The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Baggage Handler

There are two short quotes from song lyrics that often stick in my head. The Eagles' Hotel California one is the first and the other is from Harry Chapin’s W.O.L.D.
“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”  ~ Hotel California, The Eagles

“Sometimes I get this crazy dream that I just take off in my car. But you can travel on ten thousand miles and still stay where you are.”   ~ W.O.L.D, Harry Chapin

They seem to resonate more than just a little bit in terms of the life and times of a Baggage Handler.

So, am I really talking about airport staff here, or is it all metaphor once again?


We are all carrying metaphorical Baggage through our lives. We start carrying it sometimes before we even go to school, whilst for some it’s there in our knapsacks by the age of seven. Then we keep adding to it over the years, and it gets heavier, and we get familiar with it by degrees. 

And, of course, it is the familiarity of it all that helps to keep it there – like old frozen food stuck at the bottom of our chest freezers. Out of date – unpalatable, tasteless and un-eatable – out of sight, out of mind.
Yet still we consume electricity in keeping it stored and frozen – in there, like that.
In the greater scheme of personal metaphors, needless to say, that’s the kind of electricity we could put to a much better use in other parts of our lives, isn’t it? 

Yet we don’t –
  • We harbour the idea that our Baggage is important to us.
  • It is familiar, and we like to surround ourselves with familiar things.
  • We couldn’t possibly abandon Baggage because we might find it useful for us sometime in the future – so we keep it for a “rainy day.”
  • “It is part of the ME that I know and recognise as MYSELF, YOU know. Why would I abandon part of my IDENTITY?”

Checking Out

So, when we set out with NEW resolve, perhaps to change some part of our lives that we aren’t particularly happy with, we know there’s going to be some NEW ground broken – we’re going to BECOME a different VERSION of Ourselves.
It’s a logical thing that we understand and accept …

Until the moment that we discover that RESOLUTIONS and the RESOLVE, the Courage to carry them through, is well outside of our COMFORT ZONE!
So, when it comes to our Checking Out - “pre-flight” if you like – we’ve got to decide what to do with the Baggage. Because this particular Check Out desk IS DEFINITELY NOT a Baggage Check-In desk!
As the words in Hotel California remind us about the chilling Outside-In nature of Reality – we can check out any time we like; but we can never leave!


If we want to stay in the familiarity of the Comfort Zone that is The Outside-In nature of Reality – then we can NEVER LEAVE.
So, unless we go All-Out when we choose to Check Out, we’re in here for LIFE.
We’re a Baggage Handler, stuck in this Reality for the duration. And on our Job Description, as baggage handlers, are the following things we’ve signed up to …
  • Happiness is CONDITIONAL – we’ll be happy WHEN we’ve got the right (Car, Job, Partner, House, Amount of money in the Bank, and so on.)
  • Our persona is important to us and we MUST stand up for our Selves and take things PERSONALLY – when we feel under attack from others, or circumstances.
  • We NEED to feel In Control – so we can DIRECT our lives from the console of our Command Centre. Losers are not in control of their lives, and it is important to us that we keep a firm grip on this White Knuckle ride called Life.
  • In order to succeed I need to work hard, try hard, keep trying and striving. We can never get anything worthwhile in life without putting in EFFORT. I need to show the World that I am worthy of Success or the World won’t reward me.
  • I need to constantly monitor and judge both myself and others in terms of Perfections. The World won’t accept imperfections – this I know to be true.

There are some other Agreements we’ve personally signed up to – or have been signed up to BY PROXY when we were growing up. And these Agreements, along with our status as Baggage Handlers, keep us firmly rooted in the Life More Ordinary that society has fashioned for us.

The Crazy Dreams

Yet – what of the Crazy Dreams? These are the notions that there is out there, beyond the restricting walls and the glass ceilings, another life. A life that we sometimes see others living, with Eyes Wide Open that look like our eyes USED TO LOOK somehow, before we began gathering Baggage.

These are the Crazy Dreams that hit us in moments of Clarity and Wonder – and yet, as Harry Chapin said, when we decide to JUST TAKE OFF in our cars we still need to be TRAVELLING LIGHT.
  • We really don’t need the old clothes from the musty wardrobes.
  • We really don’t need the bonds and ties that are holding us back.
  • We really don’t need Control, like that, to have an amazing life – because relaxing our Knuckles on the ride really does put the life blood back into our hands, and steering becomes a lot easier when our knuckles aren’t hanging on tight.

Giving Ourselves Permission

We need to start giving ourselves permissions to replace some of those agreements we’d signed, especially the ones when we didn’t know any better!
  • Permission 1 – Be Happy! Happiness is INNATE – it is in our nature. We are not required to jump through unpleasant hoops of fire to satisfy a god, a judge, or others.
  • Permission 2 – Be Kind, especially to ourselves. This involves not beating ourselves up over things. We ARE ONLY HUMAN, after all – and none of us are PERFECT. Just look at nature – it isn’t perfect either … it JUST IS! Yet, strangely, when nature goes wrong it is always at the interference of controlling and perfectionist humans.
  • Permission 3 – Notice our Wisdom! The quickest way to noticing our wisdom is to lay Judgement aside. Being judgemental is a toxic addiction – which was revealed to me a very long time ago. When we point our finger in judgement at someone, or something, then we would do well to notice that we have three other fingers pointing back at us. It is a simple reminder!
  • Permission 4 – Have Belief in our own Courage! We are very good at dumbing down our abilities, our capabilities, our strengths and our fortitude. We really are capable of far more than might ever allow ourselves. I see this in my sports coaching on an almost daily basis. “I can’t do this – I’m no good – No-one wants me – And I really couldn’t do THAT!” Plus, we then go and follow up these damning statements by watering down our commitment and our resolve – thus guaranteeing our failure, so we can then say, “SEE – I told you so!” We are very good at proving ourselves RIGHT instead of proving others WRONG! Remember - Actually giving ourselves Permissions is a real act of courage.
  • Permission 5 – Giving ourselves Permission to LIVE OUR OWN LIVES. This is the greatest and most forgotten Permission.

And this final Permission is the one that will give us the freedom to live our Dreams, just take off in our cars, and quit being a Baggage Handler.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Walking for Health, Walking for Change

“Walking is Man’s best medicine” ~ Hippocrates

Amidst the hurly-burly of life, we can often become detached – whether from our inner selves, from a clear perspective, or from our sense of wellbeing. In these times we can feel overwhelmed by circumstances or our environment, and what we need is to slow down our thinking, bring more clear light into our lives, get out of our heads and back in touch with nature in a complete change of surroundings.

“You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going - because you might not get there!” ~ Yogi Berra

Since I started walking seriously, in the autumn of 2016, I’ve fashioned some considerable changes in my life. These have been both at the physical as well as the mental level. But there has to be a Plan, a purposeful process to the journey. And it starts with the signpost or, as Yogi Berra puts it, have some idea of where to go and what you want to achieve.

 The Physical

Through regular walking I brought my understanding of those pillars of physical wellbeing, fitness and conditioning, to life. Normally this would be a pathway of understanding for the athletes I coach, but this time it was for Yours Truly.
Over that first autumn in 2016 the first gain was that I lost weight – and it was weight I had been trying to lose for a long time yet to no avail. The irony was that the weight loss just happened for me in an effortless, no-trying kind of way.

It was my wish, as I celebrated #Milestone70 last autumn, that I could reach the weight I was at the age of 20 - 10.5 stone. As 2018 unfolded I noticed movement in that direction. Then the moment came, earlier this year, when I reached 10.5 stone – whereupon I went out, celebrated with a slap-up meal and at once put a few pounds back on! I got it down again, I’m pleased to say, and have kept it “sensible” since then.

The second gain was my fitness, and conditioning. The fitness to walk and climb the distances and heights, and the conditioning to maintain the consistency and not break down. I learnt a lot from my climbing the two Yorkshire peaks Pen y Ghent in October 2017 and Ingleborough in September 2018. On each occasion I found myself in The Zone whilst tackling the climbs, and these two achievements have continued to sustain me through tough walks ever since. I am now fitter and in better “nick” than 5 years ago, and definitely 10 years ago.

The Mental

Having alluded to The Zone I now find myself able to move more comfortably into that state of effortless action described in Taoism as Wu Wei.
In terms of any action – athletic or otherwise – there is always this idea in Western culture that we should try, try hard, try harder. If there’s an essential outcome in mind, then SHOULD quickly evolves into MUST. We must try as hard as we can, or else the consequences will be … ?
Wu Wei espouses taking action from a perspective at the other end of the scale to this.
The other thing I often notice about the effortless action of performing in The Zone is that well known quote from Bruce Lee – “Be like water, my friend.”

There’s an effortlessness about water in that it goes as it is, where it is. It is both hard and soft, spectacular and serene, benign and fierce, still and rushing; it shapes the land and our perspectives. When we follow the pathway of “being like water” then we are more aligned with the cosmos. The universe facilitates our actions in an almost magical way – we, like water, are not trying.

Trying puts us in a physical and mental state of tension rather than ease. And part of trying is our ego’s way of proving to our Self and Others that this matters, that we care of its importance, and that in the event of failure we have a ready-made excuse for that failure. “We did our best.”
On the other hand, when the action comes from a perspective of being effortless, we find our body and mind working much more In-Sync, and things seem to go much smoother. It’s as if the plug in our “Bath of Thoughts” has been pulled at the same time as the taps have been turned off.

Understanding of the varying states of our Mental Focus also sustains me through both the regular and the challenging walks. When conditioned with Open Focus as a default state of mind, this enables us, on walks, to take control of our Attention which is enhanced by the whole idea of “Communion with Nature.” This is a communion that is a working model of alignment with WHAT IS.

While out walking in nature, and encountering some stunning backdrops, like me many people have experienced amazing shifts in perspectives, and for some these can be life-changing. As our minds settle down, insights and wisdom emerge from being hidden in the midst of all that noisy foreground of clamour, baggage and clutter. This sets the stage for us to get clear on those answers to important questions, problems and issues in our lives that have eluded us – in the daily pressure-cooker of our “real” world. And these answers, insights and moments of wisdom, all seem to arise effortlessly as if from Out Of The Blue.

Mind and Body are one system

Mind and Body are one system, and when they are working In Sync we are in a state of effortless wellbeing. When either part of that unified system is suffering ill health then we fall out of alignment with ourselves. Yet physical ill health and mental ill health are not mutually exclusive. Each one brings some action to bear upon the other; our neuro-physiological resource centres make adjustments to facilitate the unified system getting through the circumstances as best as possible. Sometimes, this brings about – for us – some symptoms that may alarm or concern!

After a punishing weekend of sporting action earlier this year in the summer heat wave, my body shut me down at the end of the following Monday. I was forced to move slowly, gingerly, sparingly – so I would not expend more energy than it was capable of delivering. By the Friday of that week I began to be able to climb up and down stairs more normally – so you can see how depleted my brain considered my physical resources to be. This began to have a significance upon my mental resilience – an area upon which I had and have a huge reliance.
Whilst my body recovered reasonably quickly, my mental health took a hit I hadn’t anticipated. Recovery from the mental health dip took well over ten weeks!

We may have experienced for ourselves, or know of others, who have psychosomatic symptoms of pain or discomfort, even though there is nothing physically wrong. This is where our mental wellbeing comes under threat from a lack of resources especially at those times when we pay more attention to the personal contents of our thinking.

We will have had experience of, and know of others who also experience, the emotional content of our memories of physical pain. The emotional content is a flag on the experience that we file away as a marker. “I don’t like going to the dentist,” is a comment built from memory, and the memory is built from what ACTUALLY happened + the emotion we added in.
I have worked with enough people on their emotional memory markers, to know that these play into BOTH their minds and their bodies. I’ve also enabled them to lose their access to these markers, so that the behavioural triggers they used to fire as a response no longer occur.

When I developed the idea of MIND RELAX sessions, I very soon reached the conclusion that in terms of the Mind-Body link, when one is functioning less well, why can I not use one to help the other? So that the Physical can help the Mental, and vice versa.
That was when I realised that Walking for Health is right up there with Walking for Change.

Merging my Passions – Old and New

Walking has become a new passion for me – and joins my other passions for coaching, for music, for sport, for performance. It started out as a desire, to get out and just do it and see if I liked it. When I put some action, some purpose into that desire, I realised that I was “catching the bug.” Once it became easier to say yes rather than no, I got the sense that I was spending a lot of time doing it, and a lot of time planning it as well. That’s how it grew into a passion.

Psychologist, Angela Lee Duckworth contends this, in terms of the contest between finding or developing our Passions - “Passions tend to be developed. It’s not just about being intense about what you’re doing but waking up week after week, month after month, year after year, wanting to think about the same thing.” It’s something fulfilling and enjoyable, but it’s not that easy; Duckworth calls it “hard fun.”

The next phase was to merge my passions for walking and coaching, to take my “office” out into those amazing places, and thus I developed the WALKING & COACHING programme now outlined on my website – here -

If you are interested in joining with me on one of these journeys, setting up a healthy and purposeful dialogue for change with nature and with yourself, then get in touch and we can set the ball rolling.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Same Sea - Different Colour

On my early morning walk today I noticed the sea looking quite grey and then, as I rounded a small headland, I noticed a distinct line – going away from me out to the horizon – where on one side the sea was coloured grey, and on the other side it was blue.

Of course, this is related to the reflection back of the sky above and as I looked up I noticed the clear line of differentiation depicted by the clouds. They were more tightly packed together on one side and well-spaced apart on the other.

Natural phenomena are all around and noticed by us on a regular basis – provided we are noticing! There’s the bright sunlight, and a line of shadow from any structure such as a building, trees, or even the land – as in this photo where the line of shadow is cast by the hill behind as it rises to almost 1,000ft.


And, as always with my trains of thought, I considered how our perspectives of life on a day-to-day, even a moment-to-moment basis are often played out on an Outside-In basis.
Of course, they play out on this basis for as long as we are taking the perspective of the world as it is happening TO US. Our perspectives are very much framed by our Relationship with our Thinking, or – to put it another way – how we are harnessing the Power of Thought for our own purposes.

And thus it is with the sea that I saw this morning.
On the one hand – grey, forbidding, with a sense of foreboding, colder, more steely, the whites of the wave tops in a whiter shade of pale, the waves with more menace, more threatening …
On the other hand – blue, rich and vibrant, more inviting, warmer, the wave tops glistening with a sense of freshness, the waves themselves seeming more benign yet equally magnificent …

There was such a stark contrast, created from the sky above, that – as in life – it was hard to realise that the state of the sea, the waves, everything, was exactly the same on either side of that line in the water.

The Power of Thought (the sea) moves energy (the waves) past the lens of our perceptions. What we interpret through that lens personalises our thoughts. In terms of what I saw coloured up, courtesy of the sea reflecting the sky above it (the lens), any of my inner, personal thoughts would have been subject to those same filters, the same lens.

Provided, in-the-moment, I was of a frame of mind that was noticing and interpreting from an Outside-In (personal) perspective, I would expose my self to believing the illusion filtered through that lens. My “virtual reality goggles” would serve up for me a very real illusion of how things are. And I’d feel and act according to that … ONLY for as long as I allowed.

And when I’m deep in that frame of mind, everything gets reversed. And here’s the thing - the deeper we go, the faster the vortex, the spiral, seems to be. Until, with something approaching the state of mind we label as depression, we reach a point of no resilience where we have -

SAME COLOUR – However different the SEA.

The Light in our lives

When I talk of the light in our lives I can actually be referring (in metaphor) to brightness, reflective quality, clearness, illumination and so on – as well as a lightness in weight. Take phrases like light-hearted, heavy-hearted; the lightness that comes with less baggage, the heavy burdensome millstones that drag us down; a dense fog, a crystal clear day; temperature – warmth, cold, brighter, darker; all things filtered by our thinking (including our memories) processes, things that shape and colour our countenance, and how we are showing up in the world.

With the Inside-Out nature of reality, we are much more aligned with the default settings we had when we were born – when the complicated nature of the world we have been thrust into has not yet been revealed to us. Yet, have you noticed that Nature is not complicated – it just IS.

There is a scheme to things that our blessed human minds pay no heed to at our peril. The burning desire to bring all of THAT under our CONTROL, so we can harness it for our own ends, is what we all are led to believe is the Meaning of Life. THAT’S what it is all about, we are told. And we sign up – in varying degrees.

Yet when we do pay heed to the scheme of things, and apply the scheme to the filters, the lens, of our perceptions from moment to moment, then THERE rises our sense of being at one with the scheme of things.

Rather like I whispered under my breath this morning -
The SEA is just the same SEA whether it is on the grey side of that (light-created) line or on the blue side. The WAVES are breaking on the rocks with the same level of impact, regardless. The spray thrown up from that impact is still carried on the wind – and if I were to sit on the rocks on either the grey side or the blue side of that line, I would get equally splashed and wet.

We have no control over any of this, other than our filtering, our lens, our virtual reality goggles.

And when we do THAT, life becomes a lot more kind, a lot less menacing, a lot more negotiable, a lot less frustrating.

It may just be our Choice, and yet it is just a Thought also.

Sunday, October 7, 2018


Narrow Focus and our metaphorical Footwear

Now, don’t get me wrong -
Narrow Focus IS a very useful perspective for doing certain tasks in life, work, play and performance. The trouble arises for us when we feel compelled to use Narrow Focus as a perspective for ALL things.

It’s like when we have just one pair of shoes and make them DO for all day and every day. We KNOW this doesn’t work, yet we’ll make excuses and put up with the inappropriate times.
We despair when our shoes wear thin or go out of shape; when they fail to support our feet properly; when they let in water; when they stick their tongues out at us!
We also find that we need to replace them very regularly because we use them ALL the time – and yet, even if we had two pairs of the same shoes, they would actually last more than twice as long.

Living with just one pair of shoes – physically and metaphorically – is a very false economy!

Default is was all our own

The same goes for when we ignore the DEFAULT setting of our mental Attentive Focus, which is Open Focus.

We are born with that “factory” default setting and in our early years of growing up we build our perspective of the world around us through that same default setting. We learn well, we learn fast, we assimilate vast amounts of NEW everything on a daily basis. We are extraordinary learning machines! 
Until we reach that tipping point – the moment of IS/WAS!

At some time, usually between the ages of 4-7, we become hugely pressured to comply with the requirements of the society we are growing up in. These requirements start to make increasingly high demands upon how we manage our Attention – and we seem to lose touch with the DEFAULT setting of our Attentive Focus and get drawn into the vagaries of excessive functioning in a Narrow Focus.

Now, the various types or settings of our mental Attentive Focus are rather akin to having a reasonable variety of shoes in our locker. As Les Fehmi describes in his book “The Open Focus Brain”, there are four types of focus – narrow, objective, diffuse and immersed – each with a variety of associated characteristics.

Imagine in metaphor then, if you will, the type of shoes appropriate for Narrow-Objective focus as compared to the type of shoes appropriate for Diffuse-Immersed focus. These items of footwear might be as far apart as slippers are to sturdy walking boots, or stiletto heels might be to wellingtons.

Yet our society, particularly in the Western Hemisphere, demands we conduct our lives in Narrow-Objective focus reminding us that this is the way it is; this is life, get used to it; it’s a struggle, it is harsh, it’s dog eat dog; you MUST get to the top or you’ll fail, you’ll BE a failure – and the only way you’ll get to the top is to constantly compete, try hard, then harder; trampling over people on the way is legit, it’s all fair in love and war; and so on ad infinitum.

With all of this relentless drive to justified BESTNESS, is the perspective that life is ONLY about the climactic moments; be noticed, make more noise, OWN the moment, BE the alpha. And this relentless drive only has one Sat-Nav … Narrow-Objective.
Oh yes – and it is mighty compelling! Yet there’s just one drawback, one problem.
We weren’t born with Narrow-Objective. Nor were our start-out-right shoes built for that either. They were designed to allow our feet to grow in a well-balanced way, so that they could carry us well through life – not leave us limping and hobbling by the time we become adults.

Erlkings and Lurkings

So, it is down to our guardians, our Mums and Dads, to enable us with a range of appropriate footwear – both physical and metaphorical – so we can make our way forward to adulthood with strong, sturdy feet. Feet that will keep us balanced on the journey, feet that will support us in the storms, or on the glassy and icy surfaces, feet that can run and play as well as help us escape the jaws of the Erlkings. *
(* The Erlking is a supernatural being, or demon, in folklore.)  

Now our Mums and Dads are also having to look after their own appropriate footwear, plus - they are also subjected to Erlkings of their own. Of course WE (as young children) don’t know this at the get go. We aren’t aware that our Mums and Dads, by virtue of their OWN Attention Management, may sometimes make demands upon us at home and within the family environment, over and above what we might objectively consider to be our learning about our place within the life of the family unit. Witness this cautionary tale …

Recently, I was walking behind a family of four that included 2 children below the age of 5, and they were in my town on a seaside holiday. Dad was carrying the youngest on his shoulders, whilst Mum was pushing the empty pushchair with one hand and holding her little girl’s hand with the other. A typical leisure scene and, at the seaside, a joyous time for all, you might think.

Yet all I could hear was the mother shouting fiercely at her eldest,
“YOU are ruining my holiday. Yes, you are! You are ruining MY holiday!”

It was painfully obvious that here was some inappropriate footwear being worn by the mother, whose state of Focus was decidedly Narrow! Clearly, the desired benefit of the holiday to restore her default status of an Open Focus was unlikely to take hold, let alone accrue! I looked closer … and did I not see, lurking on her shoulder, the eager and slavering jaws of her Erlking?

Sadly, that Mum, with a tone of cruelty borne of frustration, eventually threatened to cancel her little girl’s Birthday with a vehemence and tone that even I (very familiar with an out-dated and old-school toughness) winced at.

Of course, you might say, these are everyday frustrations on the unwinding road of almost every adult that has accepted the mantle of parenthood – so what’s the BIG deal?

We drive ourselves to run all the elements and tasks in our lives with a Narrow Focus, because life is very demanding of our attention. We are constantly being pulled this way and that – and we have a label for all this pulling and how it makes us feel.
And with sore feet from poor, ill-fitting, and worn-out mental footwear, a daily round of Narrow Focus and no resilience to break free from the stress of it all, we might easily end up finding ourselves bellowing at our pre-school children when they don’t instantly conform to OUR demands … yet are they really OUR demands?

In whose name is that Mum really threatening her little girl.


The shoes we are wearing are the springboard to our being successful or otherwise in dealing with every Erlking we’ve ever created that might by lurking on our own journey through life.
Young children ARE resilient – because of their default Open Focus setting they bounce back.
Yet, the more … the more. This we know. Through OUR actions we can erode that resilient springback to default.

It would be nice to think that that little girl will get her Birthday celebrations. It would be nice to think that her Mum has since relented, perhaps amidst tears, and got to receive some of the benefits that every holiday should afford to one’s resilience.

It would be nice to think that LOVE conquers all.