had as children are largely responsible for who we become. They’re right to some extent, these are important – but it doesn’t explain how people from similar backgrounds with comparable levels of ability – even twins – end up leading very different lives.

Ability and hard work don’t account for all of it either it – it takes just as much effort to empty dustbins or work long hours in a shop as it does to be a company chairman.

The answer is, whatever our origins, the world – which includes other people – responds to what we think, believe, imagine, say and do. So to harness our inner resources we must be self-aware. We must know ourselves before we can truly know anything else.  The key is understanding the workings of your mind.

Is the ‘brain’ the same as the ‘mind’?

Let’s imagine you bought a new computer. What’s the first thing you would do, once you’ve unpacked it and plugged it in? Surely you would consult the operating manual. But you’re not provided with one for the ‘computer’ between your ears! You need an instruction manual for the mind.

The brain, unlike the mind, is a physical thing. It’s a small organ weighing about 1½ Kg., housed in the space between the ears. It’s the physical vehicle through which the mind operates. It’s often compared to a computer, and in some ways it does resemble one, but it is far superior.

It is an astonishing fact that most people use less than 5% of their brain’s capacity – if that!

If the brain is the hardware, the mind is the software. The mind is an activity. It is a mass of accumulated thought-forms – ideas, beliefs, memories, attitudes, habits, prejudices and so on. It can’t be seen or weighed, but like electricity, we know it’s there and can monitor its workings.

Programming and Conditioning

In the first few years of life, our adult caretakers teach us what they think we should be. Most of us accept this programming and carry it into adulthood.

Conditioning is the way one person uses reward and punishment to shape the behaviour of another. It is how circus animals are trained and military officer enforce discipline. It’s the chief way in which we learn to relate to the world when we are young. It plays a big part in shaping our behaviour, our attitudes and our beliefs.

This is how it works: if a young boy (or girl) pleases his/her adult caretakers, they respond favourably. This is extremely pleasurable for the child and encourages a repetition of the behaviour (i.e. reinforces it). But if the adult caretakers disapprove, s/he will be told off, punished or have privileges withdrawn, which discourages a repeat of the behaviour.

Conditioning can be beneficial when administered by caring parents who believe in empowering their children. But many parents are ill informed, critical of themselves and their children. Children are quick learners and great imitators: their parents’ and teachers’ habits are soon passed on, and of course, once they reach the teenage years, the peer group and media influences come into play too.

Much of the damage is done in run-of-the-mill remarks which adults regard as insignificant – ‘Don’t…’. ‘Stop it or else…’ ‘You can’t…’  ‘Who do you think you are?’ Young children often take such comments to heart or interpret them in ways which weren’t intended, e.g.

  • ‘Let me do it.’ (You’re not capable.)
  • ‘You’re just as stupid as your father.’ (You’re not OK and neither is he.)
  • ‘Can’t you see I’m busy?’ (You’re not a priority.)

Beliefs about life in general are also handed down, e.g.

  • ‘You can’t trust anyone these days.’ (Don’t be too open with people.)
  • ‘All successful people lie and cheat to get to the top.’ (So you must too.)
  • ‘There’s no point in going to college. It doesn’t get you anywhere.’ (Success is a matter of privilege or luck.)
  • I’m damaged by my childhood and I can’t change. It’s just the way I am.

Research shows that as much as fifty percent of our programming is in place by the age of six; eighty percent by the age of twelve.

Psychologists used to argue that our conditioning is virtually impossible to change, but we now know that this is not true. If it were, then most psychotherapy would be ineffective.

Acknowledge the importance of your conditioning on your thinking and behaviour, then take responsibility for how you handle it.

See your programming and conditioning for what it is – simply part of your learning, some of it very valuable, and some if it worthless or unhelpful. Anything learned can be unlearned and relearned. It’s just a matter of understanding a few basic principles and using some simple techniques. Whatever has gone before can only affect the future if you let it. In a psychological sense, what matters is not where you’re from, but where you’re at. To believe otherwise is tacitly allowing yourself to be controlled by the thoughts and feelings of a young child – the child you once were. That wouldn’t make sense, would it?

Your genetic inheritance

A hundred years ago it was common for behavioural psychologists to argue that only a small proportion of our characteristics comes from our genes. Then later, largely thanks to studies of identical twins, some scientists argued that half or more of our character is genetic.

Increasingly, the role of our biochemistry is also being recognised. We know, for example, that the levels of certain hormones at pivotal phases of our development  controls our level of ‘maleness’ or ‘femaleness’, our sexual orientation, predisposition to aggression, anxiety and depression, and a range of abilities including mathematical reasoning, spatial awareness and emotional skills.

Furthermore, in the past few years, scientists have discovered that our genes do not control anything, they merely create potential which can be switched on or off by environmental and psychological influences. For example, a genetic predisposition to certain health issues can be ameliorated by a good living environment and a healthy lifestyle. So it’s not the genes themselves that make us the way we are, but how our life circumstances and psychological factors such as attitude allow genetic factors to express.

The debate is far from settled, but it is clear that only a small part- perhaps 25-35% – of our adult character comes to us with our genetic and biochemical make-up, but consider this: if even a third of your characteristics are fixed, two thirds are not! That gives you a great deal of scope to make the best of who you are!

 

Copyright David Lawrence Preston 2018, All Rights Reserved

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An empty shell

Today’s doctors study anatomy in great detail, aided by constant improvements in microscope technology, electronic scanning and, in recent decades, computers. But what exactly are they studying?

If you want to see what a human body looks like with its mental and emotional energies taken away, look out for Professor Gunther von Hagens’ travelling Bodyworlds Exhibition. Here you will find real human bodies displayed in all their glory (or stripped of their dignity, depending on your point of view).

The Professor is a controversial figure. In the 1970s he developed a technique called ‘plastination’, which removes the moisture from human and animal bodies and enables him to preserve them more or less indefinitely.

I found the Bodyworlds Exhibition a powerful educational experience. Waiting to greet me were over two hundred exhibits. Some were simply displays of body parts, including both male and female brains sliced like ham, a smoker’s black lungs opened up and compared with a non-smoker’s, and the tubes inside a scrotum drawn out to their full length, about a metre or so.

Others displayed complete cadavers with their skin removed, their bones, muscles and internal organs arranged in a variety of poses, each designed to demonstrate different anatomical features. A variety of athletic poses illustrated the use of muscle systems; there were plastinates riding a plastinated horse, playing basketball, kneeling before a cross and so on.

Juan Valverde

One stood proud, holding his skin in one hand like a blanket and unashamedly revealing his internal organs, mimicking a similar pose on an anatomical plate dated 1559 by Juan Valverde de Amusco in which a man holds a knife in one hand and his own skin in the other.

Another opened his arms like a pope to reveal all the organs of his stomach and chest cavity and another the torso of a pregnant woman sliced vertically in half to show the womb and foetus in situ.

It is easy to see why von Hagens is accused of publicity seeking. Indeed, press reports in 2009 that he was planning a sex show featuring plastinates attracted hundreds of complaints. Politicians and churchmen lined up to label it revolting and unacceptable, and a short video about the exhibit was banned in several countries.

But despite the protests, the Professor insists that his work is educational. Visitors see the structure and inner workings of the human body and the long-term impact of diseases and are brought face to face with the effects of poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, drugs and excessive alcohol consumption.

I certainly learned a lot, and my occasional discomfort never turned into offence. But as I left the exhibition, one thought kept recurring. I had not been looking at whole human beings at all: whatever had kept them alive and made them human – their very humanness – was no longer there. 

Without our non-physical attributes – what some philosophers call the ghost in the maching – we are nothing but an empty shell.

©David Lawrence Preston, 28.7.2018

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The Nature of Creative Intelligence

The religious powers-that-be describe the qualities and characteristics of their particular deities in various ways. For example, the supreme being of Islam, Allah, and the ‘Father God’ of Christianity are loving, fair and merciful, but mete out stern justice to non-believers in the afterlife. These beliefs are a matter of faith and rely solely on ancient ideas captured in scripture written long ago.

G_d

I don’t believe in this kind of g_d, but I do believe that there is a Creative Intelligence underpinning and infusing everything. Many quantum physicists – including Einstein and Max Planck – agree. This Intelligence is certainly not a person, but a ‘presence’ or ‘principle’.

Its qualities can be inferred from science, experience and common sense. The world around us provides plenty of evidence that intelligence is at work. It has beauty, order, meaning and intent. What kind of power could produce these effects? Only a positive, bountiful and constructive life force. What would life on Earth be like if this were not so? Could we exist? How long would we survive? Could life on this planet, where everything is in perfect balance, have been created by a malevolent power? A negative life force would surely destroy its own creation.

Since Creative Intelligence is inherently good and it flows through everything, then everything must in essence be inherently good. Only human ignorance and stupidity disturb the balance of nature. Imagine if we were to disappear like the dinosaurs millions of years ago; the Earth would soon be returned to its natural state of harmony.

If humans were to raise their consciousness, rise above their destructive behaviours and work together to create a perfect world, who knows what would be possible?

©David Lawrence Preston, 23.7.18

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The Secrets of Healing

The secrets of healing have long been known but it’s taken science a long time to catch up.

There’s an old story about a group of eminent scientists climbing the mountain of knowledge. They scramble up to the top of a steep slope, only to see an even higher peak in the distance. They climb the next peak, only to see yet another beyond that. They climb that and….. guess what? There’s yet another. Finally, exhausted, they pull themselves over the final rock, only to be greeted by a group of healers and metaphysicians who had been sitting there for centuries!

This analogy was not lost on Einstein. ‘Creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place,’ he wrote. ‘It is rather like climbing a mountain, gaining new and wider views, discovering unexpected connections between our starting points and its rich environment. But the point from which we started out still exists and can be seen, although it appears smaller and forms a tiny part of our broad view gained by the mastery of the obstacles on our adventurous way up.’

Every year, while most scientists continue to circle the base of the mountain, some climb a little higher. Enormous advances have been made in the last couple of decades, some of which has yet to reach the general public.

Healing and Consciousness

The healing methods applied in societies throughout history have always been closely related to the consciousness of those societies and its individuals. They have depended on how they saw the nature of the human body and its relationship with the environment in which we live. At some point in history, humans woke up to the fact that they could do something to heal themselves when they were injured or ill, and not merely alleviate discomfort. Previously, like the animals, they would have crawled into a cave or clearing and waited until they felt better before leaving it – or died.

Then at some stage those early humans realised that even death could be postponed by applying certain healing methods. They discovered that certain plants could help and that healing ceremonies and rituals could speed up the process. The earliest healers were shamans; evidence of shamanic healing goes back over fifty thousand years. Shamans studied the relationship between humans and their natural environment. They tried to harness the laws of nature to initiate health and bring about healing.

Around two and a half thousand years ago, healing became more scientific. The Greeks, worshippers of the healthy body and surely one of the most progressive and cultured of all ancient societies, began using a more systematic approach based on observation and reason. They used animal and human dissections to improve their understanding of how the body functions. By New Testament times, Greek doctors already had a good idea of the functions of the main organs and had mapped the circulatory system.

As early Christendom sank into a deep mistrust and contempt for the physical body, the next great era of anatomical research in the West took place when Muslim doctors added to earlier knowledge and explained the workings of the muscles and digestive system. I say ‘in the West’ because on the other side of the world, the Chinese were already far ahead in their healing techniques.

In the Middle Ages and beyond, Western medicine remained largely in the grip of the Greek physician often referred to as the ‘Father of Medicine’, Hippocrates, and his followers. This led to some strange practices. Hippocrates believed that there were four types of fluid in the body, which needed to be in perfect balance if health were to be maintained. So, for example, if you had a fever, you had too much blood and would be subject to leeches and other purging methods to reduce blood levels. The patient would often be so weak afterwards it would take weeks to recover. Bizarre? Yes, but won’t some of our 21st Century medical practices seem equally bizarre in the future?

In the past three hundred years, great strides have been made in the medical field – yet almost every great pioneer in most fields of medicine was ridiculed by the ‘experts’ of their day. Some of the great pioneers were accused of ‘humbug!’ and called ‘quacks’ by their contemporaries.

Today, in the early years of the 21st Century, global medicine is in the group of one particular school of thought, a view of the body perpetrated by those who see humans mainly as thinking machines ruled by our biochemistry. I say ‘global’ because even societies, like China and India, with rich healing traditions of their own, are succumbing to the power of the pharmaceutical mega-businesses that straddle the planet. But the medical/pharmaceutical establishment will one day give way as a new holistic paradigm is rising. They are so worried that they spend huge sums specifically to discredit holistic medicine, discouraging the public from ‘wasting’ their hard-earned money on ‘unproven’ healing systems and techniques. Anything outside the realms of chemicalised, mechanized, industrialised medicine is roundly condemned.

Medical history is like a parade of innovators who were far ahead of their time and dismissed as cranks in their day. Some lived long ago; some are still alive today. To appreciate them requires the willingness to critically all our beliefs about healing. We must forget what we’ve been told about what can be healed, what can’t be healed, who can heal, who can’t heal and how healing takes place.

The healing methods employed in any society say a great deal about its beliefs about what humans are and how we relate to the universe. All too often we go round in circles as we head up the mountain of knowledge. As T.S. Elliot pointed out:

‘We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’

©David Lawrence Preston, 4.5.2019

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Guilt – A Useless Emotion

Mae West: ‘For a long time I was ashamed of the way I lived.’

 Interviewer: ‘Did you reform?’

 Mae West: ‘No, I’m not ashamed any more.’

Guilt is anger turned in on yourself. It is one of the most common emotions, and one of the most disabling. It is also one of the most useless.

Many people fret needlessly over things which they could have done little to change. Others feel guilty even when they know they’ve done nothing wrong. And others spend their whole lives punishing themselves for not being the person they (or their parents) think they should be.

Guilt looks to the past which is, of course, impossible to change. But we can change what we think about it. Dwelling on something that can’t be changed is energy consuming and self-esteem destroying. Everything that happened happened for a reason. Look for the lesson. Don’t keep repeating the same mistakes.

However, a twinge of guilt can trigger a positive response if it’s handled well. It can motivate you to put things right.

If you feel guilty about something:

  1. Reflect on the situation. What message is the guilt trying to convey? Why are you punishing yourself in this way? Did you really err? Is someone else trying to manipulate you into feeling guilty? What are you trying to achieve? You may find you had no reason to feel as guilty in the first place.
  2. If your guilt is not justified because you have done nothing wrong, or couldn’t have prevented what happened, let it go.
  3. If you genuinely did make a mistake or could have done better, let the other person know  and apologise. Then do what you can to put it right and make a commitment not to do it again in the future.
  4. Then forget it at move on. If you can do nothing more about it – either because events have moved on or you’ve lost touch with the other person – you’ve nothing to gain by dwelling on it, and neither have they.

Give me the serenity to accept what I can’t change,

The courage to change what I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

©David Lawrence Preston, 3.7.2018

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How To Books, 2004

A life force flowing through us

In surveys, when people are asked if they believe in a Higher Power, many say they do, but when asked what they mean by this, they can’t say.

Perhaps there’s a scientific explanation. Anyone who watches a flower bloom, holds a new-born baby, gazes at the night sky or contemplates the ocean senses a life force flowing through us, an energy field of which we are all a part. But to explain why, our intellect is of little use. As Max Planck, Nobel Prize winner for physics, wrote:

‘Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.’

My logoHow can a finite being possibly understand the Infinite? Should we even try? Isn’t human intelligence too limited to encompass anything so vast? Muslims understand this completely. Allah, the creative force, is beyond description. Allah can’t be seen or heard, has no shape or form and no gender, but has always existed, will always exist and knows everything that can be known.

The creative force can’t be detected through our five senses. It can’t be seen or heard and has no smell, taste or texture. It can only be inferred through advanced mathematics and sophisticated scientific instruments.

Much of the physical world is beyond the range of human sensory parameters. Dogs can hear and smell things we can’t, eagles have much better sight, bats sense radar-like vibrations we cannot, and we know from looking into a microscope that there are infinitesimal organisms living on our skin and in our bodies which we can never see with the naked eye.

If so little of the material world falls within our sensory parameters, how much harder is it to visualise intelligence or an energy field! Take electricity. We can’t see, hear, taste or smell it, but we know it exists. We can put it to good use. Similarly, we can’t detect a creative force through our senses but we can observe the effects. When we appreciate that there is more to life than meets the eye we have taken a big step towards grasping our spiritual nature.

There is only one prevailing power in the universe, the one that set off the Big Bang and brought our universe into existence. It flows through every atom and every cell of every living thing, through our bodies, activating our minds.

There is no absence of life, potential or intelligence anywhere, fortunately, for we are dependent on it for everything, including our very existence.

©David Lawrence Preston,21.6.18

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