A child’s wisdom

The other day as I was meditating I had a spiritual visitor arrive desperate to give me a message.  This wasn’t a lost soul, entity or angel as such.  It was me when I was a child.  She made it very clear to me that my life was out of balance and I needed to have some fun.

On reflection I have to admit that life has become very serious, partly due to being busy and focusing on managing my time as best I can.  I’ve really been operating on
auto-pilot to get things done but, somewhere along the way I had stopped living in a full and satisfying way.  And I’m sure I’m not the only one.  For me,
little Jackie decided to step in and give me a kick and her method is so much more effective than somebody just telling me to go and have some fun.

When we’re born our hearts are open and the possibilities for our life are endless.  However, as time goes by these possibilities seem to get hidden, swamped or discarded.  Responsibilities weigh us down and, for many of us, living becomes something that needs to be done to get through each day.

As a young child I expected to be loved.  I expected to be considered as much as anybody else.  I was curious and wanted to do things that I liked and that were fun.

I was lucky, coming from a stable and what could be termed a ‘normal’ family.  But very young children before they have learnt about the world and the circumstances they’ve been born into , have similar expectations.

As an adult trying to make my way in the world these expectations have gradually eroded but, what I realise now is how much I miss them and how influential they are on the quality of my life and on other people’s perceptions of me.

Now it’s time to bring those expectations back.   When I’m in a situation where everything becomes too stressed or serious I ask my seven year old self how she would handle it.  Let me give you an example.  I had a very busy week where it seemed nearly impossible that I was going to do everything I had agreed to do.  The only option was to forgo so
sleep to get everything done and, as I become a bit of a grouch without sleep, I was stressing myself out.  Little Jackie reminded me that I really wanted to do everything and surely that was more important than sleep for a little while.  I was reminded how sleep didn’t figure during Christmas when I was a child!

What could your child self teach you?

Jackie Notman is an intuitive adviser and coach who works on an energetic level with individuals and businesses using tools such as Feng Shui, Numerology, Dowsing, Astrology and the Tarot.   This article is from her blog ‘Life – and everything else’ where you’ll find an eclectic mix of articles and information.

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Go Feng Shui yourself

Feng Shui is most often discussed in terms of our environment: our homes, our workplaces and our gardens or outside spaces.  We, as energetic beings, interact with the energy of our environment.

There’s no doubt in my mind that, by applying Feng Shui knowledge, we can ensure a harmonious space in which to exist.

However, there is another aspect of Feng Shui which is often overlooked.  If you’ve read any of my other articles on Feng Shui you will know that I talk of layers: we can view everything fairly superficially to begin with and then delve deeper into another layer and another layer until we find the perfect environment for us at that time.  Another way to use layers in Feng Shui is to think of the environment as one layer, time as another layer and ourselves as layer too.  After all, if we Feng Shui the space we’re in shouldn’t we Feng Shui ourselves too?

So, how do you Feng Shui yourself?  It probably won’t surprise you to learn that this has many layers too.  On a superficial level we start by treating our physical body in a way that conforms to Feng Shui principles.  Feng Shui is part of the system known as Tao (The Way) which also includes macrobiotics, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, shiatsu, chi kung and tai chi.  So, we have some guidance on how and what we should nourish our body with and keep it in balance to maintain good health.

Now let’s go beyond the physical.  Feng Shui, and in fact Tao generally, is about balance.  It isn’t about achieving and holding on to a balanced state.  Instead it’s the activity or dance of energies that constantly go on with the aim of achieving balance.  This dance gives us our energy, creativity, vitality and passion.  In Feng Shui these energies can be broadly categorised into 8 segments (before slipping into more detailed layers!).  These are represented by the trigrams (three lines showing a mix of yin and yang energy) and shown on a diagram known as the Bagua (8 Palaces).

Bagua from FS168 Feng ShuiEach of these Palaces represents a category of our life: wealth, recognition, relationships, children, support, career, education and health.  It’s quite sensible to assume that, if we focus too much on one aspect of our lives that other aspects will suffer from lack of attention.  In fact, a buzz phrase in business at the moment is ‘work-life balance’ and a model used by life coaches is similar to that of the Bagua.  This clearly demonstrates that a system that is thousands of years old is as relevant today as it’s always been.

Let’s use it now to bring some balance into your life:

1. Take the 8 areas shown above and mark out of 10 your current satisfaction level (with 1 being poor and 10 being completely satisfied).  This is your benchmark and shows the areas you need to work on first.

  • Wealth
  • Recognition (do you get noticed for what you do?)
  • Relationships (family, partners and social)
  • Children (whether you want them, don’t want them, have them or not)
  • Support (who’s there to listen, lend a hand or pick up the pieces if needed)
  • Career (or business if self employed)
  • Education (knowledge, qualifications, experience etc)
  • Health

2. Now focus on the area with the lowest mark:

  • Write in detail how this part of your life would look to score it a 10/10
  • Go back over the detail and highlight the bits that would give you a middle score (between your original low mark and 10/10).  This will add a sense of realism to the process and provides a focus for short term goals
  • Now write down at least three things that you could do that would take you closer to this reality

3. Up to now this process probably sounds like a coaching session but here’s where the Feng Shui bit comes in because you can invigorate the appropriate energy in that sector of your life that will help you to achieve the actions you have written down.  For each sector you are working on you can apply the following to your home, room or even an altar that you set up to focus on bringing your life back into balance.

  • If you are working on your Wealth sector use Water in the form of dark blues and black colour, water imagery or even an indoor fountain in the south east area of your home, room or altar.
  • If you are working on your Recognition sector use Wood in the form of green tones, tree imagery or houseplants in the south area of your home, room or altar.
  • If you are working on your Relationship sector use Fire in the form of red tones, triangular shapes and lots of light in the south west area of your home, room or altar.
  • If you are working on your Children sector use Earth in the form of neutral and yellow/brown colours, square shapes or pottery in the west area of your home, room or altar.
  • If you are working on your Support sector use Earth in the form of neutral and yellow/brown colours, square shapes or pottery in the north west area of your home, room or altar.
  • If you are working on your Career sector use Metal in the form of white, gold and silver colours, domed shapes or glass/chrome decoration in the north area of your home, room or altar.
  • If you are working on your Education sector use Fire in the form of red tones, triangular shapes and lots of light in the north east area of your home, room or altar.
  • If you are working on your Health sector use Water in the form of dark blues and black colour, water imagery or even an indoor fountain in the east area of your home, room or altar.

4. Work on one sector at a time.  Don’t try to change everything all at once as it will make the dance of energies even more erratic and balance longer to find.

5. Once you are happy to up your mark in that particular sector then start work on the next lowest scoring sector.

6. If you can, consult an accredited Feng Shui consultant to survey your home and/or workplace.  Any changes they can recommend will support your inner Feng Shui work.

Jackie Notman is a copywriter, feng shui consultant and e-commerce retailer.  This article is from her blog ‘Life – and everything else’ where you’ll find an eclectic mix of articles and information.

 This Feng Shui information is general for everybody. However, there are deeper levels of Feng Shui which take into account you and your specific business or home environment. 

 If you would like to find out more about living in harmony with your environment, and using energy to your advantage, contact Jackie Notman on 07920 461574 or through her website www.fs168.co.uk

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The money-less pioneers

During my research for another project I came across various people of different lifestyles, cultures and backgrounds who had decided to give up money, or at least aim to live in a world where money wasn’t a key player.

Heidemarie Schwermer lives in Germany and set up the successful Gib und Nimm (Give and Take) exchange bureaus where people can exchange their skills with others.  Originally set up to help the homeless it has become popular with the unemployed and retired but the homeless have rejected it.

The experience made Heidemarie evaluate her life and her possessions.  The simpler her life became so her happiness increased.  She decided to try a nomadic lifestyle, trading her skills for accommodation, and enjoyed it so much that she continues to live this way with very few possessions and 200 euros emergency fund.

Mark Boyle took the step into a cashless world in 2009.  Although he’d always been ‘green’, working in ethical businesses since achieving his business and economics degree several years earlier, he wanted to go further.  He believes that the structure of our world is so complicated that we are unable to see the repercussions of our actions.  For example, if we grew our own food we wouldn’t be so wasteful with it.

So, he found an old caravan and offered his services to an organic farm near Bristol in the UK in return for a pitch.  Growing most of his own food and using coppiced wood for heating and cooking he survives with the help of an investment in a solar panel and picking up waste food from supermarkets.  He has also written a book and runs a website to publicise his way of life.

Suelo lives without money because that is the only way he knows of living with a clear conscience.  He cites many reasons that led him to this point: instincts; politics, spiritual frustration; health; economics and fun.  In dealing with his spiritual frustration and dis-satisfaction with his life he discovered simplicity and, eventually, money lost its importance. 

Suelo travels around the United States living off the land and, when he needs things he usually finds them discarded.

I read these stories, as well as others, with mixed reactions.  Firstly these people seem so free: I’m checking my bank statement, looking at the long list of automatic debits that go out each month.  The mortgage, the insurances that are paid ‘just in case’ and that I have to have otherwise I’m not allowed the mortgage or to drive the car.  My bank statement now looks like a cage and their way of life looks wonderful.

Then I think of how I would do everything I wanted to do without money.  People look down on you if you have no money.  Would I look down on me if I had no money?  Would my view of myself change?

All these people rely on the generosity of others.  These others work in the world where money exists and their generosity is either active – they give you something they don’t want anymore, or passive, they throw things away that you can pick up.  Whether active or passive you can only rely on people’s generosity when you have a world where money exists.  If we all decided to live without that medium then the generosity would disappear and we may see a different side to the human race. 

So, are these people, these pioneers of a new way of living, just being idealistic but really using the very system they want to remove to fund their lifestyles?  Possibly.  But, if you look deeper, there are aspects that we can take on board.

The need for simplicity is apparent.  The fact that possessions do not bring long lasting happiness or fulfillment is also clear and probably recognised by many.  The importance of seeing the bigger picture and working together as a human race to ensure we have resources for all.

A world based on money is not inherently wrong.  Money is energy and, as with any energy, the way we use it can be either beneficial or detrimental.  It may just be that the energy systems of our planet are a little out of balance at the moment with excessive importance being made on money.  And we can all do a little bit to redress that balance with the way we use our own money and to bring pressure on governments, institutions and businesses in the way they use money.

Deciding to go the whole way and give up money completely is extreme.  However, for those who do, their motivation for making that choice will depend on whether they are successful.  As Suelo says:

People sometimes think all their problems will go away if they give up money….Money is an addiction……the problem isn’t the addictive substance, the problem is your emptiness inside.  If you have no emptiness inside, you aren’t going to want more stuff.

So maybe we should start with the emptiness inside before we blame our problems on money.

Jackie Notman is a copywriter, feng shui consultant and e-commerce retailer.  This article is from her blog ‘Life – and everything else’ where you’ll find an eclectic mix of articles and information.

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The power of Anyway

How many times do you make a decision to do something based on the outcome or anticipated outcome?

How many times does the judgement, approval or response of other people dictate your actions?

How many times will you ignore your inner voice in favour of others?

If it’s too many times you need the power of Anyway and the best way to explain it is through a notice on the wall of Shishu Bhavan, a children’s home run by The Missionaries of Charity Order in Calcutta: 

ANYWAY

People are unreasonable, illogical and self centred.

Love them Anyway

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.

Do good Anyway

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.

Succeed Anyway

The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow.

Do good Anyway

Honest and frankness makes you vulnerable.

Be honest and frank Anyway

What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight.

Build Anyway

People really need help but may attack you if you help them.

Help people Anyway

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world the best you’ve got Anyway

 

Isn’t it time for Anyway to have a place in your life?

Jackie Notman is a copywriter, feng shui consultant and e-commerce retailer.  This article is from her blog ‘Life – and everything else’ where you’ll find an eclectic mix of articles and information.

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Aerobics for your Soul (the ultimate workout)

Is there something missing in your life? You keep your body fit, you have an active mind and healthy emotions but, does it sometimes feel as if it’s not enough? What else could you need?

Some people would call it our soul or spirit, maybe our inner light. Our search for fulfilment is such big business now that Australia hosts an annual International Conference on Happiness and its Causes.

When there’s something missing in our life there is a space that needs to be filled. We may try to fill that space with food, drink, drugs, work or numerous other activities. And any of those may work – for a while. The last thing we do is contemplate the space and why we feel empty. And yet it’s the only way to really deal with it.

If there is something missing in your life, try focussing on your soul. If we don’t nurture our soul, our light grows dim but, just like your physical body, you can exercise your soul and your light will burn brightly again. However, unlike physical exercise, you do not need your doctor’s approval or expensive equipment and there are no contra-indications.

Smiley Happiness

The greatest exercise is a genuine smile

Too good to be true? Try these seven steps and see the results for yourself. Practise each step for a week at a time before moving on. This will ensure that each exercise becomes a habit and then part of your lifestyle.

Step 1 – Be kind to others
Do you feel connected to everyone else or do you leave the house each day prepared for battle? When was the last time a complete stranger smiled at you? How did you react?

We nearly always get back what we give out. Confrontation sparks confrontation, rudeness fuels rudeness, kindness attracts kindness. When you offer kindness, the effect isn’t always immediate if people are suspicious, but be prepared for this reaction and you’ll soon work through it.

You are aiming to make some connection with other people, understanding the effect you can have on somebody else and learning that it’s as beneficial to give as it is to receive. There is only one rule – don’t expect anything in return, just give unconditionally.
Here are a few ideas:

  • Smile at strangers. An American survey (Logitech 2002) found that 90 per cent of respondents thought smiling made the world a better place, 93 per cent of people usually smile back when someone smiles at them and 87 per cent said smiling made people feel good about themselves. Smiling not only brightens up everybody else’s day, it will make you feel better too.
  • Give somebody the rest of the time on your parking ticket rather than shoving it into your car ashtray.
  • Make eye contact and say good morning to people.
  • Tell someone when they look nice or if they have done something well.
  • Acknowledge when somebody is being kind to you. Thank them for their help. After all, they are probably doing their soul workout too – just like you.

Who knows what other opportunities will arise to show kindness. Wake up each day determined to look for them.

Step 2 – Be kind to yourself
Most of us would never dream of abusing another person yet we frequently abuse ourselves. Do you place excessive demands on yourself, trying to do too many things in too short a time? Do you allow yourself time to relax without feeling guilty? When you look in the mirror do you like what you see? Would you treat anybody else the way you treat yourself?

This step is about acknowledging that your soul is as worthy as every other. It’s about the respect you have for you. For some of us this may be difficult so take it slowly over a longer period of time. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Look in the mirror and acknowledge what you like. If you can’t find anything, keep looking until you can.
  • Every evening, think about what went well in your day and what you achieved.
  • When you make appointments or plan your day leave some gaps. Just 10 minutes means the difference between arriving stressed and arriving calm.
  • When you need to make choices or decisions, consider your own opinions as well as those of everybody else. This is not the same as being selfish, eg, disregarding other people’s opinions.
  • Do something for you. It’s often easier to put your wants and needs at the bottom of the list but just occasionally non-conform and put them at the top. If you find this hard then start slowly, perhaps doing something once a month and then progress to weekly.
  • Break up life’s routine. Is each day regimented? Does your life tick away with the same activities on the same days at the same times? If you get up every day and go onto auto-pilot your life will fly by and you’ll wonder where it went and why you didn’t notice. So break up some of the routine: change your make up, take aanother route to work, read a different newspaper and keep working on your soul exercises because a lively soul will reawaken your interest in life.

Step 3 – Find the beauty in everything
In step 2 I suggested you look in the mirror and notice the good things about you. Use it in this step too and find the beauty in you.

There is beauty everywhere but most of the time we are not in the mood to see or are too stressed to notice. If you have to get up early because you’ve a busy day ahead, then notice the sunrise, or hear the birds singing, or feel the peace before the rush hour starts. In a traffic jam, look up and see some of the lines and decorations of the buildings, or notice people’s gardens.

If you’re with somebody else then share the beautiful things you notice and, if they respond negatively, just keep on sharing.

You need to be vigilant when practising this exercise but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Beautiful things are all around waiting to be found.

Step 4 – De-clutter
Of course, we may miss some of the beauty if it’s hidden behind mess. So, our next step is about making some space, whether that’s in your house, handbag or car. This step is not just about clearing physical space, it’s about letting energy flow smoothly.

Energy, in all its different forms, makes up our world. Certain types of energy are active, wanting to move and flow and nothing stops that energy more than clutter.
Clutter attracts energy and holds it. It makes it thick and sluggish and, if not cleared, this will affect you. Don’t take my word for it. Have a good clear out and see how well you feel.

Step 5 – Dance and Sing
A study in Ohio, USA (Bowling Green State Unversity) showed that 70 per cent of respondents felt music was important to them because it elicited emotions. Further research at Cornell University showed that music can cause changes in our heart rates, our temperature and respiration. The same study showed that happiness was felt when a certain type of music was played.

If you’re not the type to dance and sing then start slowly and just listen to some music (make sure it’s toe tapping stuff). Join in with the chorus, quietly at first and then as loud as you like. Then start moving – that is what your body is designed to do. Let the music fill your soul and your body will respond. Put away anything breakable, the cat may want to go out too, then let rip.

Many cultures use dance and chanting to connect to the spirit world. Once you let your inhibitions go this is an excellent way to connect all aspects of you: switch off your mind, let the music tease out your emotions and express yourself through your body.

Step 6 – Wear bright colours
In summer, when the sun is shining we wear bright colours. On holiday we do the same and our mood is happy and sunny. When the days are short and cold we wear blacks and greys and blend into the day.

Brightly coloured clothes not only affect your mood but also the mood of other people who see you wearing them. Red is the colour of energy, yellow of sunshine, green of nature. There is always a place for black but there is also a place for bold colours, even if it’s just a scarf or a handbag. So be bold and brighten up the world.

Step 7 – Switch off the TV
However, you can only brighten the world if you go out in it. How easy is it to stay in and watch the box? On average we each watch over 4 hours of TV a day. Not only does TV take up an enormous amount of time but studies have shown that we become less happy, less active and more tense after watching it (Rutgers University & University of Chicago, USA).

If there’s a lot of TV in your life then go slowly: be more selective in the programmes you watch and then progress to having one TV-less day a week. Who knows how you’ll spend the time. That’s the exciting bit!

When you have completed this last step, go back to the beginning and start again.
Before you know it you won’t be taking steps at all but living a life that nourishes your soul and may just fill that empty space.

Jackie Notman is a copywriter, feng shui consultant and e-commerce retailer. This article is from her blog ‘Life – and everything else’ where you’ll find an eclectic mix of articles and information.

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Do we need Catweazle to help us open our eyes?

Some of you may remember Catweazle.  For others he may have passed you by or perhaps you weren’t around then.

Catweazle

Curiosity doesn't kill the Catweazle

Catweazle was the title character in a 1970s children’s TV programme in the UK.  He was a wizard that lived in the 11th century and managed to transport himself through time to the 20th century – the 1970s.  As you can imagine his new world would have seemed truly magical and amazing when seen through 11th century eyes.

I loved Catweazle: he questioned everything, took everything apart and broke a lot of things to.  Needless to say the recent announcement that he is going to experience a movie remake caught my eye.

The original scriptwriter, Richard Carpenter, will provide the screenplay for the new movie.  His motivation for creating the original TV series was ‘concern that children seemed to accept technology with barely a thought about how it worked and (I) thought that a character who saw modern scientific advances like electricity and motorcars with a fresh questioning eye would help to interest children in science.

I started to wonder about the huge technological advances that have been made since the original series in the 1970s: our world now would seem truly magical to someone picked up from that decade and transported here.  Yet we take all this technology for granted: being in constant contact with people; having information at our fingertips 24/7; portraying our lives on social media for all to see and living on credit in a virtual money world.

All these things we accept without understanding not only how these systems work but whether they are a good way to live our lives.  Slowly, insipidly, we are giving over control of our lives and ‘computer says no’ is no longer a funny catchphrase from Little Britain but a real situation.

If all the world’s computer systems crashed or were hacked it is said that our world would stop functioning.  And why?  Because we don’t understand the computerised lives that we have built for ourselves and we’ve become so dependent on living through technology that we wouldn’t initially know what to do if it went wrong.  Of course, we’d rediscover how to live our lives in a simpler way, but at what cost?

You might think that I’m against technology, harking back to a simpler life and say it’s my age or whatever.  I love technology.  I love the internet and the potential it offers.  But, like everything, technology offers both advantages and disadvantages.  Rather than embracing technology completely it might be worth questioning it first.  Do a Catweazle: break it down, understand how it works and then just take the best bits for you.  That way you stay in control (somewhat!)

Jackie Notman is a copywriter, feng shui consultant and e-commerce retailer.  This article is from her blog ‘Life – and everything else’ where you’ll find an eclectic mix of articles and information.

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Do you know your place?

Why are we here? 

What is my purpose?

Such huge questions that pop into nearly everybody’s mind at some time in their life.  Personally I’d given up pondering on those subjects but, just recently events have synchronised to make me think again and I’d like to share my thoughts with you.

If you studied your science subjects at school you’ll be familiar with the fact that everything in our universe is made of energy.  Everything is energy: the rate at which that energy vibrates determines how we experience it.  A slower vibration and we experience things on a physical level: a wooden table, a tree, you and me.  As the vibration gets higher we may get a sense such as smell or a feeling.  Higher vibrations are experienced by Sensitives and Intuitives through psychic and mediumship skills.  Go even higher than that and there is a whole world out there that we know nothing about.

The belief system of Tao (pronounced Dow rhymes with Cow), which forms the basis of Feng Shui, believes that energy comes from two sources.  The Yang or hard, masculine energy comes from above and is known as Heaven Chi.  The softer, feminine Yin energy comes from below and is known as Earth Chi.  When the two meet there’s a whole lot of Yin and Yang mixing going on and the relative amounts of Yin and Yang energy in anything denotes its character.

What is also believed is that man, or humankind, sits between Heaven and Earth and so is fundamental in that mixing process.

As a Feng Shui consultant this is an important point that I try to ensure my clients understand:  whatever our problems, we are part of the solution (and probably part of the problem too!).  We can’t manipulate the energy of our environment without taking into account our own energy too so participation is key.

I’ve also recently been studying the yoga philosophy of Vanda Scaravelli and her book Awakening the Spine: The Stress-free New Yoga that Works with the Body to Restore Health, Vitality and Energy.  She likens our physical bodies to that of a tree: the stronger the roots the taller a tree can reach up and grow.  Likewise by grounding the lower part of our body in our everyday posture as well as our yoga practise, we are able to reach higher with our upper body through lengthening our spine.

It is only by having a strong connection with the earth that we can reach the sky.  Having tried this way of working in yoga I can tell you that it works.

So, I understand man’s place to connect the Earth Chi and the Heaven Chi.  I understand physically how I can connect with both these energies through yoga for my own benefit.

And then, a couple of days ago, I was fortunate enough to take part in a group meditation where we connected with the very ancient stones of Avebury in the UK.  It was a fascinating experience.  Nothing can be more grounding than those stones and the experience showed me that, where I had used physical grounding in order to lift my body, so I could use spiritual grounding in order to reach higher vibrations.  As above, so below.

Children in silhouette reaching for the sky

Are we the switch that keeps heaven and earth functioning?

What all this is leading to is a suggestion to explain why we are here.  Could it be that we are a link and a catalyst:  a link between the earth and the heavens, between physical and spiritual?  Can our human energy be the switch that connects the two like a light switch allows electricity to light the bulb?

If that’s the case the process of grounding in our spiritual practise is extremely important as is recognition of our spiritual essence that is in our physical body.  It may be humbling and it may be distasteful to our egos but it seems to me that our place in this world is clear and performs an important role in allowing something much, much bigger than us to function.  Maybe we’re not the centre of our own universe.

Jackie Notman is a copywriter, feng shui consultant and e-commerce retailer.  This article is from her blog ‘Life – and everything else’ where you’ll find an eclectic mix of articles and information.

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