The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Minimize to Tray


Every time I fire up my laptop it goes through a sequential series of actions, a boot-up routine. Eventually the operating system is invoked, the screen comes to life, and I get invited to put in my password. After that there comes the automatic loading of some set programs, applications, of primary action.
I guess this happens for us all – right across the board, wherever we are. In fact, in some people’s perceptions, this could be the daily boot-up routine for us, ourselves – the “Human Computer”, if you like.

And, rather like with our computers, not every boot sequence runs smoothly. Something has got in there and made things run much slower, or we notice certain things we might describe as glitches. And for our laptops’ Human counterparts, these might be last night’s food or drink intake, a virus that has got in under the radar and attacked our immune system, the symptoms of a periodic illness that has flared up once more, a disturbed night of sleep for particular reasons either physical or mental…
And, I say this with a degree of tongue in cheek of course, all of this is long before we might notice what the weather outside is doing!

Well, now I’ve set the scene for you, I’ll return to my own laptop’s auto-load programs. 

For me, there is one that stops all action until I deal with it – Amazon Music. The screen just comes up saying “Act Now – or Freeze.” Well, no it doesn’t actually say that since it’s not yet been imbued with Alexa-like powers! But I am required to take some action – so I click the “X” in the top right-hand corner which then leads to a further “take action” request – which brings me to the creative kernel of this observation. I can do one of two things: I can either EXIT completely, or I can …


Now, for me with music, I would never EXIT completely. Music is a key component of my life – I hear it all the time, it is in my head; I see it all the time, in the world around me; I feel it all the time, in the resonances of the world and myself. Yes, I’m a bit weird, like that!
So, no, yes – it is an integral part of me, and of ME!
And so, on my laptop’s awakening, I always MINIMIZE TO TRAY.


Now, one of the things that tends to happen in our lives – it certainly happens to me – is that once MUSIC has been minimized to tray, or in other words set aside for however long the moment might be, then it is no longer active – on screen.

Even for me, given all that I’ve said about MUSIC being everywhere in my life and an integral part of the me that I am, there are times when I get side-tracked. Quite literally, at these times, the tracks in the play-list of my life do NOT contain any MUSIC. I am out of touch with that integral part of me.

I’ve got SO much going on in the foreground of my life – on the SCREEN, if you like – that the soundtrack, that’s been minimized to tray, is not in evidence. I’m dealing with on-screen stuff so much that I can’t hear that the MUSIC is not there. It’s missing.

Until, that is, the very moment that I do notice it’s missing.

OMG! Where’s the music gone to?

Well, deep down we know, I know it is – actually - always there, a bit like the sun on a bad weather day that’s there above the clouds.
And in that moment the OMG hits home, I intuitively know that I need to pause, take a deeper breath, and allow my metaphorical cursor finger to GO TO TRAY, in order to click on “music”.


One of the most seductive things about the lives we lead is the SCREEN. We are told, very early in our lives, that we must attend to the screen and what’s going on there – and of course, in the metaphor of the Screen, that is how we get to live our lives “In the Now”.
However the screen is a very demanding place and what happens when we load and run LOTS of programs – and flip all of those things from foreground to background on a regular basis? We forget about the things we have MINIMIZED TO TRAY.

We’ve crammed so much into our screen activity, that we’ve lost touch with the some of the key things that are important to us, perhaps those things integral to, nay even part of, our identity.
Once we understand that the stuff going on on-screen is, essentially, Outside of us – then we intuitively know how to handle the OMG moments.
Until that understanding arrives, we’ll perhaps get an inkling that we aren’t what’s going on on-screen. Yet these occasional and insightful moments will flash in and out, on and off, like shafts of sunlight through the breaks in those clouds on the bad weather days.

Those inklings were certainly KEY for me. They got me started on sorting out the things that I’d been wanting to change for years, yet didn’t have an idea how or where to start. You could say I got lucky.
I got curious – I got back to what we all are in the first years of our lives. CURIOUS about anything and everything around us. 
What’s that? How does this work? Where does that go? How do I …? And so on. Eventually I encountered the Inside-Out nature of reality – the perspective I was born with and then lost touch with.


Pursue curiosity and you will place yourself on a pathway to becoming properly self-satisfied. Self-satisfied has nothing to do with SMUGNESS or being the great I AM.

When a baby moves from crawling to taking those first steps you know there’s a HUGE amount of self-satisfaction there on the inside, for baby. They’ve broken free into being now EVEN MORE capable of discovering more about this world they are part of. Their curiosity is being fired up now with every step they take.
Baby has not yet encountered the emotion and behaviour of SELF CENTRED AGGRANDISEMENT, of SMUG. Baby has merely satisfied a curiosity.

And on the metaphorical laptop for Baby, the Screen IS also the TRAY. Amongst everything baby does there is nothing that is minimized to tray. That comes later!

So, get curious enough to take a good long look at the TRAY of YOUR life. Notice what is there, notice what you regularly put there, and whether you lose touch with those things when the TRAY is unnoticeable in the hurly-burly of your daily lives as you attend to endless on-screen stuff?

Take care with what you Minimize to Tray. I’ve known a lot of people who actually, though unwittingly, have minimized their lives to Tray in order to deal with all that “really important” stuff that is on-screen. I used to be one of those people – and at the time I thought I knew myself. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Today’s Topic

Imagine that you are in the audience and I am giving a talk … and on the whiteboard or flip chart behind me you see the word “REVISION.”
Probably, like me, you are immediately transported back to a pre-exam scenario. Mutually, our minds will cloud our present moments - here at my talk - with snatches of individual memory around the topic of “REVISION.” The memories may be good, neutral or less than comfortable – depending upon our personal perceptions of Exam preparation. It is a road of experience we will have all travelled at some point.

Levers of Language

I have a more than fanciful awareness of the hypnotic domain – it is part of my being and my understanding of the nature of our human awareness; and it is also part of my professional approach to working with clients. Here too, I have an experiential understanding of how language (both verbal and non-verbal) is woven through all that occurs within the hypnotic domain.

Now, one of the linguistic levers that exists within this universal vehicle of conveying meaning, lies in framing; of “setting the scene.” I used one right at the start of the article by saying, “Imagine that you are in the audience … “, for instance.
I used another one by introducing the word “REVISION” into our proceedings, for “REVISION” – like that – is an evocative word. Our brains’ “Black Box Voice Recorders” will have picked up this internal dialogue in micro-time:

“Oh look – REVISION. I know that label. I have experience around that. It is flagged by my use of emotion at the time of experience, so I can recognise it with ease for future reference. That once future point has now arrived, and I can remember not just the experience (for knowing) but also the emotion (for feeling) all about REVISION. I’ll bring them both to my conscious awareness. Then, I’ll get to feel again how I used to feel back then.”   

I used the lever of getting you to remember a whole raft of things … and your predictable mind-body link did the rest.


Part of the emotive nature of that word, of course, is linked to HOW we revised, WHY we revised, WHAT we revised, WHEN we revised, perhaps WHERE we revised, and (after the event) WAS it worth it, did it WORK for us, did it give us WHAT we wanted?

Of course, HOW we revise bears a very close relationship with HOW we learn. And we all LEARN in quite different ways. So, if our teachers tell the entire class that there is only ONE optimal way to REVISE – AND that this is IT - then I’d venture to suggest that their persuasive suggestions are way off the mark; along with the “factory-method” style assumption about there being only ever one way of learning.

“Here is some knowledge I am imparting and which you should be learning.”
I am like a dog with a bone regarding ways that we learn, and I make no apologies for that. I have coached enough children over the years to know that my being inflexible in the way I am imparting the knowledge, will only work for a small percentage.

Anyway, to get back to the language side of REVISION – the primary meaning conveyed by this label, this word, is there in plain sight.
If we are a Visual Learner, then our revision should literally be that … Re-Vision, or Vision-again. If we are an Auditory Learner, then we’ll be more in tune with revising from books, for the spoken word is going to work best for us. Kinaesthetic Learners are more in touch with subjects in the practical sense, so their best revision should involve a lot less via sight and sound, and be a lot more hands-on.
Now all of this is not woo-woo or rocket science. Especially when (and if) our Revision is meant to be a Re-visiting of what we have learned. After all, we are going to be examined on what we have learned – NOT on what we HAVEN’T learned – aren’t we?
Please remember - we will never learn anything when Revising. We may gain some further understanding and insight of that that we DO know, but in terms of something new – there is NO learning; only Conditioning.

Revising Our Thinking

There are, however, a number of other meanings within the domain of vision, revision, and revising – like that! There are Visionaries and ReVisionaries, Visionists and Revisionists. Revising can be examination and correction, proving and proofing a draft document, and so on.
Revising and its derivatives have now moved away from revisiting things we have already learned, into a domain of correction, change and re-assessment.
If our thinking about something is not entirely correct, or is not working very well for us, then we need to revise our thinking about it.

In visual terms, we might say we’re looking at it with different eyes and it will seem clearer; in an auditory sense we are hearing it from a whole new perspective which resonates with us a lot more; in a kinaesthetic sense we’ll feel more comfortable about it, more at ease, it will work much more smoothly.

If ever we needed proof that our non-verbal sensual language, and the ways we can express that language in a verbal way, is inextricably linked to our thinking – then here IS that proof.

Changing our Mind – is merely another way of describing what is going on when we Revise our Thinking. And we would do well to remember, also, that the only person who can change our mind – like that – is Ourselves.
In Outside-In terms, I may think that YOU have changed my mind, revised my thinking for me – YET I am the only person who can change MY mind. You have pointed me in another direction, you have facilitated my having a change of perspective, BUT only I can change my mind.

There was half a dozen of us sat around the dinner table a few days ago, and someone pointed out to one of the others that I was a hypnotist. “So, who do you hypnotise?” came the next question, which was a slight variance on the usual casual questions in conversations not involving hypnotists. You can imagine a rocket scientist in a similar social gathering: “So, tell me about your rockets?”
And yet also that slight variance, in and of itself, gives clues as to the personalities at the social gathering as well as the language of the questioner – which, again, is fascinating.
“Anyone who buys into the process,” I replied with rather vague intent – which one particular friend would describe as my being ‘woolly.’ Well, woolly or not, the conversational lever prompted my being invited to elaborate on my comment.

When I was first trained in hypnotherapy and the nature of hypnosis I would have never given such an answer. I had a set of thoughts and ideas around the process and the entire domain – and THAT set of thoughts, ideas, beliefs (almost) framed everything for me and my approach. Then I met certain people, began to move in certain circles, listened to and watched other hypnotists – and I became aware that my set of thoughts, ideas and beliefs (almost) were of such a narrow bandwidth as to severely restrict my understanding. My next step was simple …
I revised my thinking – I changed my mind.
I re-visioned my entire view of how the hypnotic domain sits within our Being.
I had many insights and light-bulb moments, which were both exciting and breath-taking in turn.


I believe that curiosity is a freedom granted to us before birth. It is the driver for ALL of our early learning. AND – if we were to allow it – can be the driver for our Learning for the rest of our lives. Yet most of us are told to hide our curiosity away – especially when it comes to educating ourselves – or have our educating done by others that sit in judgement.

“Our brain capacity peaks at 25 … “
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks … “
“I couldn’t learn to do that – I was no good at it at school … “
“My teacher says I shouldn’t take this subject at GCSE because … “

Don’t these, and other well-worn phrases, look just like a set of thoughts, ideas and beliefs (almost)? How narrow is the bandwidth of the minds behind them – believing them to be the one, true and only way?

Curiosity – at ANY age – is the driver for ALL learning. Curiosity says, “I want to know this, I want to know all about it, I want to know more about it, I want to experiment with it, I want to see how far it can be taken.” Curiosity always keeps an Open Mind – nothing is set in stone, everything is questioned. Nothing in the World has ever been advanced by the Narrow-Minded and those beset with self-imposed boundaries.


So, I invite you to take a new perspective on REVISION. Revise your thinking about it. 

I used to believe that 2+2=4 until I had it proved otherwise. The World was once believed to be flat – and indeed anyone questioning the views of the Church around that particular nature of the World was considered to be heretical, and was punished accordingly.

I invite you to learn about HOW you learn AT YOUR BEST.
I invite you to LEARN with Revision-in-Mind. By this, I mean be questioning from a perspective of Curiosity, so you can – at any time – revise what you have learned.

Take the book, the idea, the thought, in your right hand and recite these words of caution:

“You do not have to know something fully but it may harm your security if you do not understand when questioned something you rely on as truth. Anything you think you know may be given as evidence."

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Circle of Humanity

Calling them out

We live in times where people are now being called out for their disrespectful words and actions, on a daily basis. Bravo to those callers is all I can say, over and over again. 

Having respect for anyone is part of the gift of humanity - so when you show no respect or lack respect then you are stepping into an inhuman place. It is the true meaning of "Whatever is hurtful to you, do not do to any other."
Mindless, low grade, casual or evilly intended - it is all disrespect. Bullying, harassment sexual or otherwise, racism, intolerance of any kind again is about lacking respect for humanity. There are no graded categories of disrespect on a scale of mild to despicable. Every time it is done it brings our race into disrepute. You step out of the CIRCLE and should expect to be called out by those inside, and not be surprised when you are.

Which leads me to what someone described to me as being the hardest question about compassion. 
"Are we, as humans, meant to feel compassion towards not just the victims - but also the perpetrators, the abusers and the disrespectful - regardless of the grade of their disrespect?"

Here is a dictionary definition of compassion:
"Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others." 

Well, call me old fashioned ... AND while I may feel sorry for their ignorance, but I cannot extend it to sympathetic pity and concern since they have not suffered, nor has any misfortune accrued to them as a result of their inhumanity.
My feeling COMPASSION (another gift of humanity, incidentally) towards them will commence when they chose to step back into the Circle of Humanity. When they acknowledge they have stepped out of that CIRCLE, they can then chose to step back in.

We are all born with the Gifts of Humanity, and are corrupted into beliefs, and behaviours that go against the Circle of Humanity. We have all stepped out of the Circle at some time. Some people never step back in; for some it may take ages, perhaps a lifetime; and for most of us - we hear the call, hang our heads a bit, apologise and return to the fold, contrite.

Oddly enough, I never felt any animosity towards my childhood abusers. 
However - to the drivers who cut me up on roundabouts ... 😉 

Saturday, November 4, 2017


My good friend Brian Groves published a short article entitled “Was yesterday really better than today?” And this got me thinking, and musing, and evaluating. I went searching for answers – and came up with the following:-


  •         There's the outside stuff, the Extrinsic answers - the world out there, including ours, the environment, the weather, other people etc
  •         and there's the Inside stuff, the Intrinsic answers - our relationship with our thinking, how we are harnessing the power of thought; our feelings and our emotions, beliefs etc

And here is where we bump into the conclusion, “There are more questions coming out of these answers than we ever considered when we set out to answer the original question.”

Of course, the bullet-point nature of the answers is that they are mutually exclusive.
For, the interesting thing about all the Outside stuff, is that it doesn't really relate to any of the Inside stuff, unless we believe and think and feel that it does.
All of which arguments, roll along, and come to rest at the door of what is REALITY – and the perspectives of Outside-In and Inside-Out.


When we are living from the Outside-In perspective then we believe that much of all, sometimes approaching near 100%, of our experience of the world – how it is being, what it is throwing at us – is REAL, and that we are regularly experiencing, enjoying and/or suffering the effects of that seemingly uncontrolled reality. As humans we would all like to have a controlling handle on our lives – to feel that we are, to some extent, directing our destiny.
We have been led to BELIEVE that this is the best, and most predictably reliable way that we can perpetuate our sense of security, comfort and wellbeing.
“The more control I feel I have, the safer and more secure my life will be.”


The Inside-Out nature of reality, on the other hand, grasps that “nettle” of experience and asks, “Where does our Experience actually come from?”

How our brain primarily handles the vast stream of sensual data that bombards us in every moment, is by prediction and recognition. It is as if there is a set of questions that ask,
“What is this exactly? What is it most like? Have I ever encountered this before?”
OR in terms of something affecting us …
“What WILL happen NEXT? What is MOST likely to happen? Have I ever encountered this scenario before? And WHEN and IF I did, HOW did I think/behave before?”
And so on, and so forth.
Part of the effective reasoning behind the Four Cartesian Questions ** comes from our predictive brain and cognitive processes.

After the primary predictive and recognising process, comes the filtering process.
This is where we Delete, Distort and Generalize that data that we have predicted and recognized!
This enables us to discard the unnecessary, and the repetitive; enables us to describe something as being LIKE something else; enables us to categorize something under a much broader description.
These are all wonderful processes carried out at exceptional speed by our amazing brain – in a seemingly continual flow – and can be best described as Thought Processes.
They are processes that harness the Power of Thought.
If we did not harness that Power, then none of the above would happen. We would not see the warm smile, or hear the barbed arrows of insults and criticisms, or feel a lover’s caress.
And the clue to where our Experience really comes from, is in these processes. For these are Thought Processes – and our every Experience comes entirely from thought, from our Thought Processes.

** - The Four Cartesian Questions:
What WOULD happen if I did X
What WOULDN’T happen if I did X
What WOULD happen if I DIDN’T do X
What WOULDN’T happen if I DIDN’T do X


Once armed with the understanding that we, essentially, make up every nuance of our entire experience, it is a short step to seeing that what is REAL – to us, at any moment – is only a constructed conclusion of our own thinking.
Or to put it more simply, even crudely, “We Make It All Up!”

And it is in this given fact of where our Experience comes from, that we can see that WE also have the power to change our Experience.
Not change in the sense of say “Turning water into wine” or manifesting a shiny new Porsche on the driveway, or stepping off a cliff edge and not falling, of course.
No, I’m talking about change in how we perceive the Experience and how we respond. That is the REAL power and control that we can bring to our Experience.  

Shortcutting the Predictions

Now, in part of the functioning of our Predictive Process, we draw upon our Beliefs and Memories to help with the predictions. Here, we are applying some pre-determination upon our data gathering. 

For instance:
“I like Picasso's paintings; Prokofiev’s music is just an awful noise; I don’t like dogs; unshaven means unclean, unwashed; my religion = right, proper; poor = inferior; etc.”

Picture the scene – 

I’m in a lift and it stops at an intermediate floor and in steps an unshaven man, in shabby clothes, with a dog. My predictive brain presents into my conscious attention some evidence that is tagged with belief, grown and repeatedly proved from remembered experience – which was ALL based upon nothing but my own Thoughts in the first place.

If I am an Outside-In victim of my own thinking, then I’m already searching for and predicting MORE evidence to back up these beliefs. I’ll be physically recoiling in some way, shape or form – and I’ll be primed to smell for signs of unwashed-ness and poverty. His dog will detect my non-verbal recoil – because that’s what dogs do – and may well react. Which will make me further react! This is a bad scenario – I wish the lift would hurry up. Thinking, reacting, thinking, reacting …
I may well experience this again and again in lifts. I may well feel SO bad about this recurring that I develop a reticence to using lifts. The SPIRAL, ALL spirals, begin somewhere – and they all get a hold on us through seeing our Experience through an Outside-In perspective.

Freedom from Beliefs

Beliefs are just thoughts, repeatedly grown and proved, to a degree of unshakeable credibility. Layered up, over and over again, many times, until they become something reliable to us - to the “ME that I AM.”

One of the glorious freedoms granted to us with an Inside-Out perspective is to be continually questioning of our beliefs, our likes, and our preferences. We are liberated from narrow-mindedness, and all that that brings with it.
Our everyday life becomes predicated on curiosity and change, rather than un-deviated repetition and conservatism.
We are transformed from thinking, feeling and deciding how we want the world to be – and trying and trying to make it BE that way – into accepting that the world just IS.

And we can notice that how WE are BEING in a world that just IS, is far less of a struggle than Outside-In always seems to be.


So, was yesterday really better than today? For me …
  •         Intrinsically – NEVER. As we all of us are, I am on the road unwinding. I know that if I ever get the feeling that on the Inside I feel less better than I did yesterday, last week, last year, 5, 10, 25 years ago – then something is not quite right, RIGHT NOW. In that case I need to take a look at why I FEEL that, because behind that feeling will be some wayward and out-of-kilter Thinking.
  •         Extrinsically? Well, there are times in where we live, the state of society, cost of living, and so on, will be less better or more better than at other times. These are givens – rather like the weather, or the state of the seas. There is no control, for us, over how these things unfold.

The only control we do have, in the moment, is of our perspective brought to our experience via our relationship with our thinking.

And what of Yesterday, I hear you say?
Perhaps it is …

Yesterday, when all my fears I could not allay. 
When tomorrow’s happiness seemed so far away.
Thank goodness, I believed, back yesterday. 
Suddenly I'm not half the youth I used to be. 
There's an age-old shadow cast by me, 
That beckons tomorrow - suddenly.
Why we had to meet, I don't know, I couldn't say. 
For I sang a different song, back ‘ere long, yesterday.
Tomorrow’s love is not the game of some latter day. 
Now there’s no need to hide away.
Thank goodness, I believed, back yesterday.”

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Tenuous Coincidence?

Ralph Vaughan Williams
Walt Whitman

Paths That Cross

My first encounter with the works of Walt Whitman were through my love of the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Of course, back then my young ears paid more attention to the music, the sounds, rather than the texts – however, as time passed by, I began to consider more about the “WHY Whitman” choice of the composer.
It would appear that Vaughan Williams’ own first encounter with Whitman’s works was when he was a student at Cambridge in the late 19th Century; and he was not alone (among composers) in being drawn to the poetry of one of the most famous literary figures of the time.

Certainly, when I first encountered Vaughan Williams’ first symphony – A Sea Symphony – I was bowled over by the opening bars of the movement entitled “A Song for all Seas, all Ships.” Nestled amidst the depths of Whitman’s poem Song of the Exposition is this somewhat unassuming and brief recitative:

Behold the Sea - Itself!

Once you have heard and got to know this great symphony, I am sure that, like me, you repeat, perhaps under your breath, that stirring acclamation - every time you see the sea, in the flesh so to speak. A picture is not enough and is never enough. You really do have to be standing face to face with any mighty body of sea or ocean to get a sense of awe at the sheer majesty of it.
If you listen to this short clip you can get an idea of what meaning I am trying to convey here … 

Towards the Unknown Region

En route to composing A Sea Symphony, Vaughan Williams set another of Whitman’s poems “Darest thou now, O soul” into a work for chorus and orchestra.

Here Vaughan Williams took a complete poem of Walt Whitman’s and entitled the setting as “Towards the Unknown Region.” It was this musical work that was instrumental in my using Whitman’s poem as the inspirational quote for my book ‘Navigating The Ship of You.’

I’d known the music, text et al, for many years – long before I ever became a personal development and performance coach. Yet, once I’d set out to write the book in 2014, it did not take me long to consider using this poem as the inspiring opening frame of reference.

On his blog, Back to Being Gentlemen, Kenneth Baldwin writes about this particular short and insightful work:

"Darest Thou Now, O Soul, is a beautiful poem that I've found myself repeating during hard times. It is a dialogue from a man addressed to his inner self, his courage. There is something universally mysterious and daunting about the unknown paths in our lives. For a rising generation with college degrees and little work, I think this poem has inestimable value. It assesses the difficulty there is in being a pioneer, an explorer, and carving your own path. It calculates the risks and payoffs of blazing new trails.”

For me, in Navigating The Ship of You, the poem is also about courage and bravery – yet with the advantageous possibility of our being a good navigator – as we ply our way across life’s infinite oceans. For me, in this book, Life IS the Unknown Region – for every day is a new journey. And in the finality of life that is Death, it is – to the expert navigator – just another Unknown Region to be made known.

Far be it from me to presume there is anything more than a tenuous link between myself and the literary and musical giants of Walt Whitman and Ralph Vaughan Williams respectively.
If there is any link, however, it has to be about something more than coincidental influence.
My musical tastes are the strongest elements in the chain from my standpoint, for I would never had “found” Whitman had it not been for Vaughan Williams’ music.
As a young man, Vaughan Williams admired and was inspired by Whitman’s works, which set him on the pathway to blending his creativity with Whitman’s words for well over 30 years.

To get a real sense of that admiration and inspiration, here is an article – centred around the Vaughan Williams cantata “Dona Nobis Pacem” - that reveals much about Whitman’s influence:

Finally, here, is Walt Whitman’s poem that set me alight for “Navigating The Ship of You”:

Darest thou now O soul,
Walk out with me toward the unknown region,
Where neither ground is for the feet
                                              nor any path to follow?
No map there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes,
                                               are in that land.
I know it not O soul,
Nor dost thou, all is a blank before us,
All waits undream'd of in that region,
                                             that inaccessible land.
Till when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense,
                                            nor any bounds bounding us.
Then we burst forth, we float,
In Time and Space O soul, prepared for them,
Equal, equipt at last, (O joy! O fruit of all!)
                                            them to fulfil O soul.

Also, if you have a mind to, and would like to listen to how Ralph Vaughan Williams took Whitman’s words above,and blended them with his own creative genius, here is a You Tube link to a BBC Proms Concert performance of “Toward the Unknown Region” in 2013:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Just Another Day on Pen Y Ghent ... my Video Diary!

This is the filmed diary of my day on Pen Y Ghent!

It is a 20 minute film with spoken commentary at times and a musical soundtrack at times. There is video footage and stills, some with captions. You may get a sense of how much the wind featured through the walk/climb.

I do hope you enjoy it and also get something out of it for yourself.

Put the kettle on, make yourself a nice cup of coffee (or tea!) turn the sound up and watch - preferably on as big a screen as you can!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Is it just another day ... ?

The Watershed Experience

Earlier this year, 2017, my coach urged me to compile a “vision board” of all the things I would like to bring into my life - places, people, activities, experiences and so on. I have it in my little office at home and see it on a daily basis, and because of the regular attention it gets, I have a whole raft of visual anchors to keep me purposefully oriented towards a variety of motivational and pleasurable “to-do’s”. 
Needless to say, some of them have since become “have-done’s”as the year has progressed. That too is a good reminder, if I ever needed one, that life IS good - both through these landmark experiences as well as in the more day-to-day stuff in between. 
Now, part of the everyday plateaux, includes preparing for the more climactic things – and with my planned walk of the Yorkshire Peak Pen y Ghent, this certainly did involve quite a bit of multi-layered preparation.


It started with WHEN. It would have to be in September or October, after the schools had gone back, and yet before the onset of possible wintry conditions. I felt midweek would be better than weekends, given what other plans were in my diary – then choosing where to stay and for how long was the next set of variables. These considerations then telescoped out into travel plans; what to pack; whether I’d be going alone; costs, etc.

Next was getting information on everything I thought I might need to know about Pen Y Ghent itself. The summit is well over 2,000ft, so there is the en route temperature change to consider, plus if there’s any breeze blowing then it will be intensified past a certain height. This, and what routes to take, was all research with regards to the external considerations.

Finally, there was all the internal considerations – was I ready; was I fit for purpose, as they say? 

Physically, there was a lot I did by way of preparation in the weeks and days prior to going to Yorkshire. Although I am reasonably fit, especially for my age, I did some longer walks with steep inclines here at home on the SW Coast Path and on Exmoor. Also, just a few days before, I had taken a day trip to Lundy Island, which involved a sea trip, a 10km round the island plus the elevation on the walk from jetty to the island plateau of approx 400ft.

So, I was happy with the physical prep and the condition I was in … which just left the mental side of things!

OK, I’m a specialist mental performance coach – so, what could possibly happen in THAT area that might come along to bite me in the butt?

The Thinking Experience

Given that I’ve talked with many clients over the years, of all ages, about how we can prepare for any performance – this now was an instance where apply to self was going to be looming large! It’s a bit like watching teachers going to sit in the black chair on BBC TV’s Mastermind – “OK, Sir – now show us what you really know!”

The key, of course, to any pre-Performance is about our relationship with our Thinking.
If we have a good understanding of that relationship, AND actually do have a good level of grounded-ness, then we know we’ll be better placed to handle the “curveballs” that are going to come flying towards us through every real-time moment for the duration of the Performance. That is the innate and unquestioning trust we can rely upon in advance.

We’ll also know we’ll be better placed to handle the “gremlins” of unsure-ness and doubt that are going to dance around amongst our thoughts, in both the run-up to, and during, any Performance. Provided we are aroused for the Performance, then there will be gremlins – trust me. They come with the territory – for we are ONLY human after all, and our human frailties accompany us wherever we go.
On my Lundy Island trip, I had no arousal in terms of the outward sea journey – beforehand. However, in real-time some 10 mins into the sailing, I had a massive wake-up call, and I got curveballs AND gremlins coming at me all at once! The sea was quite rough, and the little flat-bottomed ship accentuated every wave we encountered.
Was I prepared? NO!
Was I aroused? YES – suddenly!
Yet my human frailties including everything I was feeling in the moment, driven by thought, were soon assuaged by my relationship with my Thinking. I was re-oriented to what I have recently come to describe as my Thought Horizon.

Through the night, before walking Pen y Ghent, I wouldn’t be truthful if I’d said I was not visited by the odd gremlin! Yet, I didn’t churn stuff over in mind; I wasn’t ploughing up endless fields of thoughts! Yes – I was aroused, of course. This was to be one of life’s special experiences after all – and I was caught up in the arousal generated by anticipation! Certainly, I wasn’t caught up in the arousal generated by stressful anxiety or worry, about what might - or might not – happen to me on the morrow, however.

The Ascent Begins!

The weather was, as per forecast – set fair and dry.
There was a breeze, so I knew what that would bring.

I drove to Horton in Ribblesdale and parked in the Yorkshire Dales National Park car park; togged up with my footwear; five layers of torso clothing; GoPro camera; mobile phone; stocked-up back pack; sunglasses; and Uncle Tom Cobley and all!

I could see Pen y Ghent almost beckoning me from some three miles away. From this moment forward it was only going to be all about
Right Here, Right Now.

As the ascent began to unfold I had two early “curveball” moments of awareness – one physical and one mental.
The physical one was a feeling of discomfort in the chest at the top left-hand side of the ribcage. Was it a tightness in breathing terms, heart-related, or merely the back-pack straps pulling hard due to five layers of clothing?
The mental one was when I got a first glimpse of the bigger picture of how I was approaching Pen y Ghent. From here there was still over 2 miles to go, and boy did it look high up in the sky! Suddenly the I that is me seemed very small and insignificant!

I’ve heard it said that for a human being to experience AWE is probably the most profound experience of all. This particular “curveball”, I surmise, was one of the by-products of AWE. 

Yet, don’t we readily, and regularly, trivialise and mis-use the real meaning of the word when we say “awesome”? 
I was, as it happened, to use that very same word repeatedly over the ensuing hours.


The relentless ascent continued, and, as the Pennine Way pathway snaked interminably into the distance in my field of vision, I passed many walkers coming down whilst at the same time becoming aware that I seemed to be the only one that was going up this “Blue” route.

When I’d been togging up in the car park there were a couple of fell runners also togging up. We started out almost together, and I guessed they had gone up the “Red” route; they said “Hello!” as they ran down past me looking very much like their mission was almost accomplished whereas mine was still at early doors!

My pauses to catch breath became more frequent, understandably – however I did notice that the tightness in the chest near the heart had melted away.

Finally, I arrived at the turning point – a sharp turn in the path that signified what I called “The Final Assault.” I took another pause, and did some filming here for about 5 minutes – for the prospect was stunningly awesome to behold!

Little did I know at this stage that much more AWE was waiting for me!


I finally made it to the top and here I am leaning on the Trig Point as proof!
The Ascent was, indeed, all about stamina – my own capacity of physical resilience and endurance. This was everything I had prepped for, and my prep had got me up here in good time, without any trials or tribulations.

I’d been saying to myself for the best part of a year that I would “GO UP” Pen y Ghent.
And now I had!!
The glow, the sense of achievement, was almost tangible – in spite of 30+mph winds and buffeting gusts!

I drank deep from my water bottle, and stuffed my mouth with dates, one after another. I must have footled around for the best part of half an hour, soaking up everything I could see, hear, eat and drink. When I finally got the feeling that this was all beginning to sink in, I put away my refreshments and got ready to start down.

There’d been a party of school children there when I arrived and they’d gone down the “Red” route. My original decision to take that route down was, therefore, endorsed by their actions – so, without further ado, I loaded up and set off, into the teeth of the strong and buffeting wind!

The Descent

There is a point, on this picture, where the flagstoned pathway meets the lip of the hill. It is a very unassuming piece of perspective, when taken from a distance. However, when I reached the “vanishing point” I have to say this was when the next “curveball” hit me.
For a moment, all the prepping seemed to melt to a mush; my resilience was blown away on the strong wind; and I called out to someone called "Kinnell!"

Here is a bit of script from the OS Walking Guide as to the last part of going UP the “Red” route.

“As you approach the ‘nose’ of Pen-y-ghent your route takes you over a stile to join the Pennine Way, heading north-west-ish and towards the summit via a fun and exhilarating scramble. On the steeper sections of the scramble, have three points of contact, take it steady and do not rush as it can be slippery.”

I had approached the “nose” from the other direction, and was heading DOWN the fun and exhilarating scramble – in strong and gusty winds. Yes, it was, as the guide said, slippery. What it didn’t say was that it was nigh on vertical at the top!

The Zone

“The Zone is one of those things in performance that elevates our activity from something we love, to something that brings us a level of profound and utter ecstasy.

To be able to go there when we choose, rather than stumble upon the experience just by chance or luck, is much more accessible than we realise. As we are buoyed along understanding the parts played by thought, equilibrium, love and devotion, we experience effortless action. Along the way we encounter an altered perception of Focus and Absorbed Attention, the dual constituents of Concentration.

And we intuitively know that none of this ever happens when we try too hard with the things that really matter to us. We really do have to let go of that trying.

Our every performance is vital to our quality of life – and enhancing the way we perform can transform our lives every step of the way.”

These words are written on the back cover of my book Gateways to the Zone – Pathways to Peak Performance. 

The book was published in 2013 and, because I’d written lots of books and articles since, and encountered many personal insights and light-bulb moments, I’d been rather foolishly dismissive of the book, its message, its purpose, and its usefulness - as a piece of work - in enabling people towards performing with effortless action. Fortunately, it was my own expressed wisdom and it came back to me in my hour of need!

The Ultimate Watershed Moment

I had been in The Zone when walking UP Pen y Ghent. Of that I was sure, especially as I had been at the summit some time before I came around to savouring the moment, and tasted the undiluted sense of success. It had been about stamina, both physical and mental, and my performance had delivered me up to that level of profound and utter ecstasy!

This, NOW, was very different.

After the initial “Oh Wow!” there were a number of thoughts and actions then that I now remember quite vividly.
Holding a good balance in the wind, I looked down and began to pick a pathway that had an entry AND an exit point – and by exit point I mean a point where I could pause and then take stock of the NEXT pathway. That was my strategy for the route down.
To be fair, the hardest part was choosing the very first pathway – for not only did it set the right way for the subsequent moves, it also involved finding a strong fingers and hand hold for a start to launch my feet, one by one over the top edge.

The other thing I remember was that I never looked back, or even 
considered going back.

That was never an option – neither was taking any photos or video footage! It was out of the question – due to the strength of the wind and the gusts. I was totally single minded, focussed and 100% absorbed in the moment.
By the time the descent had reached the stage when it became FUN as well as exhilarating, I was able to take some more pictures.


If my journey to the summit was all about stamina, then my journey down was all about nerve. Put quite simply, I held my nerve on the descent. There were consequences waiting to happen if had been anything other than totally 100% in the now, in the PRESENT moment.
I could have turned back, yet that would have sullied the achievement.
I could have slipped, and been brought down on a stretcher or worse!

For me, now, the world feels different and I feel different. And, to put it another way, this is how we ALL experience a change of perspective. In whatever way we saw the world before right here, right now, it was – quite simply – an illusion made up by our thinking. That is how a change in perspective brings about such instant change for us. It is OUR thinking that has changed.
As quantum physicist David Bohm said,
“Thought creates the world and then says, ‘I didn’t do it.”

And if there are some quotes that ring more truly for me right now then I’ll take these for starters …

“The only Zen to be found at the tops of mountains is that which we take up there with us”

“By Failing to Prepare you are Preparing to Fail.”

“Expect the Unexpected”

“What goes up must come down.”

Monday, October 9, 2017

Affect - Affected - Affection


Affect: ( verb)      To act upon; to influence; to move the feelings of
            (noun)      The emotion that lies behind action; an emotional state
Affected: (adjective)   Having power to move the emotions
Affection: (noun)    Love; attachment; influencing; emotion; disposition;

In reading Lisa Feldman Barrett’s excellent book “How Emotions Are Made” I encountered her use of the word Affect often, so I delved deeper into the somewhat ambiguous uses of the word Affect in terms of our verbal language.
“Scholars and Scientists confused affect and emotion for centuries.” She writes. “Affect is your basic sense of feeling, ranging from unpleasant to pleasant (valence) and from agitated to calm (arousal). Emotion is a much more complex mental construction.
Many scientists use the word “affect” when they really mean emotion … affect is not specific to emotion; it is a feature of consciousness.”

When I wrote about the “Iceberg of Language” in the book Navigating The Ship of You, I described the vehicle of language as being metaphorically akin to an iceberg floating on the surface. Above the surface (the visible part) is our verbal language and below the surface is the non-verbal language of our senses plus our internal language of Self.

The senses, as I put it, are the usual VAKOG group (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory, gustatory) plus Balance, Time and Self (once we have a sense of Self, you understand.)
Now, with the codification facility of any learnt verbal language, we all have the means of conveying meaning to both others AND ourselves – with specific regard to the language of our Senses
We put the meaning we wish to convey INTO WORDS.
Yet we know that when we do this, that the words are often woefully inadequate to express what we really mean. If you’re not sure then consider expressing these instances:-
A sunset, a work of art.
A piece of music, the voice of a loved one.
The touch of a loved one, a burning flame.
Smelling salts, a damask rose.
A lemon, chocolate, curry.
Dizziness, Losing our footing.
Past, Present, Future.
Identity, Sentience.

A kiss, the holding of hands, a hug, an arm around the shoulder – these all carry so much more meaning than we could ever convey with words.
Dizziness or losing our footing usually causes us to give out nondescript cries such as "Woaaa" or "Aaaagh" before we either regain our balance or hit the ground.
Yet, with these two instances, let’s say, we can plug into meaning very well when we consider them from the perspective of understanding Affect.

A feeling is a sensation that has been checked against previous experiences and labelled.
An emotion is the projection/display of a feeling. Unlike feelings, the display of emotion can be either genuine or feigned.
An affect is a non-conscious experience of intensity; it is a moment of unformed and unstructured potential.

Here, above, are some salient points that help with our understanding of where our thinking, our thought processes, our harnessing of the Power of Thought, has a relationship with our Senses, and in particular, our Sense of Self.
It illustrates clearly and points us towards realising how Emotions are constructed. And once we gain an understanding that our Emotions ARE constructed, then we can gain the ability to both not be prisoners of them, or at the mercy of them, in terms of Experience.
Similarly, we can gain the ability to not be ruled by, or at the mercy of, our Memories.
With immediate effect, our Relationship with our Thinking shifts to a new perspective – and we get a sense that something Transformative has happened.

I’ve always held the view that we use Emotion to vivify, to add more richness to, every experience. If the experience is good or bad (in terms of valence and arousal) we have the capacity to enhance it by adding Emotion in there, prior to committing it to Memory. Once committed to memory, any experience can be easily flagged up with the emotional tagging present.
If you’re not quite sure what I mean, then consider your memories of visits to the dentist. Similarly, the experience of a delicious meal at a particular restaurant in delightful or intimate company, will be flagged up for memory accordingly, with many varieties of vividly constructed emotion enhancements.
With all the unmemorable and bland experiences, we choose not to add in Emotion. There is no reason to do so, so we filter the dull and featureless out of committing to memory.
And when we might go out and get an induced high, or go on a bender – then at some point there will be oblivion, maybe even unconsciousness. Then we will only remember what it felt like prior to losing our sense of experience.

So now, having unpacked my understanding of Feelings, Emotions and Affect I’d like to mention some recent experiences where I felt decidedly different due to Affect.
I was not led into interpreting them as Feelings and then enhancing them with Emotion – rather I held the Affect Experience at an unconscious level … with the meaning maintained within my Self, held in place by the Language of Self.

I recently spent approximately four hours at sea in a small, shallow draught ship, travelling across rough seas. Every wave we encountered affected the stability of the ship relative to the horizon, and for the first 60-90 minutes of the journey that horizon was enclosed, indistinct and vaguely nebulous. This was caused by misty, fine rain driven by strong winds.
Some hours after returning to land, sat in a chair, I became aware of the sensation of still being on board ship with the rocking back and forth and side to side. When I went to bed and was laid horizontal, the sensation of that motion was still playing out through my Sense of Balance. This was Affect – it didn’t feel uncomfortable, it didn’t feel anything other than the Affect. There was no Emotional attachment to the experience. There’s no thoughts going around my head saying, “Well I don’t want to, or hope I don’t, feel that way again in a hurry! It wasn’t nice!” For those thoughts would have been me constructing Emotions.

Today, as I write, the Affect is not present. My Sense of Balance has returned to a more stable state of equilibrium.

Whilst the above Affective experience concerned Balance, the other concerns our Kinaesthetic sense.

You’ll have heard it said, “You never forget your first Kiss.” Well there’s a number of reasons of course – starting with Affect. This is your first, so the Feeling is entirely new. So, this starts out as a rich, raw Affective experience. There may be some other Feelings and Emotions playing out at the same time this first Kiss is going on – such as how you feel about the person you are Kissing, what has brought the two of you together in this moment, etc etc. Yet, a Kiss is a unique “in the NOW” experience – when it starts the moment begins and when it ends the moment is gone. Then all the assessments, the judgements, the describings and the Emotional painting, start to take place.
From then on, each Kiss will only ever be another – for the first one has BEEN. In our personal taxonomy of Kissing there will still be First ones with certain persons, which we might have a special place for in the grand scheme of things.

A Kiss, whatever the form, is for the perpetrators, an exchange of meaning without words using the language of the Kinaesthetic Sense. No more – no less.
All Kinaesthetic language is far more rich and varied than we might ever have words for.
When we give someone a hug, or take their hand, there is a considerable amount of non-verbal language going on – and within that language, using that particular vehicle, meaning is communicated and conveyed between people.

Now here’s the thing:-
In terms of kinaesthetic exchanges, like the above mentioned ones – given all the non-verbal communication, and the pre-presence of Feelings and Emotions – do we ever get the chance to have an Affective Experience?

Well I would have probably said “highly unlikely” as an answer, mainly because regularity and familiarity of can mask the possibility of our noticing any sensation at the level of Affect. 
Until, that is, I had some recent experience of holding hands with a good friend. Oddly enough, the only way I can describe it is as being “A non-conscious experience of intensity. A moment of unformed and unstructured potential.”
So, was this really Affect, or was it a one-way, directed Affection?
Well, for me it was the former mainly because I experienced it at THAT level. I would not presume to ask my friend either, since there was meaning exchanged between us that was beyond words – and why would I trivialise a profound experience by endeavouring to discover the meaning USING WORDS. I already got the meaning anyway!

The other interesting thing to note is that I cannot say how I Feel about the experience, mainly because I never added in any Emotion at the time, in order to vivify and flag up the Memory for re-presenting later. Because my Sense of Self holds the experience at an unconscious level, try as I may, I cannot recall what the various instances of mutual hand holding felt like. It is the same as with my distorted balance from sailing the rough seas, before regaining equilibrium.


Without my understanding of Affect, I would have described both of these experiences in a different way. And these descriptions would have been both incorrect and inadequate, laced with interpretive thought and coded into Memory with degrees of Emotional enhancement.

Affect is certainly a feature of consciousness – yet how can it be that a feature of consciousness is also described as being “a non-conscious experience of intensity”?
For me, this places such an experience as being “felt with the heart” - outside of intellectual awareness – rather than being noticed in our subjective consciousness.  

Food for thought, certainly – yet mainly for thought processes with our non-verbal language of the Senses
Transformative? Considerably!

My article “The Iceberg of Language", taken from the book, is here: