Macbeth: ‘Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased [of guilt]?’
Doctor: ‘Therein the patient must minister to himself’.
Do you ever feel guilty? Do you still feel guilty about stuff you did yesterday – or even 50 years ago? Ever thought about why? You choose to feel guilty in order to prove to yourself you are a good person. How crazy is that?
You choose to feel guilty because you did something (or didn’t do something) that violates the self-image you have created to compensate for the primal existential fear inside that you are an evil person, a sinner, unworthy even to lick the slime off a slug.
Confused? Yes, it’s very tricky in there. From the minute we are born, often without even intending to, in order to protect us from harm and keep us under control, society programs us into adopting a self-concept that we are essentially ‘bad’.
According to a UCLA study, by the time the average child is 10 years old, they’ve heard the words ‘no or don’t’ over 1.4 million times.
At the same time, our innate defence mechanism attempts to cover over that existential fear with a cunningly-contrived self-image. This is the false ‘mask’ we wear that tries to convince us we are not bad, and tells the world we are nice, good, and deserving of approval.
Thus, If we do something that supports our worst fear (I am evil), we are lured by the ego to feel guilty about it, because in its pathological way, it thinks ‘if I can cancel out the bad by replacing it with something that proves I’m good, then I don’t have to change my behaviour and I don’t have to look inside and challenge the veracity of my self-concept’.
The big problem is the ego compulsively believes you have to feel bad in order to feel good about yourself. Religious belief often says you must feel remorse before God will forgive you!! The even bigger problem is none of this is true!. It is all horseshit. It is not true we are bad – let alone ‘evil’. And the self-image of ‘I am not a bad person, really’ is a meagre shadow of the goodness and perfection of your true self silently observing this charade being played out in your life.
As dramatised by Lady Macbeth, this kind of guilt becomes a disease that will eventually kill you. Nothing serious, of course. But it doesn’t do it quickly. It will drive you into all sorts of addictive, compulsive patterns, and dis-ease, in the futile attempt to numb out the pain and ignore the only remedy there is for guilt – the inner work of self-forgiveness.
Psycho-spiritually, true guilt occurs before we do the action. It’s our inner guidance forewarning us. Obsessive guilt post hoc is an optional, self-inflicted punishment that serves no moral, spiritual nor psychological purpose. Even scripture says we cannot get into heaven if we’re burdened down with guilt. If you read Genesis with your eyes open, you’ll see that it is Guilt that is the ‘original sin’ – not disobedience! Guilt is unnecessary, self-indulgent, self-pitying, life-destroying, reckless, dangerous, immature, self-harming behaviour.
Normal, in other words.
Psycho-spiritually (as opposed to religiously) God (the indwelling soul) does not judge us ever, at all. Judgment and punishment are not attributes of the divine. And, according to the symbolism in Revelation, each and every one of us is already forgiven for everything we’ve ever done or ever will do anyway. A big part of our spiritual purpose then, is to learn self-forgiveness.
I’m constantly working on my deeply encrusted guilts – and my new ones. We’ve all done some dreadful shit in our lives at some time: either by design or by default. How do you stop feeling guilty? How do you forgive yourself? Thereby hangs a tale.
If you’re sincerely asking those questions, you’ve already begun the process. Add some honest self-reflection by way of sensitively-guided-missile-questions, and sincerely declare ‘I forgive myself for judging myself for…’ (e.g. allowing my little foal to get injured, for being too intimidated by someone else’s opinion, and on and on till you hit the deep core of the pain) you’re on your way to a life of emotional freedom – and spiritual liberation too – if this lies in your destiny.
You deserve to free yourself from guilt right now.
‘Nothing is either good or bad. But thinking makes it so.’ – Hamlet
Pointing the self-righteous finger of judgment is the primary symptom of false-self-identification with ego. Judging is a core addiction that causes all the resentment, hatred, and conflict from marital bickering to nuclear war. Judging is an insidious delusion because it distorts all our perceptions. We cannot see ‘what is’, only what is relative to something else and some hard-wired fantasy standard of so-called ‘perfection’. If there is one thing that keeps us prisoners of crippling dissatisfactions – it is judging.
Judging polarises ourselves and others as : good or evil, right or wrong, better or worse. It includes blaming, finding fault, flattering, exaggerating, and all the varieties of this bipolar sado-masochistic game that sucks away the life-blood of humanity. This is why I loathe with burning fury TV shows like ‘The Apprentice’, ‘Strictly’, ‘Bake Off’, ‘Master Chef’ and the endless sickening obsession with competing, winning, and enjoying the spectacle of people being judged as if we were Romans watching Christians devoured by lions. The dubious joys of judging go all the way back to Adam and Eve. Remember that ‘apple’? No, there is NO APPLE mentioned anywhere in Genesis – let alone in the garden of Eden!
What they ate, as it were, was ‘the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. This is a mystical metaphor for ‘tasting the bitter-sweet venom of the Serpent’. Instantly, mankind became addicted to the compulsive, delusional, pathological drive of judging good and evil / right from wrong. And in so doing, created what Shakespeare calls ‘the monstrous birth’ that lives to this day inside our heads, alongside our true self – the false self, aka the ego.
We are born innocent, naturally knowing, and powerful beyond measure. As the burgeoning mind and emotions develop and we are ‘educated’ by society, the ego is formed. And, just like Adam and Eve, the original soul, is deposed by the mortal coils of the serpentine consciousness, we become hopelessly addicted to the knowledge of ‘good and evil’. And, because energy follows thought, as we judge so does our world become utterly contaminated with the pollution of negative thinking and its utter futility.
See how insidious judging is – I can’t even enjoy a good rant without instantly becoming its victim myself. I am now judging judging! And my spell-checker refuses to let me ignore the repeated word, and I am forced to suffer the indignity of a stupid red line in my pristine text – aaargh! I am suffering the eternal dilemma. I get my ‘fix’ from the glory of self-righteous superiority, but immediately suffer the stress, and strain of dumping a bucket of adrenaline into my blood stream, requiring me to seek another ‘fix’ of righteous indignation before I fall into an exhausted heap.
See? I am now falling down the plughole to hell. How can I stop myself judging so I can be happy?
I can’t. it’s impossible to stop the judging machine. It is the very nature of the mind, the emotions, the ego. What I can do, however, is transcend it. I must step back and observe the process from a higher level of consciousness – even imagining I am above it or out of it begins to dissolve and dissipate the toxic energy field of judging.
This process is variously called by the ancient masters as: ‘acceptance’, ‘compassion’, ‘forgiveness’, ‘neutrality’, ‘detachment’, ‘coming present’, ‘letting go‘, ‘relaxing’, ‘being patient’, etc.’.
These are not the attributes of the ego. They are the attributes of the true self. The true self is right here, right now, freely available – if you’re willing to look, listen, breathe, and wait a wee while.
If you can learn how to tap into your true self, when your ego gets you ensnared in a judging binge, it’s so much easier to get the hell out of it.
You can do this now.
Main Road to Misery, High Road to Hell: False Identification With The Ego
‘To be – or not to be – that is the question’ – Hamlet
Most people don’t. Most people cannot. Most people totally unconsciously identify themselves in terms of their social conditioning, beliefs and the expectations put on them by others? Meaning, you might reasonably define yourself as: I am a man, I am English, I am thin, I am a millionaire, I am unhappy, I am Jewish, I am an alcoholic, I am an engineer, I am a feminist, I am black, I am gay, and on and on and on and on… defining yourself by specific external reference points. These reference points are supremely compelling. They are also ‘valid’ in a sense of the word. There is often objective, scientific, empirical evidence to support them. There are others (maybe millions of you) who share the same sense of identity. You get to ‘belong’ to a group, a nation, a culture, a religion, a movement, a cause. You could be on a mission. You could have a ‘purpose’. You could achieve great things. You could be a contender.
But this is still not ‘the truth’ of who you really are. Identity is not the same as the true self. It’s not innate. Identity is an adopted self-concept. Learned. Conditioned. It symbolises the true self, but only exists as it’s shadow. It can flood you with emotions (that go down as soon as they go up) but it cannot give you the stillness and security of true joy. Thus, the sobering reality is that the more you are attached to your self-concept the less authentic happiness you are fooled into settling for – because true happiness cannot show up when we focus on a falsehood. Because I say so? No! Look around. Look at the News. Look in the mirror. Look at the scales. Look at the suicide statistics!
False Identification is the primary cause of all your pain and suffering, and all – as Shakespeare said in the ‘to be or not to be‘ speech – the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to’. I’d go even further and assert that ‘False Identification’ is now and always has been the root cause of all human suffering and conflict – globally. All the other ‘habits’ are mere symptoms of this overarching dilemma.
One way to begin to exit the dilemma, and enter deep, lasting happiness is to shift the importance of these False Identifications from ‘definition’ to ‘expression’. To detach yourself from them and acknowledge that ‘who you really are’ is far, far greater than the personality, religion, nationality or job you do. For example you could say, I am expressing myself for now as ‘black, gay, woman, Christian, feminist, fashion designer’, or whatever. This begs the question, ‘then who am I really?’ And, by asking this question from that place of authentic enquiry, you are now opening up a higher level of your consciousness to allow the truth to speak to you in whatever way is perfect for who you are, where you are, and what you need to deal with in your life.
These are not the easiest shifts to make and questions to ask. If you are at a ‘life fulcrum’ and would like some assistance, then do, please, get in touch.
If you’re interested in how Shakespeare has, under the noses of the orthodoxy, sneaked in the ‘forbidden’ keys to deep, lasting happiness, and spiritual fulfilment – read this astonishing book: Shakespeare’s Revelation.
How to transform money from a symbol of happiness to the experience
‘Sometimes money costs too much’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Only when you put your own happiness first, can happiness last.
The mission of ‘happiness first consulting’ is to enable you to choose to be who you really are – and experience the authentic, deep, lasting happiness that is already inside you.
Since biblical times, the pursuit of money seems to have brought happiness to some and misery to many. The saying in Luke that it is ‘easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle that a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’, is a metaphor of detachment and humility. The ‘eye of the needle’ was a small gate into Jerusalem through which camels could only pass if they took off their burden and went on their knees. It’s not the having (or not) of riches that weighs us down, but our attachment to materiality and the lust that drives us to seek in vain where happiness does not lie.
The power of money?
How does a pile of paper, a box of coin, or a number in a bank account gain so much power over mankind? Because we give over our power to something that does not exist! Money is only a symbol. A symbol of energy. A reflection of our relationship with ourselves in that area. And often a symbol of what we want more than everything else in life.
But symbols are not the reality. Symbols represent the reality. For example: a menu is a symbol of food. It can increase your appetite, but would you eat the menu to satisfy your hunger? The menu points the way – until you participate in the eating of the reality and have the experience. Similarly just having money can give you a thrill, but cannot give you lasting happiness. But your desire for money points the way to the fulfilment you seek. The clearer you are about what you really want enables you to use the symbol as a wayshower to the reality you’re after.
But there is a catch. Inside us we have two very different ‘selves’ – one false, the other true. The false self is insatiably driven. The true self is already fulfilled. If you ask your ‘false self’ what it wants, it will lead you into stress, burnout and bitter disappointment. Only if you ask your ‘true self’ will you be led towards your destiny and ultimate fulfilment. We call this quest ‘putting happiness first’, because only putting happiness first, makes happiness last.
The false self is loud, urgent and urges you into fools’ gold. The true self is quiet, patient and leads you to your highest good.
Whether you live in a castle or a cardboard box, lasting happiness is equally available to all. Likewise, rich or poor, all misery follows, like the night, the day, from erroneous identification with the ‘false self’ and it’s seven deadly habits:
2) Feeling guilty
4) Controlling relationships
5) Weaponising weakness
6) Withholding generosity (or being profligate)
7) Seeking revenge
The axiom of ‘happiness first’
‘To be most accursed, rich, only to be wretched,
thy great fortunes are made thy chief afflictions’ – Flavius, Timon of Athens
The axiom of ‘happiness first consulting’ is that you are already infinitely wealthy and blissfully happy right now. This is also the hidden underlying principle throughout the works of the spiritual master, poet and playwright, William Shakespeare. In this series of blogs, I shall be using famous Shakespeare quotes in a soul-centric way to illustrate this essential truth.
When you were born, you were literally a bundle of pure joy. Your soul, your true self, exists in a state of freedom, detachment, understanding, compassion, unconditional love, and instantaneous forgiveness. But this natural state of being has been ‘sicklied o’er with the pale caste of thought’. Over 7 billion men, women, and children on this planet are, in reality, blissfully happy. But if you look at the 10 O’clock news, or perhaps in the mirror, this is far from what you see and hear.
What the hell is going on? What the hell are you focusing your attention on that robs you of the bliss, joy, happiness, and fulfilment that is freely available right here inside you – if only you would look?
And, more important, what really is it you need to re-focus on to restore and enjoy the original, pure state of happiness that lasts forever and will never go away?
The next blog in the series summarises the fundamental, existential choice we all have, but few make, that takes out out of the dilemmas of materiality and into the wellspring of happiness already inside you.
It is indisputable that whoever wrote ‘Shakespeare’ was a genius. It’s also obvious that he (or she, or they) wanted the authorship to remain anonymous – for a very long time. How would a genius maintain his cover for eternity? By doing what, say, Agatha Christie, or Conan Doyle, the genii of whodunnits, would do – muddy the water, fill it with red herrings, send us on a wild goose chase. Mischievous deception on a global level is itself a sign of genius.
What is genius?
From Latin, the genius was the guiding spirit, tutelary deity, or ‘daimon’ of a person.
O dear, not the kind of definition academics and scientists like to grapple with! No neat little box to put a daimon in. But even without understanding the deeper meaning of the all-pervasive mystical symbolism (from Midsummer Night’s Dream to The Tempest, via Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice through to Twelfth Night and Hamlet) it’s obvious that the magical, mystical and mysterious forces of nature and spirit were very close to the heart of the author.
However, in excavating the plethora of dangerously ‘heretical’, biblical and mystical symbols, it becomes pretty obvious the author was a spiritual giant, an enlightened being with a very important message to us souls trapped on earth. Elucidated in my book Shakespeare’s Revelation, he defies the orthodoxy and dogma and offers us the (forbidden) key to the liberation of the soul from the prison of the mind and this world of heartache and the thousand natural shocks.
Why the big mystery and conspiracy?
Apart from the dire consequences of being dubbed a heretic (torture, execution, and destruction of all the works) one of the key attributes of mastership is humility. Like Bassanio, who, to find the image of the divine (Portia) eschews the glamour and falseness of gold and silver to choose simple ‘LEAD’, a true master has no need for praise, or recognition.
To be or not to be – that is the question, n’est-ce pas?
Click this link for a 3-minute revelation.
Contact me, Paul, personally to explore these revelations more deeply.
Why would Shakespeare name his great farce 12th Night – when it seems to have nothing to do with The (Christian doctrine of ) Epiphany? Hidden in symbols, in the poetry, in invisible ink, is a cutting satire of Christian dogma, the dangerously heretical thread linking the sub-text of all 37 plays and clarifying 2,000 years of misinformation. Dare you see it too? Prepare to have many of your beliefs and dis-beliefs confronted.
Here is (another) allegory of how the (true) Epiphany was the restoration of the the ‘music of the soul’ lost to mankind by the betrayal of Adam in the beginning. Viola represents the instrument by which the veil of darkness is lifted, and (the choice of) love, joy and forgiveness given to Olivia as the symbol of all mankind.
The Epiphany (12th Night)
Given the title, let’s assume this is the context for viewing the play. The Gospel says that after the birth of the Christ, the baby prophesied to be ‘king’, was laid in a manger and shown to the shepherds and the Magi: who symbolically represent the full spectrum of humankind from the lowliest to the most exalted. The Magi tricked Herod, the jealous, tyrant king, to prevent him murdering the baby ‘king’. He exacted his revenge through what is known as ‘the slaughter of the innocents’.
Before we trace the hidden story, let’s contemplate the following banquet of additional symbolism:
‘In the beginning was the Word… And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.’ – John 1
The backstory implies the agency of ‘wind and rain’ (Tempest) to birth the twin souls, Viola and Sebastian, into the land of Illyria. Echoing the ‘curse’ of Adam and Eve in Genesis, they become lost to each other, both believing the other is dead. ‘Wind and rain’, celebrated in the finale, is actually ancient biblical symbolism for ‘the Word of God’.
‘If music be the food of love, play on’ – Orsino
So often, the opening line or scene has cryptic allusions to the sub-text. Here is no exception.
Orsino is an anagram of ‘orison’ meaning ‘prayer’. Mankind’s prayer for liberation from suffering?
In the context of the Epiphany, the ‘food of love’ suggests the Eucharist: the bread, the body of Christ, the Word made flesh, ‘eaten’ in remembrance of the Christ action. Now, significantly, the body is revealed for the first time to the world in a manger (French: to eat), a vessel for holding food. A ‘manger’ also symbolises the ‘Holy Grail’, the vessel containing the bread and wine, the body and blood, sound and light, reuniting for the holy communion.
‘I had rather hear you to solicit that [that you love me] than music from the spheres’ – Olivia
The music of the spheres is the music (mystical sounds e.g. as described in The Tempest) said to emanate from the soul and draw us home to the Godhead (See: Lorenzo – Merchant, Ferdinand – Tempest, et al).
Olivia seems to symbolise the archetype of the soul (native hue) of all mankind veiled, (sicklied o’er) and hidden behind the shroud of darkness, death, melancholy and sadness (Hamlet, Antonio). She is immediately drawn to hear the young ‘man’ called Cesario – i.e. Viola disguised as a man. Cesario means King.
‘We will hear this divinity” – Olivia
A Viola could well be the name of one of the ‘thousand twangling instruments’ heard by Caliban in The Tempest. A fitting instrument on which to play the soul’s music. Viola, herself, seems to represent the ‘Christ’ sent to reunite the three aspects of God, the trinity: the love, the sound and the light, having been lost in man since the beginnings of time. The awareness of the sound and light of the soul reawakens the love in the hearts of man as the tyrant ruling our inner world is vanquished.
As soon as Olivia sees and hears the divinity in ‘Cesario’ her lost ability to know love is reawakened.
Malvolio, meaning ill-wisher, or one of mal-intent. As notably as was Falstaff (False Self)Malvolio is lampooned mercilessly. Yet the actual language used indicts him clearly as the Satan.
‘The devil, a puritan that he is…’ – Maria
The names Viola and Olivia are close anagrams of each other and each taken from the same letters of ‘Malvolio’.
Feste, the ‘fool’, appropriately so, means both ‘feast’ and ‘celebrate’.
The hidden story
When Viola, the Christ (soul) is revealed to Olivia (mankind) the shroud of darkness and melancholy is lifted and her heart is reawakened with love.
As Olivia’s love is transforming her, her servant Maria engenders a plan to bring down the devil, Malvolio. She tricks him into bringing his false-self to the fore (obsequious smiling) plays to his ‘greatness’, and fools him into being cross-gartered. Cross-gartered, a double-entendre repeated several times, implies ‘tied to a cross’! Thus Maria and her three stoogies ‘crucify’ Malvolio and consign him to a comic representation of hell, ‘the bottomless pit’, as stated the Revelation.
“I say this house is as dark as ignorance though ignorance were as dark as hell” – Malvolio
“And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit.”- Rev. 20:2-3
The heresy (freedom of choice) Shakespeare teaches us (e.g., Macbeth, Merchant, Hamlet, Henry V, et al) is the irony that when Jesus the man died on the cross it fulfilled the Mosaic law and terminated the rule of Satan. The crucifixion was a futile attempt to kill the Christ, but the resurrection of the soul empowered the consciousness of all mankind – regardless of belief. The fate of Shylock further clarifies this theological gem – showing us how we now have the choice between grace (mercy, and forgiveness) or revenge (the law).
“Alas poor fool, how they have baffled thee!” – Olivia to Malvolio
As the vanquishing of the prince of darkness and mal-intent is complete, Viola and her twin are ‘resurrected’. They are also re-united; symbolising the reuniting of the bread and the wine, the body and the blood, the Sound and the Light with the love. The Trinity (Love, Sound, Light) is again complete. Forgiveness to all is given for the mistakes and confusions made as we stumble in the darkness looking for the light and sound of the soul. Love, joy and happiness abounds.
Malvolio fails to see the humour and vows revenge on all mankind. Finally, a song is sung by Feste celebrating ‘the wind and the rain’, the primal sounds of The Creation, The Tempest, the Word, the music, the wind from heaven, the sounds of the ‘waters’ that created everyone and everything in the beginning (Genesis, John), and reigns once more upon the earth breathing new life and love into the soul of all mankind.
“A great while ago the world began, with hey-ho, the wind and the rain;” – Feste
FOR A MORE THOROUGH DISCUSSION OF THESE THEMES READ SHAKESPEARE’S REVELATION: HIS HIDDEN KEY TO SPIRITUAL FULFILMENT. BY PAUL HUNTING
TO ARRANGE TALKS, JUST MAKE CONTACT:
‘Seek first to become thin within, thence to become thin without.’ – Anon
I wanted to write a blog about my recent weight-loss success. Overweight and eating issues are such a major source of misery and hopelessness, I hope my personal experience may inspire some people to transcend the dogma of magazine ‘pseudoscience’ and take charge of their own personal destiny.
As I said, this is a personal blog, not a research paper. Although weight/eating issues can be life-threatening, this is written in a casual, light-hearted style for reasons of brevity and readability. Each little paragraph probably deserves its own book – even library. If you want to know more, get in touch and it will be my pleasure to direct you to some of my source material.
WHEN I SAW THIS I KNEW IT WAS TIME TO GET SERIOUS
2 MONTHS LATER – 2 STONE LIGHTER
My decision to relaunch my coaching brand as ‘happiness first consulting’ coincided with the shock of being described by a client as ‘a burly Englishman’ and seeing a picture of myself confirming the description.
Several years of avoiding some difficult feelings at the cost of my health, wealth and happiness was officially over.
One of my core values is to go beyond the integrity call of ‘walk the talk’ to the greater challenge of ‘canter the banter’. I never offer any programme to a client that I do not personally validate.
Could I canter my own banter and validate the mantra ‘put happiness first’ in one of my toughest problem areas? If I did, then it would not only reward me with losing a ton of unwanted, harmful, adiposity, not only transform me into living proof that my new positioning really does work, but also give me the unshakeable experience and self-confidence to back up my new level of work with my clients.
First step – assemble the key ingredients of a successful, life-changing project. I treated myself as if I were my own client. These techniques apply to all goal manifestation strategies that take you out of the comfort zone into the destiny galaxy:
- Spiritual attunement, guidance and protection
- Understanding your ‘payoff’
- Homoeopathic support for the hypothalamus
- Tracking systems
- Inner child work and reprogramming
- Behaviour modification and rewards
- Support network
- Acting as if…
- Journal work
- Law of return
- Next steps
Spiritual attunement, guidance and protection
This is too easy, really. Anyone can do it. Very few do. All you do is ask inside ‘for the ‘Light’ for highest good to take place’ and as you let go and let Spirit do its thing, it’s time to awaken to the intuition, coincidences, and serendipity that come into your life. The Light is universal spiritual energy that, way below conscious awareness, regardless of belief, sustains all life, and is freely available to all who ask. Check it out for yourself!
At a deeper level, the axiom of ‘happiness first’ is that you are already happy. Who you really are is a soul. The nature of the soul is joy, fulfilment, and happiness beyond measure. This means it’s not that you need something or someone to ‘make’ you happy, you need to identify and eliminate those things that rob you of the happiness that’s already present. Asking for ‘the light’ automatically initiates a soul-attunement and allows space for the action of grace to participate.
Understanding your ‘payoff’
If you ask, ‘why do I keep doing something (e.g. overeating) when I know it makes things worse?’ the answer is usually because at a deep, unconscious level you are making a choice in the belief it will give you something you need (e.g. comfort, security, approval, etc.). You are always making the best choice available to you in the moment, so it follows, like the night the day, that to make a more effective, empowering choice what you really need is an effective choice to satisfy that need. A good coach should be able to help you discover this for yourself.
Homeopathic support for the hypothalamus
In cahoots with a startlingly low calorie regimen, I used homeopathic HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin) that tells the hypothalamus to access deep layers of stored fat to burn to replace the missing energy. Instead of feeling hungry and ratty, you just feel normal energy levels and a surprising loss of cravings for food.
If you drop down to a strict ‘no fat, no carb’ regime of 500 calories a-day, you can lose around 1lb each day. This makes the transition to the maintenance phase quite a jolt. I just cut down very significantly without becoming obsessive and was well happy to lose around 4-5 lbs-a-week. I eliminated 90% of the alcohol, carbs and saturated fats I used to indulge in. This helped build in a new preference and habit for a diet that, with slight modifications, I can enjoy as a long-term lifestyle change. True success is all in the sustainability. Now, if I have a big bowl of pasta and a few glasses of Beaujolais and stray up into a few extra pounds over my new baseline weight, it’s no biggee to downsize for a day or so to rebalance.
Inner child work and reprogramming
Call it the inner child, lower self, subconscious mind, basic self or whatever you like, but this is the ‘lower’ level of sub-consciousness that is a kind of ‘inner 5-year-old me’ who is programmed from birth to hold onto beliefs, habits, and compulsions. To lose weight permanently, and/or release compulsive patterns and change lifetime habits, you have to understand what ‘payoff’ (symbol, compensation, hoped-for reward) you get from the self-destructive behaviours, and enrol the basic self into the game. This habitual drive is the auto-pilot that holds you on course, if you don’t change this deep level, you’re just going on holiday – soon enough you’ll be back home in Glutton-on-Avon, South Pigshire – overeating for England.
I was an only child and had to spend a lot of time on my own. I also learned to love food and cooking at a very early age. Cooking and eating delicious food became my ‘best friend’. To this day, whenever I feel alone or abandoned I look in the fridge or the pasta jar for my old pal.
Thus, armed with this conscious awareness I could make more effective choices when that urge came up. Of course it’s not easy. But, every day I listened to a wonderful, deep, guided meditation called ‘Body Balance’. This ‘talks’ direct to the basic self in a caring, loving way and gives it positive new direction and beliefs with which to replace the old strategy. You ain’t going to change unless you have something of greater value with which to replace the old pattern, is you?
One essential way to keep the basic self in the game is to track progress regularly. Like achieving any goal, you have to know where you really are now, and where you want to be. It’s then easy to just take one small step in the direction of the goal. And feel good about it. If you slip up, it’s no big deal, because you’re living so much more in the present.
I used two tracking systems. One was a simple graph of weight loss per day versus my target line.
The other was more creative. I filled a suitcase with books weighing the amount of weight I wanted to lose. As I lost the weight, I’d take out the books and pile them up on the dresser. It’s horrifying how heavy 2 stone feels. It’s wonderful to feel it on the outside and know I’m not schlepping this around with me any more. Notice the well-deserved smug expression on the right here. That pile of books had been under my shirt for 3 years!
Behaviour modification and rewards
The major behaviour change I made was ‘putting happiness first – not food’. Whenever the urge to go off-piste came up, I’d stop, feel the feeling, see if it had useful information for me, and consciously and deliberately choose ‘happiness first’. in this case, a sense of control, and the deep desire to be wearing my ‘skinny clothes’ gathering dust in my wardrobe. Each time I achieved a short term weight loss I’d give myself something special:
A nice riding lesson, new riding gloves, a movie, long hot bubbly baths, watching TV in the morning, all kinds of ‘basic self stuff’ to keep my energy positive and up. And to celebrate my 2-stone lossage, a Greek Island holiday for two!
I am blessed to naturally enjoy exercise. This protocol does not require or advise upping the work the sweat glands have to do. I carried on with my 3 fundamental exercise things: a short daily yoga/ calisthenics and press-up/sit-up routine I’ve been doing for decades; riding 2-3 horses a day (as you do) and swimming 1/2hr+ every week.
If you don’t do any exercise at all – now is a great time to build something enjoyable into your life. It is so important for moving energy, releasing toxins, relaxing, and clearing stuck emotions and depression. Magic!
When we have self-judgments, regrets, painful repressed memories, or resentments, etc. surface they can make us feel very uncomfortable. The easiest way to get rid of those feelings can be found in the fridge, or in a bottle, cigarette pack, or a needle! In choosing to put ‘happiness first’ I committed to sit with those feelings and forgive them as they came up. If it doesn’t work the first time, I just keep saying ‘I forgive myself for judging myself for…’ until it stops plaguing me. This can be a lifetime’s work! But the less emotional weight we carry around, the more agile we become in dealing with the slings and arrows of life.
As I said before, when I first saw my ‘burly’ picture, I hated how I looked. I realised I was hating my image every time I saw it in the mirror. This is not helpful. It drives you down the plughole of hell. The worse you make yourself feel, the more you need to eat to feel better!
The challenge is to love yourself just as you are now – unconditionally. If you say ‘I’ll love myself when I stop this behaviour and lose weight’ then you’ll never get to love yourself. Accepting ‘what is’ and self-loving are the greatest healers and change-agents on the planet.
Affirmations – energy follows thought
Part of the re-programming and goal-achievement is the use of affirmations. (Affirm-actions). Like mind-muscles, they get firmer and more effective the more you exercise them. They must be positive, present-active, and empowering. Getting them spot on is an art. I had a dozen or so I would read through and say every day. But the one that really made me tingle is ‘I am wearing my skinny clothes’. It just popped up. And I think it was given to me by my basic self because that was the thing it really wanted. It’s no good ‘moralising’ or filling it with scientific reasons why you should eat healthily – the basic self doesn’t necessarily give a shit about that. Those reasons are also important – but more for the adult self. You have to build a fun, loving relationship with the basic self as well – or you are doomed.
Visualisations are the other side of the coin to affirmations. If you’re a visual person you must be able to ‘see’ the new body image you want to have. For me I need to feel it, see it, and hear the admiration and acknowledgment from my support team, in my own mind.
I am often much more effective when I have a group to support me. But this time I chose to enlist the support of my wife and my own steely resolve. I must confess, since moving to the countryside with my horses, I can easily slip into feelings of isolation and loneliness. I love hanging out with my horses, and they challenge my comfort zone beyond all measure, but the conversation is a tad one-sided. Nevertheless, I had so much of my own inner support with this DIY programme, it was rather fun to suddenly show up and shock people with the new me.
Acting as if…
Acting as if…is a powerful supplement to any manifestation process. As soon as I could, I would squeeze myself into my skinny clothes and ‘pretend’ they fitted. Sure enough, before I knew it, they did. Again, this supports the affirmations and goal-setting and keeps the basic self feeling involved in the game.
Writing stuff down is a great way to get clarity and clear out unconscious crap. I love to write down my wins, and things I’m grateful for. I am fascinated by dreams and adore contemplating them at my leisure. I relish the interpretation of symbols though in-tuition. Journal work is brilliant – especially for looking back on progress and finding more and more reasons to be grateful – just for being alive.
The law of return
From a soul-centred perspective, all our habits, patterns, fixations, compulsions, etc. are perfectly designed for our individual soulic learning and evolution: balancing past-life actions and having new experiences. An aspect of this idea (that is empirically verifiable) is that whenever we overcome a negative pattern, the urge to return to the old familiarity will cycle back on us. Therefore in around 3 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and a year, we can expect to be strongly lured back into the old pattern. If we can overcome this temptation for a long-enough period we can eventually step free.
Remember, the cell-level memory will still store the neural and sub-atomic pathways for 7-11 years. As the masters say, ‘perfect freedom is perfect discipline’. And ‘the price of freedom is eternal vigilance’.
The confidence I gained with this life-changing project has inspired me to apply the same levels of intent and commitment to my brand relaunch. To rebuild a client base and ‘following’ from scratch at age 70 is going to take even more determination and support. I am investing in myself, and building renewed levels of health, wealth, and happiness (yes, that’s an affirmation, btw). You’re welcome to join me on my journey.
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“You changed my life.” – by Ineke Pitts, Regional Director, South Asia MDF Training and Consulting
Four words, said with sincerity and a beaming smile, a standing ovation from an apprentice life coach.
It was the end of a fairly intensive four days of HAT (Horse Assisted Transformation) the ‘train the trainer’ programme created by Paul Hunting. Paul is author of: ‘Why talk to a Guru? When you can whisper to a horse’ , his original, unique approach to ‘horse-assisted learning’.
I was on cloud nine, my practice client had come to a very deep understanding about her true self, her fears and limiting beliefs. She was preparing to take the next step in her life with a powerful affirmation to anchor her strength. Through Paul’s quite unique process, she had reconnected with the unlimited power of her authentic self – all in one day.
It all sounds to be good to be true. As a management consultant and leadership trainer of 25 years international experience, alarm bells were ringing and bullshit radar working in overdrive. I know, it sounds incredible, tacky even, but it really, really works!
As part of our own learning, the budding equi-coaches are required to experience the transformational process first-hand and directly from Paul: it is immensely powerful. It is fundamentally, a one-day experience with an optional follow up process. At the end of the process, I felt changed; three months later the change has stuck and the experience inspired me to sign up to become an apprentice of a transformational process requiring multiple skill sets including natural horsemanship, soul-centred coaching, and development of personal soul awareness.
There are three factors that make this process so effective:
1. firstly there is the process which Paul, a spiritual psychologist, has formulated, tried and tested over 20 years and thousands of clients;
2. secondly there is the horse, a perfect mirror of authentic and inauthentic behavior, un-burdened by ego the horse instinctively responds to us according to our level of authenticity: how we show up either as ego-self or
as true self;
3. the third factor is the coach. Paul; a master of nuance, picking up the true meanings hidden between the words, the minutest of signals, hesitations, eye-movements, body language and the tell-tale words which reveal what is really going on. The combination is unique and defies explanation; this is something that needs to be experienced first-hand in order to understand it.
I feel honored and privileged to have had the opportunity to learn from the master. Paul has a brilliance about him that is uncommon, a diamond in the rough of a brusque and burly English countryman with a sense of humour on the bawdy side and a rare gift to intuit the mysticism in hidden places.
I enjoyed an intense but deeply spiritual four days with Paul, his five beautiful, well-bred, well-loved horses and the patient and generous hospitality of his lovely wife Geri.
In April this year, Paul and Geri came to visit me in Sri Lanka.
Working with an unknown herd of untrained horses and naïve and untrained assistants, he conducted workshops in natural horsemanship and several horse-assisted, executive coaching sessions, including with me. He rounded off the week with an impromptu explanation on ‘join up’ to the Sri Lanka Mounted Police (who spoke no English!). Rising to the challenge, a spontaneous charade ensued which involved his ‘cantering’ around the lecture room, making horse-like noises, the memory of which will stay imprinted for a lifetime in the hearts and minds of those fortunate enough to witness it.
There is real magic in Paul’s work which taps into ancient ways of knowing. He reminds us of who we really are and helps us tap into the unlimited power of The Soul that we are and the God within us that is perfect and omnipotent.
I’m not sure what to do next with the knowledge I now hold. This is too important to ignore, or pass off as just another life coaching method. Paul’s work is important; it holds a special relevance in the god-forsaken world we find ourselves in, plus I know from first and second-hand experience that it really works. My task is to convince others that this is important work and to persuade my own company to support me in pursuing this new line of work towards creating better people and ultimately a better world for all of us.
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‘I don’t think I really came into the equation. I’d got so used to putting everyone else before me I’d lost touch with what I wanted’.
‘Can you feel the gratitude I feel towards you? don’t you see what a difference you have made? Can you imagine what probably would have become of me without you? It truly has been a momentous experience. Thank you. it has been inspirational.’ – Caroline Peters
Caroline came to me as a personal (non-corporate) client. She’d sat next to a guy on a plane who was still raving about his day with me and the horses. She knew she needed to experience the magic for herself.
She is an intelligent, talented English woman, married for over 20 years to a German, with whom they had one 17 year-old daughter. They were all living in Germany. She flew over for a day – ostensibly to ‘restore her self-confidence’. She wanted to go full-time as a translator and felt worried about handling it all after having been a home-based mum for 17 years. Fair enough.
I’m now sitting here leafing through the 9-page, hand-written letter of gratitude she sent me after 6 months of intensive coaching on Skype.
(N.B. that ‘divorce my husband’ was in no way the stated reason for the session.)
‘Paul, you are the first person I can remember who has spent time with me, wanting something for me. You were very present, but not opposite me like most people. You were next to me. Sometimes it felt you were me, only a few steps further ahead in understanding. You let me be me and I hadn’t been just me in years. I’d always played a role, always doing what was expected of me. I could not imagine it was ok to stand my own ground with Serendipity. I felt great joy and I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did. I don’t want ‘authority’, I want ‘gegenseitigentet’, ‘reciprocation’.
The first hour or so of the ‘horsejoy’ day is about looking at how to transform ‘deep existential fears into positive outcomes’ in a key relationship. In particular how we generate ‘perfect reasons’ for settling for a quality of happiness way below what we deserve and what is possible.
When I feel the client is clear on these vital parameters, I design an exercise with one of my horses that acts as a metaphor for working through the real blocks relationship. The outcome of a session is profound existential learning. You learn ‘who you really are’ and how to choose to be your true self continuously. You also learn to recognise ‘who you are really not’ so you can empower yourself when your ‘false self’ undermines you. These two key reference points open the way to the ongoing, advanced work.
I asked Caroline with whom did she have a key relationship that she would most like to influence more effectively. What she said seemed incongruent with her body language. She hesitated…her breathing rate went up a tad, her eyes went a little pink and darted to-and-fro. She chose the guy she was doing part-time work for – it hardly seemed like a momentous relationship. I could have challenged her right then. , but my motto is ‘let the horse do it’. So I let it go and waited for my ‘co-facilitator’ to do it more effectively.
This being Serendipity, my gorgeous, 16hh 2”, dark bay, thoroughbred mare.
When a horse has a free choice about whether or not to follow your directions, they will only do so if they respect you as an authentic leader. They will ‘test’ the clarity of your intention and congruence of your energy – if they can ‘lead you around’ then you are left holding a limp rope and the familiar feeling you get in the chosen key relationship.
This feeling showed up for Gillian almost immediately. Her word was ‘helpless’. I asked her who it reminded her of being with and she said sheepishly, ‘Stephan, my husband!’.
Her outcome soon morphed into an emotional desire to ‘save my marriage’. But no matter how much she tried to sell this idea to Serendipity, she was not buying it. This told me Caroline did not really want it in her heart. It turned out she was hanging on for several key reasons: she felt ‘the promise I’d made when I married him was really important. Keeping it (no matter what) was a virtue’. She also felt that ‘there was too much to lose’ if she split up. Number one concern was the impact on Greta, her 17-year-old daughter who idolised her father.
‘Perfect reasons’ indeed!
The sobering reality was, based on his behaviour, Stephan had already divorced her – a long time ago! As soon as she announced her pregnancy, he had become a virtually absent father.
‘I couldn’t for the life of me see why Stephan constantly wanted to be away from us. He had a reputation for going on more (often unnecessary) business trips than anyone else. There are people around me who don’t even know I’m married or that I live with Greta’s father.’
The other reality was that Serendipity would not engage with her until she really stood her ground and put her intentions first. Inside her this meant putting her own happiness, well-being, and fulfilment ahead of taking responsibility for everyone else’s happiness. Only when she authentically claimed her personal leadership strength would Serendipity take any notice. As she took this risk and expanded her ‘comfort zone’, the horse entered into a willing, enthusiastic partnership. She was not a horsewoman, but by the end of the day she was experiencing something even lifelong horse-owners never do.
The question remained: from this newfound place of strength and clarity, could she still rebuild her marriage and family? We began a series of regular Skype coaching sessions.
As they progressed, understandable feelings erupted of betrayal, anger, resentment, and regret at having ‘wasted’ twenty years of her life with a man who did not reciprocate her love. She was livid (and you know what they say about a ‘woman spurned’).
We were in danger of sliding down the helter-skelter to hell. A bitter, acrimonious, lose-lose, revenge-laden divorce with a devastated Greta was looming. I suggested that if she went this way, she really was going to be a victim – big time. Would she be up for transforming the whole scenario into a win-win-win for all three of them?
Over the ensuing 6 months, this remarkably brave, evolved, woman took continuous risks in taking responsibility (not blame) for having ‘allowed’ this situation to fester for 17 years. She worked on forgiving herself and her husband. She risked difficult, direct, honest, open communications with Greta and gave up trying to protect her from the truth. She supported Greta in looking at and dealing in a mature way with this reality of life.
But the biggest ‘healer’ was in reframing the regret of what she felt she lost, into gratitude for what she really had gained.
‘If I hadn’t worked with you, I would have ended up bitter and twisted. You said ‘tell me what you’re grateful to Stephan for’! I thought it was an impossible task. But it wasn’t. there is so much I’m grateful for and doing the exercise completely changed my perspective. I’m letting go my marriage with a feeling of love and gratitude. I don’t want to be married to him anymore but I do care for his happiness. I want him to be happy again. I want to feel happy again (and I do!).’
Last time we spoke she’d got everything she wanted for herself, Stephan and Greta. And, as a bonus, was several months in to a new relationship with a man that really did promise to be ‘the one’!
All relationships end. Life is like that. But it doesn’t need to be the end of your happiness – it really can be the beginning of something new and enriching.
You can have a happy ending and a new beginning with any key relationship. You can have this now.
Ask me how.
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When I first met Bernard, the MD of Huthwaite, he had trouble getting his head round the concept of putting ‘happiness first’. I asked him if he’d ever seen an anxious or depressed baby. No. because when we are born all we really are is a bundle of joy. In our life, first comes happiness. Happiness is who (and how) we really are. The tragedy is how so rapidly, and effectively the pure, original state of happiness gets covered up – or as Shakespeare puts it ‘sicklied o’er with the pale caste of thought’. This, as you’ll see, planted a seed in me for the intervention I was about to be briefed on.
As it happened the Shakespeare reference was apt. Bernard surprised me by openly declaring he was not interested in increasing sales revenue or profitability – business was really good. He actually said he wanted things to be ‘happier’ around the place.
The problem was really about how ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. The partners had been together for over 20 years. Irritations, squabbles, disagreements, and personality clashes had all been ‘sicklied over’ in the interests of ‘getting on with the job in hand’. Unresolved and unforgiven, the detritus of relationshipping had accumulated into a massive pile of submerged crud. AKA ‘resentment’. It was making them all scratchy, impatient and miserable. They were all paying a high personal price for delivering work and making money.
The board had already agreed in principle to having a 5-day retreat in a nice hotel near Chester. They were looking for ‘the right person’ to design and lead the event.
I’d got in front of him because I had already been a client of their famous ‘SPIN’ sales training work. I’d become close with one of the trainers who had also come to one of my ropes-based leadership workshops in the days before horses. (No, not 65 million years BC, but before I had discovered the extraordinary power of working with horses on leadership.)
We definitely clicked. He asked me to submit a proposal. I said ‘no’. Proposals might look like the professional thing to do first – but they can so often be the kiss of death. The first step for me was to spend a couple of days with them in Yorkshire and gently tenderise each of the participants for an hour or so. Then I’d do a design, but probably would not tell them much about it.
Did he trust me enough to go for it? Did he trust himself enough to trust me?
The big smile on my face as I drove home said ‘yes’.
I put together a short questionnaire, gave them each 5-10 mins on the phone, and when I arrived at Huthwaite it was a warm-ish encounter. Just as well. I was still greeted with a fair degree of suspicion, hostility and ‘prove-it-to-me-ness’. Of course, one guy in particular (nicknamed the ‘Rottweiler’) was minus-five on the ‘willingness-to-participate’ scale. There’s always one, isn’t there!
The trouble with resentment is it makes us feel ‘righteous’ – by virtue of ‘them’ being ‘wrong’. Righteous indignation is a major-league addictive drug. It slowly kills you while making you feel like a holy martyr – ‘I’m dying for a good cause – making you feel guilty for all the evil deeds you’ve done!’
It was a very tough couple of days. I felt I’d underestimated the depth of the problem and undervalued the height of my consulting fee. However, a few weeks later, with a couple of trusted co-facilitators, we all met up in said 5-star hotel in Chester.
Ever since I began coaching Top Teams in 1985, I have been unfailingly guided by the same 2-selves (TRUE-FALSE) model of consciousness. The development strategy roughly involves the following steps:
1. First acknowledge the FALSE, the negative feelings, thoughts and self-talk.
2. Drill down to the core self-beliefs driving the negative behaviours and evaluate their verity.
3. Take a risk and break through the comfort zone protecting your false self-image where the original state of happiness resides.
4. Anchor the newly realised state.
5. Expand, challenge and stabilise it.
6. Determine practical next steps.
With the luxury of 5-days to play with, I mixed ingredients including: a ropes course to bring the fears and self-doubts to the surface; a day of psychodrama where they all shared their true selves through personal stories in a dramatic form; and a visit to a nearby children’s ward so they’d have to risk bypassing their minds and inhibitions to communicate authentically with kids in dire need.
When people are given a safe space, a workshop like this becomes an extraordinary, life-changing crucible of understanding and support – resentment and petty differences simply dissolve. One man had acted out and began to heal the moment he witnessed his wife’s fatal skiing accident. A colleague shared an equally moving event when she rescued her dying child and took him to A&E – and yes, this was the same hospital to which I had (unknowingly) arranged the visit!!
This is what some of them said about their experience:
‘I rediscovered parts of myself I really liked. Paul’s programme surpassed all my hopes and expectations for the relationships in the team. And back home I also found myself relating much better with my children! You, the facilitators are beautiful and remarkable people. I feel fortunate to have met and worked with you.’ – Bernard Midgley, Managing Director.
‘We rebuilt our sense of community here. I feel relief at actually being me again. I have gained a broadened perspective of my own choices and personal accountability – and learned to be more realistic in my expectations of others and my own commitments. I can now let go and risk a lot more. You (the facilitators) have great courage and caring for the real selves we weren’t seeing too clearly.’ – Simon Bailey, Director.
‘I experienced release. Renewal. Insight. Closeness and connection with my friends and colleagues. Compassion. Less judging, and lots, lots more. I’ve learned ‘I can and I will’.
It was a powerful experience that has released new possibilities for the team. An di had a magical conversation with my daughter, Rachel, assisted, I’m sure, by my heightened sense of awareness. Thank you Paul and your team for truly serving us and showing great strength and wholeness.’ – Val Bardsley, Director, Management Skills Division.
‘I saw the way to finding my true self. You were great.’ – Nick Anderson, Open Markets Mgr.