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A light-hearted blog post. Ever felt stuck in old, repeating loops and thought forms, despite being a disciplined professional with good habits, spiritual practices and healthy routines that others would envy? Periodically, we all need a tune-up, a tweaking of our reference points. Those of us who practise ‘positive thinking’ don’t  always realise that whilst the conscious mind is busy ‘looking on the bright side’, the underlying dialogue can get stuck in a sort of low-level funk.

Whatever your industry or lifestyle –  you might be a musician, or artist, idealist, activist or dreamer, a self-help guru, entrepreneur, writer or inventor, I assume that you are an intelligent, questioning being, interested in and seeking maximum human potential? Yet, do you sometimes struggle with your own limitations and know you could function more freely and more intelligently? Our get-ahead culture focuses on speed, ambition, efficiency, task and goal orientated solutions, but what about all the more subtle parts of the self? How about some creative ways to have fun with your own perceptions and assumptions about the reality that you have constructed for yourself?

When your groove has become a rut…I give you my Top Ten Tips to get it back. Written from the perspective of an artist/ musician. They are mental, perceptual, philosophical. Play with them, don’t turn them into  a military drill!

1. Take a risk. When times are tough, we get conservative, we like to feel safe. Instead, take a leap! remember that first tour or festival, first time abroad speaking a new language or first impromptu radio appearance? Or a combination of all these experiences? Remember times when you’d had no sleep, no rehearsal, and everything was improvised? Remember the ‘flying by the seat of your pants’ quality and the magic, lucky feeling that you could not fail or lose? This is the ancient concept of ‘beginners luck’ or ‘beginners mind’ at work. Trust it. Do the thing that makes you afraid or uncomfortable. Without being self-destructive, be as curious as you can be each day with things that are unexpected, and that expand your horizons and experience. Like a snake, bite off more than you can chew. Confront your own blocks and your will find that you become the boss of your own comfort zone. Facing fear head-on, creates an incredible release of energy. It’s only when we face ‘death’ that we feel fully alive. Death as a metaphor can mean death of an illusion, the ego, self-image, or a comforting phase. It means change, movement – which is the only certainty we have.

2. Remember you’re an alien. ‘Make strange’ your surroundings by imagining you are seeing it all from the viewpoint of a visiting galactic tourist, from your favourite planet, whose denizens, customs and standards you respect and admire. The things about life that really, justifiably, piss you off: London traffic, the current government, the economy, crappy aspects of the media and celebrity culture, environmental destruction, corporate greed, the pain of your ancestors – you may start to find is just something you are encountering in your temporary stay. All part of the character of Planet Earth in her current phase of evolution. I’m not saying to forget the iniquities and injustices of our social systems – it all needs an overhaul, as anyone with a social conscience can see and feel. But letting it all go for a while gives you your sense of humour back, which will make you stronger in order to fight the good fight. It’s all temporary, you see. (Soon you will be reunited with your true kin from the Pleiades, Orion, Venus or wherever…)

3. Play games with chance, co-incidence and free-association. I don’t believe in handing over your power to external forces like fate or superstition. However, daily life is an oracle, if we practise the undervalued and all but lost skill of paying attentionObserve and notice patterns. They reveal that energy is in motion. Embrace chance conversations, and synchronicities. Try to spot and identify the tracks of animals. Watch the behaviour of insects and birds. Play guessing games, test out your clairvoyance. Extra sensory ability is, I believe, a muscle that can be developed like any other.

4. Create your own entertainment. Today, with laptops, iPads, iPhones, YouTube and Google, the availability of just about any kind of entertainment at the press of a button is a bitter-sweet luxury. It has the capacity to make us very intelligent and pro-active or very stupid and extremely passive. What could and would you do to amuse yourself if your internet went down, also the phone, also the TV? What thoughts could you have? What things might you learn? What physical abilities might you have to remember? In the relative boredom, what might you discover or create? We are so beset with rich visual stimulation that many of us neglect to explore our own visualisation skills. Try spending the evening silently gazing at a blank wall – you’ll be amazed at the images and altered states that you go through, quite naturally.

5. Practice Verbal and Mental Hygiene. You may feel pleased with yourself if you are able to practice the following – not speaking ill of others or of yourself, thus limiting the repercussions that our words can create if we indulge in gossip or complaints. But at any given point, the mental dialogue we carry around can be truly debilitating, simultaneously just off the radar, yet taking our best attention. It creeps up on us quietly and slowly…needless worries about the future, finance, past conversations, injustices, fantasies, advertising jingles etc. Stay in the present. Spit out that bone and feel the relief. Warning signs that the inner voices have become too turbulent are random instances of shattered crockery, bumps, accidents, getting jostled in the street or finding you’ve pulled off a nail or torn out your own hair.

6. Throw away the clock. Focus on the thing you have to do, not the time you have to do it. Things done slowly reveal themselves to fit just perfectly. They find their own time frame, taking no more or less than is needful. Observe your house and garden plants. Meditate upon cooking and eating – everything has its own rhythm. Why on earth is there any need to hurry? Is time a thing we can actually run out of?

7. Practise distance games. Pretend that your life is someone else’s and that you are reading the obituary. Chances are you would be impressed, right? That’s a pretty good life and record of achievement, you might reckon. So why are we so hard on ourselves? In dialogue with others, enjoy the sensation that the words are a radio or film script. Is this a movie you’d watch? Do the characters dilemmas interest and move you? If not, maybe you can change yourself or your social circle. Do the same with your daily actions, ambitions and issues. Would you waste 2 hours of your life watching this narrative at the cinema? Is your life truly epic and legendary in its scope? No? Then it’s time to change the script and raise the standard. Aim to be the heroine or hero of your own life – why not?

8. Embrace failure. What??? I hear you say. Yes, if you surrender to the extremes, an odd thing happens. Perspective happens. Ever lose everything and know with clarifying desire and heart wrenching grief, the value of what you lost, and just exactly what work you have to do to recover it? Ever step off your path and make a bad decision (which usually leads to another bad decision)? Curious how being off track can give you the absolutely best view of where you are not and where you need to aim for. While those on it sometimes can’t see it. When the only way is up, sobriety is ever-present. In any case, your ‘failure’ is entirely relative – paradise for someone less fortunate.

9. Connect with the elements. Yes, spend time in natural world…we have heard it before. How many times do we need to hear this, before we realise that our disconnection from the organic world is harming us and making us forget our own phenomenal nature? The elements call to us on a primal, archetypal level. If you live in mechanised city surroundings, it is even more crucial to do this and even easier to forget to do it. Therefore, do it. Feel the magic of lighting a bonfire and sitting with it all night. Feel the simple but definite excitement of a single candle lit in darkness. Experience the rush of a cold swim in rough sea or tranquil mountain water. Go out in high winds, thunder and lightning and yell your head off. Get your hands in the soil and plant some vegetables. Give your senses a treat. Smell is one of the most evocative and least understood of our senses. The scent of soil, seaweed, burning timber, rain and snow, decay, greenery, sun-kissed skin – all have a healing effect.

10. Very Big. Very Small. A mental game. Meditate upon the dimensions of things. Consider that they only exist in relation to other things. So, all is relativity and relationship. In your mind’s eye, zoom out from planet Earth. Then, zoom beyond. If you can, visualise our central sun, (one of billions in the universe) which is about 1,300,000 times the size of Earth. Then visualise the milky way and so on. Eventually you’ll come to a conceptual boundary, since the mind can only hold so much. Then what – what’s beyond the gate? Go there, see what you find. Eventually, there’ll be another gate. What’s beyond it? Do this for as long as you can. Float in the quiet peaceful darkness of space. When I see film of the inside of a human body, I’m struck by how much like space it looks. Maybe the furthest reaches of our infinitude are just a gap in the cell structure of a much larger organism that our instruments cannot measure. When you are ready, zoom back down – this time down into the earth, into the world of the insects – magnify and magnify their world, right down to their skin and wings and even what their mental space might look like. (They may be meditating upon the void, just like you.) Then zoom in further, beyond the Planck scale, down to the subatomic level, the very pixels of existence. Compared to this, atoms are giants, and the smallest insect is a universe.

There’s nothing like a bit of perspective. Life is miraculous, no?

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