Thursday, 23 October 2008

Providing Value To The World

How are you providing value to the world?

Like many people, your initial answer to this question will probably revolve around what you’re doing to provide value and to contribute towards the upliftment of the world… I write articles on spiritual development, I teach young children, I make environmentally-friendly products, I do voluntary charity work….

As Lightworkers, when we consider providing value to the world, we usually think in terms of doing things like the examples above. They all seem very clearly geared towards assisting others and bettering the world. The value of such activities seems obvious and direct.

What if the answer to the question is something like I meditate every day or I work as an administrative assistant?

Meditating could be seen as a selfish activity – on the face of it, it is not other-oriented. Working as an admin assistant could be seen as a job far removed from traditional Lightworker roles.

However, an argument could be made that meditating calms you down, and that interacting with others later in the day is always much better when you’re in a calm state than when you’re rushed, anxious and worried. Similarly, an argument could be made that dedicated and competent administrative assistants provide value to the companies for which they work by keeping them organised, efficient and effective.

Both of these arguments are true. Yet they only hint at the full extent to which these two activities can be utilised to provide profound value to the world. The key to this lies in your state of being while doing these activities.

This is easy to see when we look at an activity like meditation. Entering into an alpha state and allowing Source energy to flow freely not only has positive benefits for ourselves, but also for the world – this energy ripples out and affects others, even those with whom we don’t come into direct contact during the day. We may not see the immediate impact of our meditative activities beyond our own well-being and positive changes in our relationships with family and friends, but it is there. Research has demonstrated that crime rates and accidents decrease when even a small percentage of the population of an area meditates (the Maharishi Effect).

Okay, so it is easy to add value to the world by meditating. But what if you don’t have time to meditate because you have to get to work as an admin assistant every day? The same principles apply. Even though you may not be sitting in the lotus position chanting Om, you can still bring a meditative state to your work by practising mindfulness and presence. When you are being peace regardless of what activity you are doing, you can bring peace to the world.

I think we can get very caught up in only considering value from a superficial point of view, in the sense that, on the face of it, someone working in an anti-crime charity seems to be adding more value to the world than someone working as an administrative assistant, for example. When we look at things from an energy level, however, the picture may be very different – it is possible that the charity worker is vibrating with anger and fear, whereas the admin assistant may be vibrating with love and peace. The former will ironically be contributing to increasing the very ills that she is trying to work towards decreasing, whereas the latter will be far more effective at decreasing crime and promoting peace, even though that isn’t her official job description.

So… let me ask you again. How are you proving value to the world?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

World Gratitude Gathering

Kate Saltfleet’s latest post on her blog, Experiments In Living, is focused on the World Gratitude Gathering. Even though the gathering began on 1 October, it’s not too late to join. Thank you, Kate, for bringing this gathering to my attention!

The 9 Agreements for World Gratitude participants are:

1. I agree that a world of Love and Gratitude begins with me. I choose to be a conscious mirror and model of the change I wish to see in the world.

2. I agree to consciously set an intention for manifesting something miraculous in my life throughout this process.

3. I agree to tap into Gratitude on a daily basis and as much as possible in every waking moment. I know that the rewards of doing so flow through and extend beyond me, strengthening the collective field of Gratitude from which we may all derive benefit.

4. I agree to be a consistently uplifting inspiration in all my interactions in World Gratitude. I commit to see and mirror back the greatness of each soul who crosses my path. I choose to discover and nurture the light within so that it may shine forth to others and magnify their life.

5. I agree to honor each individual's right to choose their own belief system and life path.

6. I agree to be open to both give and receive within this community. In all my dealings, I seek win-win, mutually edifying interactions and transactions.

7. I agree to be my word in my exchanges with others. I realize that my personal influence is magnified to the degree I am able to keep my word with myself and others. If something comes up and I decide to change what I had agreed upon, then I agree to make that communication as soon as possible to the affected party.

8. I agree to love and enjoy my life as much as possible!

9. And, last but certainly not least, I agree to be Grateful for ME!

If these agreements resonate with you, click on the link below to join the gathering:

Monday, 6 October 2008

An Invitation To Connect With Me!

I love The Internet! It makes connecting with like-minded people so easy, and I’m very grateful for the many friends I’ve made so far via this blog. Some of us are already FaceBook friends, Twitter followers and followees, and fellow Stumblers, but I know that there are still many connections to be made.

If you’d like to connect with me and this blog, here are the different ways you can do so:

Woo-Woo Wisdom now has a blog network on FaceBook. If you have a FaceBook account and would like to join this blog’s FaceBook page, please click on the box in the right-hand column of this page or click here. Similarly, if you’d like to become a FaceBook friend, you can find me here.

Follow me at

Join me in Stumbling around cyberspace at

And lastly, remember that you can sign up to receive updates to this blog either via a reader (e.g. Google Reader) or by email. This is a secure (and free!) service provided by FeedBurner, in which the blog’s content will be delivered directly to your inbox or reader to ensure that you don’t miss out on any posts! To become a subscriber to Woo-Woo Wisdom, either enter your email address in the box at the top of the right-hand column of this page, or click on the orange icon below it to get updates via a reader.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Steve Pavlina: Personal Development For Smart People

Pavliniac (n): Person who is an avid reader of Steve Pavlina’s blog and participant in his forums.

Okay, I freely admit it… I’m a Pavliniac, and like many others, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of Steve’s book, Personal Development For Smart People, since he announced that he was writing one. Luckily for those of us who are impatient souls, a glitch somewhere along the line resulted in the book being released earlier than the intended date of 15 October. Dare I call this a collective manifestation caused by all Steve’s many fans?!

The reason why I’ve been a long-term reader of Steve’s blog is that I enjoy the blend of logic and intuition in his writing and thought processes. Often, personal development blogs sit at one of the extremes, and while I’m more than happy to read such blogs, I find that my blog reading list as a whole has to find a balance between the two. Steve’s blog, however, is one of the few that combine the best of both sides of the brain, and his newly released book follows suit.

This book presents the results of Steve’s search for the universal principles underlying personal development – Love, Truth and Power. These core principles are further expanded to Oneness (Truth + Love), Authority (Truth + Power), and Courage (Love + Power). Finally, Intelligence is defined as the combination of all three core principles.

This framework synthesises information in what is often a broad and fragmented field, and provides both philosophical and practical applications to a diverse range of life areas, such as career, relationships and health. Although Steve has given examples from his own life throughout the book as well as provided exercises through which readers can utilise the principles in their own development, this is not a prescriptive book. Rather, the book aims to increase readers’ awareness of the principles in their lives, so that where these are present they can be further developed, and where these appear to be absent they can be allowed to grow. It is, as the book’s tagline says, the conscious pursuit of personal growth.

In the introduction, Steve states that the principles should be simple and elegant. They are. In fact, at first glance, it may appear that some of the book’s content is in fact too simple. Yet, this is not a simplicity born of triteness and self-help cliché that is unfortunately all too common in the personal development arena. Instead, this is the kind of simplicity that emerges from dedicated and conscious exploration and experimentation in the area of personal growth. It is a simplicity that allows us to recognise the overarching structures of life that exist at a deeper level. It is what Oliver Wendell Holmes referred to as the simplicity on the other side of complexity.

Can things really be this simple? Yes. But, remember that simplicity doesn’t necessarily equal easy. As Steve points out, personal development can be very challenging at times. It is at such times that it helps to have a touchstone to return to and which can guide us through to the other side of the complexity. This book is that touchstone.

If you’d like to try before you buy, Steve has very kindly provided a sample chapter of his book for download. The formatting of this sample chapter is different to that in the book, but the content is the same.

The full book is available from Amazon:

Friday, 19 September 2008

Flow And Creativity

I write. A whole lot! From short stories when I was young to my diary full of pre-teen angst to non-fiction books and journal articles when I was a lecturer to blogging and novel writing now… it’s always been a large part of my life.

For many years, I thought that writing was how I got into a state of Flow. Whenever I managed to find time to write, the words would pour out of me, entire sentences and paragraphs already seemingly downloaded into my brain. My fingers would fly over the keyboard trying to keep up. And I had this lovely flowing sensation in my chest area, kind of a warm loving, joyous sensation.

Now, however, I understand that, for me, writing is less of a way to make Flow happen and more of an outcome of already being in a state of Flow.

When I am already experiencing Flow, then writing is effortless. In fact, it is so easy that my first draft is usually also my final draft (apart, sometimes, from a few minor tweaks). The entire structure of an article and the wording is already formed, and it seems that all I do is copy it down from the non-physical to the physical. When I’m not in a state of Flow, though, I may as well not even bother sitting down to write. Absolutely nothing happens – it’s writer’s block to the nth degree! Even if I do manage to squeeze a few words out, I always end up deleting them or drastically changing them in a complete rewrite when I am back in Flow.

To get back into a state of Flow, I focus on my breath. I’ve found that this is my personal access point to Flow. It doesn’t matter whether I’m focusing on breathing while doing a traditional sitting meditation, or a walking meditation, or even washing the dishes – all of these get me back to my breath and consequently help me to open up that inner space again, through which Source energy can flow. And, as Eckhart Tolle describes in A New Earth, “All creativity comes out of inner spaciousness.” It is a source of constant inspiration and guidance.

Many of you reading this blog are also writers… I’d love to hear about your creative process and how you get into a state of Flow. Do you write at set times each day or week, or do you write only when you feel inspired and in a state of Flow?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The Magnet Conundrum: Polarity And Flow

Have you ever tried to explain the Law Of Attraction to someone? The chances are that you’ve used the phrase like attracts like. In fact, the chances are that you’ve also used the idea of a magnet to explain that we attract things and experiences to us that are in alignment with our predominant energetic vibration.

If so, you’ve probably also encountered some questions in this regard. After all, on the face of it, when it comes to magnets, opposites attract – the north pole of one magnet is attracted to the south pole of another. I’ve often seen skeptics use this apparent contradiction to criticise the Law Of Attraction.

Yet, when we look more deeply into the concepts of polarity and flow, it is possible to reconcile these two conflicting ideas.

As you know, all physical matter is made of atoms, which consist of electrons orbiting around a nucleus. You may also remember from studying science at school that a moving electrical charge (or electric current) produces a magnetic field. Since an electron is a small moving electrical charge, it follows that each electron in an atom produces a small magnetic field.

Although each electron’s tiny magnetic field flows in a specific direction, these don’t all necessarily line up with each other. For most substances, the directions of these fields remain randomly oriented even when in the presence of a larger magnetic field, such as that produced by a permanent (bar) magnet. However, for some substances, such as iron, the presence of a larger magnetic field causes the substance’s electrons’ small magnetic fields to all line up in the same direction as that of the larger magnetic field.

The electrons in magnetic substances such as iron will retain their alignment temporarily after the permanent magnet is removed, until the usual movement of the atoms causes them to fall out of alignment again. Permanent magnets are made out of special iron alloys whose electrons retain their alignment for many years after initial exposure to a larger magnetic field.

When it comes to magnets and attraction therefore, it is not the two poles (north and south) that are important. Instead, it is the alignment of the electrons’ magnetic fields that is responsible for allowing a strong magnetic field to flow through the substance and which causes attraction between the substance and the magnet. The two poles of a magnet are essentially just handy naming conventions to describe the direction of flow of a magnetic field.

Ultimately, alignment equals flow equals attraction… sound familiar?!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Flow And Buying A House

In my last post on Flow And Intention-Manifestation, I mentioned that my husband and I had recently purchased a house. One of the commenters on that post, T Edwards, asked:

Congratulations on your new home. My question is: do you give credit for bringing it into your life to ‘The Law of Attraction’?

I gave a brief reply to the comment at the time, although I realised that there was much more that I could say on the subject, so much so that I thought I’d take this opportunity to devote a post to it!

I think I should start by saying that I use the term Law Of Attraction to describe principles of how the universe works on an energy level, mainly because it is a term that many people know these days and which can therefore be used as a reference point. For me, however, the principles behind what is popularly termed Law Of Attraction represent deep spiritual beliefs, many of which I was first introduced to as a young child and which I’ve come to understand more deeply over the years. I’m still learning! So, while my answer to T’s question in the comments is that I do give credit to the Law Of Attraction for bringing the house into my life, my use of these principles is a much more spiritual one than popular products like The Secret describe.

My husband and I started looking for a new house to buy in January this year. We had owned our own home in South Africa, but had decided to rent when we moved to Scotland until we had become more settled and familiar with the city of Edinburgh and its surrounding countryside, and had a good idea of which area we wanted to live in.

I had started thinking about our ideal house when we first made the decision to move to Scotland and I knew a house purchase would arise in the next year or so. I developed a picture in my head of what it would look like (based on both my and my husband’s intentions, which are thankfully exactly the same when it comes to houses and decoration thereof!), and even drew a floor plan and a 3D picture of what it looked like. This picture was continually refined, and by the time January came round, I could see our ideal house extremely clearly in my head. It had the same status in my mind as the house we owned in South Africa, in the sense that it was as real to me as a house that I had actually lived in. I knew our ideal house intimately!

When it came to the details of our ideal house, we had some non-negotiables as well as some nice-to-haves. We were also clear that the house had to reflect the Divine qualities of love, peace and joy. We were looking for a house that felt like home the second we stepped through the door. In terms of finances, we planned to use the money from the sale of our house in South Africa as a deposit towards buying a house in the UK. Houses in the UK are a tad more expensive than in South Africa – our many Rands gave us a great deposit amount to use here, but unfortunately not enough to purchase a house outright! Nevertheless, we were grateful that we had that money to contribute towards the process as it would keep our mortgage down and make us more attractive to lenders.

The first few months of the house-hunting process were frustrating. Each property we saw matched our requirements to a certain extent, but none included everything we wanted, even when we considered doing renovations. Those that were closer matches were outside our budget, but even those didn’t have the energetic qualities we were looking for.

About four months in, I became very despondent. I started to doubt that we would ever find our ideal house within our budget. I hated the idea that we would have to settle for something far less than we wanted. Even though this was a dark time for me, it was out of this period that I began to clarify my thinking around Flow. I spoke to my guides about it, and I started practicing it in all areas of my daily life. I changed my focus from details and specifics to making Flow my primary focus. I learned to trust that if Flow is present, all else falls into place.

At about this time, the UK started to experience a so-called “credit crisis”, and the news was full of doom and gloom – mortgages were difficult to obtain and house prices were falling. I took the latter quite positively, however – if house prices were falling, it meant we would be able to get more house for our budget! I also chose to ignore the news reports about mortgages, and instead maintain my focus on Flow.

Shortly after this, we walked into the house that we ultimately ended up buying. It felt like home. It matched our intentions perfectly on an energy level. At first glance, it only had some of the non-negotiables that we’d wanted, and none of the nice-to-haves. But, upon closer inspection, we realised that we could easily renovate the house to obtain all but one of the non-negotiables and all but one of the nice-to-haves! Honest reflection showed me that these two unobtainable characteristics were in fact ego-driven wants. I released these, and in the process I realised that these two things that I had thought so important actually weren’t so important after all!

Had there not been a credit crisis, this house would have been out of our budget range by at least £10 000. As it was, we were able to buy it for £30 000 under budget, leaving us with money to spare for all those renovations! Thanks also to some helpful family and friends who are involved in the building trade, we are likely to obtain some hefty discounts on things like kitchen units and bathroom suites.

The actual purchasing process was a beautiful example of Flow. Our dates for giving notice on our flat matched up perfectly with the sellers’ moving date. Through our solicitor, we were put in touch with a financial advisor who organised a mortgage for us at a very good rate. The mortgage application process itself was easy and hassle-free. Our solicitor was amazing – he was efficient and thorough and kept us updated at each step. We essentially sat back and watched the process unfold, doing our small bit (e.g. signing a form, making a telephone call, making a bank transfer – nothing too onerous!) as and when required. In a telephone conversation with the seller at one point, he mentioned to me that he was amazed at how smoothly and easily everything was progressing – I could only agree! With Source energy directing the process, how could it be any different?!

If you’d like to see some pictures of our new ‘hood, you’re welcome to browse through those on our other personal blog.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Flow And Intention-Manifestation

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts (Make up your mind!), I’m a Libra and a Scanner. Consequently, I’m not always clear on the specifics of what I want to do or what I want to have, since there are so many experiences and things that are equally attractive and meaningful to me. No one thing stands out.

Yet, despite this, I am absolutely unequivocally clear about what I want to be. I know exactly which energetic qualities I want to be present in my life.

Clarity is important when it comes to intention-manifestation. But, how specific do we need to be? If we want to manifest a new car, for example, do we need to imagine every detail, from the make and model to the colour and engine size? Or is it more effective to focus our attention instead on the energetic qualities that we associate with having a new car and to be that now?

These are questions that I’ve been putting to my guides. Their response: flow first, specifics later.

Allowing Flow brings us into alignment with energetic qualities such as love, joy, peace and abundance, As such, our physical world will start to change to reflect these. We do not have to direct exactly how we want these qualities expressed, although we can if we so choose.

If we do decide to create something very specific, aligning with the flow of Source energy first makes manifesting these particular features easier. It takes far less effort to channel energy into specific details when we are already in a state of Flow than it does when we are impeding the stream of Source energy.

In addition, the more aligned we are with Flow, the less likely it is that we are attached to any specific characteristics that we decide to include in our intentions and creations. When we find ourselves intending to manifest something very specific, it is a good idea to reflect on why we want those particular physical characteristics. This can entail being very honest with ourselves – do we want a BMW, for example, for ego-based reasons (usually fear-based, such as “people will think less of me if I don’t have an expensive car”), or simply because, to us, it is a fun expression of the energetic quality of freedom? It is when we are truly not attached to specifics that it is best to introduce them into the equation.

I had the opportunity in recent months to undertake some of this reflection for myself. My husband and I bought a house (the legal and administrative process is now complete, and we move in today in fact!). When we first walked through the front door of the house at the initial viewing, it felt like coming home. The house was a perfect energetic match for what we had intended. Yet, very few of the specific physical details that we had wanted were present. Upon reflection, I realised that some of the characteristics that I had wanted to manifest in my ideal house were very much the choices of my ego. It was an eye-opening process, but one from which I was able to bring some more limiting beliefs into my conscious awareness to work on releasing them. As for the other characteristics to which I had no ego attachment… well, it turned out on closer inspection of the house at the second viewing that we’d be able to make some fairly minor alterations to the property to bring it in line with what we wanted!

All in all, our house-hunting and house-buying were a wonderful example of flow in action. The timing of the purchase and move for both us and the sellers was spot-on in terms of our respective life circumstances and requirements, and the entire legal, financial and administrative process has proceeded very smoothly and effortlessly. I’m certainly intending for the flow to continue on moving day itself!

I’m also intending for the effects of flow to extend to BT (British Telecom) and our internet service provider connecting everything at the new property as arranged, so please leave your comments – I’ll be popping in to reply to them!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Row, Row, Row Your Boat… But Mind That Obstacle!

This is Part 2 of a series on Flow. If you haven’t yet read part 1, you can find it here.

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream.

The feeling of free-flowing Source energy is beautiful and blissful. The stream of Source energy may be powerful and deep, yet it is also gentle and supportive. Whether we choose to surf the flow, or row our boat down the energy stream, the experience is one of effortlessness and joy.

Or at least, it can be. Often, however, it seems that we’re determined to turn what can be an easy journey into an obstacle course! The following are some of the most common obstacles that we tend to create and which end up impeding flow.

Resistance is supposedly futile. Yet, even though we may know better, we often find ourselves resisting what is – we should be in a more enjoyable job, our parents should stop treating us like children, our children should be more polite, our financial situation should be better, the world should be a safer place….

The more we resist, the more drained we feel. Emotions like anger, worry and fear deplete energy. And so we start building barriers with the best of intentions – we want them to protect us by keeping what we don’t want out and by keeping our precious energy in.

The thing is, Source energy doesn’t stop moving. By its very nature, it flows. This means that it keeps building up behind the barrier, placing pressure on the structure. At some point, the barrier will break. If a barrier is small and weak to begin with, breaking it down will be fairly easy and the aftermath minor. However, for many of us, barriers are not so easily broken down. We’ve been building them for years, adding layers and layers to our defences until they are really thick and strong. When the structure finally breaks, it is often explosive and destructive as all the pent up energy is finally released – we have a nervous breakdown because of work stress, for example, or we lash out in anger at our parents or children, saying things and taking actions that we later regret.

When we build barriers, we place a great deal of our attention on the areas concerned. We’re constantly vigilant, maintaining our defences and always wary of attack. In contrast, there are sometimes areas of our lives from which we choose to totally withdraw our focus. These may be areas that we are uncomfortable looking at, or areas in which we’re unsure what the next step to take is. For example, we may be unsure how to change our work situation to one that we are passionate about. Maybe we’ve tried a few things that didn’t seem to work, and rather than give more creative energy to this area, we decide to give up. We go through the motions, but our energy investment is nil.

What we’ve done in this type of situation is create a diversion, channelling Source energy away from one area to instead focus it on others in which we feel we can make a difference. When Source energy isn’t allowed to flow into a particular area, however, the result is that we experience stagnation in that area.

Whereas it’s very clear that barriers and diversions are self-created, being hooked usually feels like it is caused by someone else – as you row down the Source energy stream, someone standing on the bank casts out their fishing line, hooks onto you, and reels you out of the flow and into their drama.

The irony is that we can’t be hooked unless we’re hook-able. Hooks are all about attachment – others can only hook us if we provide the attachments for them to hold on to. It may feel like they are the ones attached to us, but the reality is that we are the ones with the attachments to others’ dramas, and it is only us that can release these.

If you’d like to read more on hooks specifically, I’d suggest that you delve into the excellent series that Christine Kane did on the subject.

Heavy Baggage
Some of us just can’t pack light – we need ten suitcases for a weekend away and wonder how on earth others manage to fit everything they need into one little carry-on bag!

Energy-wise, we can also carry tremendous metaphorical baggage with us. All those old unresolved issues weigh us down, making our journeys in the stream of Source energy slow and sluggish. We think we need all this extra “stuff”, and we are so used to carrying it around with us that it has become part of our identity.

Undercurrents work below the surface of our lives. They are insidious and subtle, yet they affect every aspect of our lives and they can prevent us from fully experiencing flow. Undercurrents are the often unconscious scripts that underlie our behaviour and choices. Some common scripts include “I’m not worthy”, “I’m unlovable”, and “I’m insignificant”.

We have to look closely at our lives to identify the patterns that keep repeating themselves. In this way, we can identify the undercurrents and bring them to the surface. In the light, we can see that these scripts do not represent who we truly are, and we can change them to ones more aligned with the energy of flow.

Over to you… Have you ever come across these obstacles to flow? Are there any further obstacles you experience in your own life or that you’ve noticed in others?

Monday, 4 August 2008

Surfing The Flow

Don’t you just love it when life flows? I certainly do!

In psychological terms, the word flow is used to describe a state in which we are so fully immersed in an activity that we feel energised, focused and involved, and as a result experience a distorted sense of time and effortless of action. It is an ego-less state in which we are completely present. Flow is a concept integral to the field of Positive Psychology, and its main proponent is the man with the virtually unpronounceable name, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (those in the know say it is pronounced Mee-high Chick-sent-mee-high-ee, but apparently his friends just call him Mike!).

In spiritual terms, however, flow is quite literally Source energy flowing through us. It is possible to feel this energy flow tangibly. It is a strong and powerful energy stream that contains within it a deep sense of love, joy and peace. It is graceful, abundant and expansive. When Source energy is flowing freely, we experience the psychological state described above in relation to our daily activities.

There is an element of surrender involved in the process, in that flow can’t be forced. It can only be allowed. It is when we get out of our own way that we can be a conduit for Source energy to flow through us into the world. That said, once we’re in the energy stream, there is an interplay between letting it carry us forward and co-creating our journey along the way. We’re not so much going with the flow as we are surfing the flow!

I’m going to be exploring the concept of flow over the next few blog posts, looking at subjects like work, health, relationships and money from the perspective of flow. I’ll also be discussing the topic of how flow relates to manifesting intentions, and the different types of blockages that affect flow. I look forward to you joining me throughout this series, and as always, to hearing your thoughts as we delve into the subject!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

In The Beginning Was The Word. Or, What’s In A Name?

According to a small book published in 1929, our names carry vibrations which strongly affect the development of our personalities and the events that we experience during our lives.

Veolita Parke Boyle, the author of the book (Fundamental Principles Of Yi-King, Tao: The Cabbalas Of Egypt And The Hebrews) asserts that the universe operates according to energy vibrations, and that each form vibrates at a particular frequency. Letters are considered no exception to this, as each on its own and spoken together as a word forms a particular sound, which invokes a particular vibrational frequency.

Our names, always associated with us, ensure that their particular vibrations remain connected to us. These vibrations, in turn, attract life circumstances to us that resonate with the same frequency. The system outlined by Veolita Parke Boyle argues that it is possible to manifest different circumstances by changing one’s name, although she cautions that this does not imply that no effort will ever be required again. Instead, changing one’s name to a vibration more favourable to what one intends to manifest would eliminate unnecessary struggle and busywork, although inspired action would still be required.

This system is considered completely different from numerology. For example, first names and surnames are not reduced to a single digit, but are treated separately (although the effect of each on the whole is considered). Each name also has an undertone, which is worked out mathematically from the name’s primary tone, and which can modify the effect of the primary tone in either a positive or negative direction.

Laurence Y Payg (pronounced “page”) has been featured on TV a lot in the last week or so here in the UK, as the country’s only professional analyser of names using the method outlined by Veolita Parke Boyle. He is famous for changing Laura Hollins’ name to Agyness Deyn (pronounced “Agnes Dean”), whose subsequent success as a supermodel is attributed to the choice of a name more vibrationally aligned to success.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this… do you think our names have their own vibrations as the theory states? Or is it that changing our names leads us to think differently about ourselves, and those thoughts change our intentions and what we manifest into our lives?

Monday, 28 July 2008

Lynne McTaggart: The Intention Experiment

A couple of chapters into Lynne McTaggart’s book, The Intention Experiment, I was disappointed. Bored and disappointed. Two emotions I certainly didn’t expect to feel while reading a book on one of my favourite topics, the intersection of science and psi.

It took me a while to figure out why I was feeling like this. It wasn’t that the book didn’t contain information from scientific studies on esoteric subjects such as meditation and intentions and healing. It did, and those studies in themselves were interesting. The studies presented do make one think about the connections between all living things and the power of the mind to affect matter. I finally realised, however, that I was battling to connect with Lynne’s writing style. It reminded me of some students’ literature reviews that I used to evaluate when I was an academic as well as of some journal articles that I would be asked to review – competent, don’t get me wrong, very competent, but “disconnected”. By this, I mean, they would present many scientific facts and figures, lists of studies and results, but ultimately not really tie these together in any coherent way to give the literature review a sense of continuity and a central critical argument (possible, even when one is trying to fairly present both sides of a debate).

I persevered with The Intention Experiment, however, and it did get better. By the time the final two or three chapters came round, linkages between sections and a critical viewpoint were emerging.

The last section of the book presents some very practical guidelines related to setting and sending an intention. I found these very helpful and probably enjoyed this section, which applied the results of the scientific studies to very specific exercises, the most. The book is further linked to Lynne’s website, where you can join a community, discuss your own and others’ experiences as well as participate in ongoing group intention experiments.

My criticisms above notwithstanding, I am still very grateful to Lynne McTaggart (and all the scientists mentioned in her book) for their continued work to understand the nature of the universe and to make it accessible to everyone.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

How Negative Can Equal Positive

Sometimes, the best way to get positive is to get negative… negative air ions, that is!

A negative air ion is formed when an oxygen molecule gains an electron. Since electrons are negatively charged, the addition of one to a previously neutral molecule results in the molecule as a whole becoming negatively charged. The extra electron comes from another molecule that has been broken apart by means of energy acting upon it.

Since this energy is most often in the form of sunlight or moving air and water, it comes as no surprise that negative air ions are found in abundance in natural environments, which can contain about 4 000 negative air ions per cubic centimetre. In comparison, a typical city environment will contain less than 100 negative air ions per cubic centimetre as a result of the neutralising effects of various pollutants and synthetic materials as well as the presence of objects (such as computer monitors) that create positive air ions instead. Whereas positive air ions have a draining effect on us, negative air ions help to regulate our levels of serotonin and increase the flow of oxygen to our brains, resulting in us experiencing increased energy, greater alertness, decreased depression and relief of stress.

Various negative ion generators (or ionisers) are available in the marketplace to increase the concentration of negative air ions in your home or office. If you plan to invest in one of these, it is best to do some research prior to purchase, as not all such generators are effective. An alternative is to spend some time in your home’s own built-in negative ion generator… your shower! In nature, one of the best generators of negative air ions is a waterfall – the falling action causes electrons to break apart from the water molecules and attach themselves to oxygen molecules in the surrounding air. An indoor shower achieves the same effect, giving a whole new meaning to “washing away the stresses of the day”!

Monday, 21 July 2008

10 Things That Make Me Happy

Akemi from Yes To Me tagged me to write about 10 Things That Make Me Happy. What a great meme to spread gratitude for the many wonderful things in our lives! Without further ado, here are ten things that I love:

Connection To Source Energy
My life flows when I allow Source energy to flow through me. I’m continually profoundly grateful for the presence of Spirit in my life.

My “Roomies”
I share a home with my husband of six and a half years and a funny fluffy thing (aka our cat!). I love my husband deeply, and am always grateful for his support and encouragement of who I am and what I do. The funny fluffy thing keeps me company while I work, and in return allows me to cuddle and snuggle into her fur every now and then. If you’d like to read more about our lives, you’re welcome to pop into our other blog, The Chronicles Of MacNoodle.

Bubble Bath
Baths are good. Baths are even better with bubble bath!

Yum. That’s all I have to say.

Access To Information
I love books. I love libraries. I love the Internet. I love reading. And I love learning.

You either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. My Scottish heritage ensures that my heart soars every time I hear bagpipes. I don’t care what others may say, the bagpipes are definitely beautiful music to my ears!

Central Heating And Double Glazing
We used to live in South Africa, which is considered a hot country. And it is hot… in summer! In winter it gets pretty cold (down to zero degrees Celcius, sometimes a bit below). Despite this, there is no central heating and no double glazing, thereby ensuring that one wears ten layers of clothes while huddling around a heater or fire to keep warm. I’m therefore a big fan of the central heating and double glazing that we have here in Scotland. The irony is that I feel warmer during winter living in a so-called cold country than I ever did living in a so-called hot country!

The Colour Blue
Blue, in all its many shades, resonates with something deep inside my soul.

Digital Cameras
I’ve always enjoyed cameras and photography, but digital cameras have made this hobby so much more fun! I love being able to see the photo immediately after taking it. I carry a small Sony camera around with me at all times to snap anything that catches my eye.

I’ve always been fascinated by clouds. I can watch them for ages, forming and reforming, the interplay of light and shade….

I know the meme is limited to ten things that make me happy, but I’d like to add an honourable mention for the many people in the blogosphere who write such interesting and fun posts, who leave comments on my blog, and with whom I’ve interacted by email. I’ve never met any of you in person (though I intend to one day!), yet you’re all very special to me. Thank you all!

And lastly… to complete the meme, I hereby tag:
Lucy Lopez at Lucy’s Planet Happiness
Tom Volkar at Delightful Work
Mark Penta at Creative Journey Café

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Make Up Your Mind!

The issue of choice has followed me around my whole life. In terms of astrological signs, I’m a Libra. That means that I like balance and harmony. But that also means that I’m notoriously bad at making decisions, endlessly weighing up pros and cons and generally over-thinking things before coming to a considered conclusion. In addition, I’m what Barbara Sher calls a scanner and Margaret Lobenstine terms a renaissance soul. That means that I like variety. But that also means that I struggle to commit to any one thing, flitting between projects according to some schedule known only to my own whimsy.

So, as you can tell, for me, burdened as I am with the vagaries of planet alignment at the time of my birth and the genetic/environment mix that makes up my personality, the ability to make choices doesn’t really come naturally ;).

In one of my posts last week on quantum leaps and the importance of choices, I wrote:

“Triggering a change in our vibrational frequency from one level to another is achieved by means of making a firm decision regarding our intentions and desires. Until we commit to what we want, it remains only a possibility. It is our decision, focus and attention that ensure that it manifests into the physical.”

Similarly, in what must be one of the most quoted quotes in the personal/spiritual development field (and often wrongly attributed to Goethe!), William Hutchinson Murray stated:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”

Clearly, to live a life we love, the ability to make choices is important. Clearly, judging from what I wrote last week, I know this. But do I put this knowledge into practice? Not always (see above!).

What I do often do, is express preferences. Not the same thing as making a choice at all. Preferences are about potentiality and hope, specifically hope that the universe will oblige by somehow bringing us the things and experiences that we want. Choice is about clarity and certainty, specifically certainty that the universe will work with us to help us create the things and experiences that we want. The concept of choice is empowering. Hoping that the universe will bring us what we want is an expression of powerlessness.

I spent some time over the last few days reflecting on my intentions to see if I had really made a choice about them or whether I was still just expressing a preference. For example, is Love a preference or a choice? Is the energy of Divine Love something that I’m really committed to inviting into my life and expressing with every fibre of my being? Similarly, with other energetic qualities: peace, joy, abundance… these are energetic qualities everyone wants in their lives, right? But is it just a preference, something we daydream about inbetween bouts of fear, anxiety, sadness and scarcity thinking? Or have we really made a choice to align with these energy streams?

Why would we not make a choice regarding what we want? Well, I for one can blame the factors in my opening paragraph :). In addition, for me, I know that I sometimes feel tentative, scared to make the “wrong” decision. However, what I’m learning is that the act of choosing is far more important than what we choose. It is the ultimate act of creativity. If we don’t like what we create, we can choose again and we can choose differently. In Conversations With God, God tells Neale Donald Walsch:

“If there is some aspect of creation you find you do not enjoy, bless it and simply change it. Choose again. Call forth a new reality. Think a new thought. Say a new word. Do a new thing. Do this magnificently and the rest of the world will follow you.”

Just because we make up our minds doesn’t mean that we’re not allowed to ever change them!

Over to you… are you making choices in your life, or expressing preferences? What other reasons can you add to why we may struggle to make choices?

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Wayne Dyer: Your Erroneous Zones

I’d heard Your Erroneous Zones, one of Wayne Dyer’s earliest books (published in 1976), mentioned many times. Yet despite this, despite the fact that it is a book that has sold over 30 million copies and is considered one of the best-selling books of all time, and despite loving other newer books of Wayne’s, I only very recently picked up a copy of Your Erroneous Zones to read.

I like to read authors’ books in the order in which they were written, if I can (not always possible, especially with someone like Wayne, who is a prolific writer!). I do this where possible though as I like seeing the development of an author’s thoughts around a topic. In this case, however, it was interesting to go back, especially so far back (pretty much to the beginning of Wayne’s writing career!). While Wayne’s later books are much more focused on spirituality, Your Erroneous Zones is much more of a standard personal development book. It is also written in a more formal tone that dates it to the 1970s ;). Neither of these detracts from the power of the book – it is clear and inspiring in its message to stop worrying, stop feeling guilty and replace these “erroneous zones” with a more empowered way of living.

The book covers a range of topics, diverse yet connected in that growth in one area has a spill-over effect into other areas. Topics addressed include self-acceptance, approval seeking behaviour, guilt, worry, procrastination, anger, and becoming independent. Sprinkled throughout the book are also exhortations to live in the present moment, predating Eckhart Tolle’s work on the topic, although not giving as much information on this specifically. Each chapter discusses one of the “erroneous zones” in detail, giving examples of how each zone manifests itself in daily life to make it easy to recognise when you are displaying ineffective behaviour, as well as providing strategies for overcoming and eliminating the ineffective behaviour and replacing it with a much more effective way of being and doing. Because of the interconnectedness of all the topics discussed, there is a fair amount of repetition of strategies for eliminating the erroneous zones, only slightly different for each behaviour. Rather than this being annoying, I found it quite comforting to know that the strategies could be distilled into a few basic principles, although I would have liked to see the book itself pull this together (I guess I have to do some work though, right?!).

The final chapter of Your Erroneous Zones is a portrait of a person who has eliminated all erroneous zones and is living an emotionally, mentally and spiritually healthy life. It was interesting to read through this chapter to see how I’m doing compared to Wayne’s ideal. Luckily, for myself, I found that I displayed many effective behaviours already! I was also able to identify those that I’m still personally working with – rather than beating oneself up over not meeting the ideal, this is an excellent opportunity to see what effective behaviour would look like, and hence to identify areas of further growth.

Would I recommend that you read this book, given that it was written over 30 years ago? Yes, I would. It is a classic in the personal development genre, and it still feels relevant today. If you’re looking for a fairly no-nonsense approach to development, then this book is for you!

Monday, 7 July 2008

Quantum Leaping: How Long Does It Take For Change To Occur?

Teachings on the Law Of attraction focus a great deal on the issue of vibrational frequency, specifically on how to become a vibrational match for those things or experiences that you want to attract into your life. Changing our vibrational frequency feels like a process that takes time – after all, we spend time in meditation or visualisation, and we have limiting beliefs that we need to work through. Would it therefore surprise you if I said that changing our energy state from one frequency to another actually takes no time at all?

The types of activities that we associate with changing our energy state (e.g. visualisation) are an important part of the process. However, while they are preparatory activities that contribute to and lead up to the point of a change in vibrational frequency, they do not represent the change in energy state itself. This change occurs instantaneously. We can feel when the shift has happened – a sense of certainty exists that wasn’t there before. Potentiality has been converted to actuality.

What occurs when our vibrational frequency changes is akin to a quantum leap (also referred to as a quantum jump). An atom consists of negatively charged electrons orbiting around a positively charged nucleus, in much the same way that planets orbit the sun. Each orbit is fixed, and electrons can only travel on these specified pathways. When an electron jumps from one orbit to another, changing its energy state as it does so, this is referred to as a quantum leap, so called because the electron either gains or loses a quantum of electromagnetic energy (i.e. a fixed amount of energy known as a ‘photon’) in the form of light when it jumps. This change in energy is instantaneous and discontinuous – the electron jumps from energy level A to energy level B without passing any of the energy levels in between. It is a change that takes no time at all.

It takes observation of the atom to initiate a quantum leap, transforming the electron from a fuzzy state of potentialities into a particular point in time and space. As such, triggering a change in our vibrational frequency from one level to another is achieved by means of making a firm decision regarding our intentions and desires. Until we commit to what we want, it remains only a possibility. It is our decision, focus and attention that ensure that it manifests into the physical.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

And The Award Goes To…

I’m very grateful to Louise from Island Wench for honouring me with a Sweet Home Blog Award for sharing beauty, love and joy with the blogosphere.

In the spirit of the award, here are five sites that I’d like to present with the award to thank the authors for the inspiration, warmth and wisdom that they share with their readers:

Andrea Hess at Empowered Soul writes beautiful, loving and practical articles about intuition, our higher self and connecting with spirit. Andrea’s humanity and spirit shine through in her work and in her willingness to engage with readers.

Slade Roberson at Shift Your Spirits shares a wealth of information related to communicating with spirit guides and developing your intuition. Slade’s articles are insightful and thought-provoking to read.

Christine Kane is a singer-songwriter who also blogs about creativity and conscious and courageous living. I found Christine’s blog before I had heard her wonderful music, but now I’m a fan of both!

Mark Penta is the proprietor of Creative Journey Café, a virtual space in which we all get to gather and enjoy creative inspiration and to chat about our spiritual journeys over a cup of coffee. Mark describes the Café as “laid-back, positive, friendly, cozy, even magical. It’s a place you can visit 24/7, and you’ll always find a comfortable seat.” – I agree!

Marlina blogs about growth, happiness and inspiration at Growing Happiness. In addition to the eclectic and interesting posts, Marlina’s site is also illustrated with gorgeous doodles!

Monday, 30 June 2008

Life And Death

Reading Gordon Smith's book, Through My Eyes, recently made me reflect on life and death...

Is life the opposite of death? The way we talk about the two definitely makes it sound as though it is, but I would disagree. The opposite of death is birth.

Just as birth is not a state, neither is death. Life is continuous and birth and death are simply two events that mark a change from one state of life to another: non-physical to physical in the case of birth and vice versa for death.

I’ve had the privilege to be present as two people I love, my grandfather and uncle, passed into the spiritual world. That may sound like a strange thing to say about something that is usually perceived as a very sad occasion. And it was sad. But at the same time, it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced. There’s a line in one of Dave Matthews’ songs (Loving Wings) that talks about how the “angels have all gathered round”, and this to me perfectly describes the atmosphere in the hospital rooms as transition from the physical world to the non-physical was taking place. Our family was not alone at either of these times and neither was the person making the transition. The love surrounding all of us was tangible and beautiful beyond words. Far from life being absent at a time of death, it was more present than ever.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Gordon Smith: Through My Eyes

Gordon Smith is a barber in Glasgow, Scotland. But he’s no ordinary barber, juggling this job with his other work as “Britain’s most accurate medium”, a description derived from his ability to provide specific names and exact dates rather than the vague impressions often conveyed by mediums.

I’ve only seen Gordon in action once before, on a South African television programme, a talk show called Noeleen after the host. At the start of the programme, I was looking forward to seeing Gordon’s accuracy in action. By the end of the programme, I was disappointed. The people who phoned in to the show seemed fairly happy with the information that they received, but I was left feeling unsatisfied with the quick rushed feeling to the readings and the lack of depth. It was therefore incredibly interesting for me to read Gordon’s own account of the show in Though My Eyes, in which he talks candidly about his reluctance to do what he calls “McMessages” and how he abandoned his principles in this regard when asked to provide readings on Noeleen’s show.

Gordon’s regret over succumbing to McMessages in South Africa and his commitment to providing proper in-depth readings for those who have lost a loved one, is far more reflective of his spirit and the energy that surrounds his writing. Overall, Gordon comes across as loving and very down-to-earth, and the overall feeling that I experienced while reading Through My Eyes was one of comfort. In this book, Gordon not only describes what he experiences when communicating with spirits, but also covers the most common concerns that people have about what happens to their loved ones after physical death and about how to continue to live after bereavement. For example, Gordon discusses subjects such as the resolution of “unfinished business” in one’s relationship with the deceased, how spirits communicate with their loved ones to let them know that they are okay, and why messages from spirits are sometimes delayed until the time is right for them to be expressed.

Throughout the book, Gordon’s message is inspirational and healing, allowing people to progress through the process of grieving in a healthy manner instead of torturing themselves with feelings of guilt and anger. Each chapter contains many examples from Gordon’s experiences as a medium, fascinating in themselves, but also used to good effect to illustrate the information about death, dying and living contained in this book.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Seeing Things? Part 5 – Reflections And Conclusions

It is possibly because of how psychic abilities are portrayed in movies and television programmes that people develop expectations of being able to see energy or spiritual entities via their physical eyesight, and give their visual experiences prominence over many other ways of interacting with the spiritual world. As a result, confusion can develop over what constitutes a proper “psychic vision”, and many common physical visual conditions can be misinterpreted as having a paranormal foundation.

Throughout this series of posts exploring the main examples of commonly misinterpreted conditions, I’ve been reflecting on the implications of unquestioningly accepting paranormal explanations for visual experiences (beyond the obvious consequences, such as those from ignoring potentially serious physical ailments like a detached retina). I’ve come to the following conclusions:

When we are focused on seeing the spiritual world via our physical eyes, we can shut down our “spiritual sight” rather than opening it. Although psychics in movies are shown seeing spiritual entities external to themselves, it is far more common for people with psychic abilities to see energy and entities via their mind’s eye, which is developed and strengthened by nurturing an internal connection to Source energy.

This connection and the flow of Source energy is blocked when we keep ourselves “trapped” in the physical by looking for external evidence of the spiritual. It is especially difficult to maintain this connection when we become desperate to see signs of the spiritual in the physical world and begin labelling every anomalous visual experience we have as paranormal.

When we stop practicing discernment in spiritual matters we do ourselves a disservice. We can be distracted by “false” paranormal occurrences at the expense of seeing what is really there. Do we really want to be so focused on the face we see in the tree bark that we miss the angel standing behind us? When we allow ourselves to open up to a real and profound spiritual connection, it becomes clear that the types of visual experiences discussed in this series of blog posts are exceptionally poor imitations of the real thing.

Not practicing discernment also has wider implications than those that affect us personally. Not only do we lose our own ability to identify real paranormal occurrences, but, like the boy who cried wolf, we also damage others’ belief and trust in us and in the paranormal itself.

Do you have any further thoughts on the implications of non-discernment in spiritual matters? I’d love to hear them – please leave a comment below!

This is Part 5 of 5 in a series exploring common visual experiences often mistaken for paranormal occurrences. The other posts in the series are as follows:
* Part 1 - Floaters
* Part 2 - Flashes Of Light
* Part 3 - Pareidolia
* Part 4 - Retinal Fatigue & Afterimages

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Seeing Things? Part 4 – Retinal Fatigue & Afterimages

Stare at the white dot in the centre of the following image for 30 seconds, and then look at a blank white wall or piece of white paper. What do you see?

Well, it’s kind of obvious that it’s the American Flag, right? That much is clear from the image above! The illusion in this case, however, is that when you transfer your gaze to a blank white wall afterwards, the red, white and blue of the flag appear correctly. This optical effect is known as an afterimage and it is caused by retinal fatigue.

Our retinas contain two types of photoreceptor cells that convert light coming into our eyes into signals that are sent to and interpreted by our brain – rods are sensitive to light and dark, and cones are sensitive to red, green and blue light. Together, red, green and blue light make white light, and other colours are a combination of different mixtures of these three primary colours, as seen in the image below.

When we stare at an image for at least 30 seconds, the cones that are maximally sensitive to the colour of that image become tired and stop transmitting signals to the brain. For example, fixating on a blue spot will cause cones sensitive to blue light to experience fatigue. When we then transfer our gaze to a white wall, even though all three primary light colours are entering our eyes, no blue is transmitted to our brain. Our brain therefore only receives red and green light, which it will interpret as yellow (red and green combined). It is for this reason that afterimages always appear to be the opposite or complementary light colour to the original image. As the cones recover, the afterimage will fade.

Although our eyes are fixated on a particular point when doing exercises such as this, it doesn’t mean that our eyes are completely steady. They do move slightly and this can also cause us to start seeing an object’s complementary colour around the edges of the object, particularly if we have been staring at an object placed against a plain background. This phenomenon can occur just as easily when the “object” in question is a person, in that the colour of a person’s hair, skin and clothes can all contribute to retinal fatigue of the corresponding cones if stared at for a long period of time.

While I in no way doubt the existence of an energy field (or aura) surrounding people, it is for the abovementioned reason that I am sometimes doubtful of various claims to have seen auras, especially if the reported aura appears to be complementary in colour to the person’s clothes. I am also doubtful of the method often cited to teach people to see auras, which involves staring at a person (or yourself in a mirror) sitting against a plain white background for an extended period of time, as these are prime conditions required to induce retinal fatigue and create an afterimage.

[Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons]

This is Part 4 of 5 in a series exploring common visual experiences often mistaken for paranormal occurrences. The other posts in the series are as follows:
* Part 1 - Floaters
* Part 2 - Flashes Of Light
* Part 3 - Pareidolia
* Part 5 - Reflections & Conclusions

Monday, 16 June 2008

Seeing Things? Part 3 – Pareidolia

Have you ever seen faces in the clouds? Or in knotted and gnarled tree trunks? How about the “man in the moon”? Or the Virgin Mary’s face in a grilled cheese sandwich?!

These are all common examples of Pareidolia, a psychological phenomenon in which a random stimulus is interpreted by the brain as something specific and recognisable. Pareidolia can be visual, such as seeing patterns of light and shade as a face, or it can be auditory, such as hearing words spoken inamongst static or white noise.

Pareidolia is a natural outcome of the fact that our brains are designed to process a great deal of information in our physical environment. In order for us to survive, our brains have to be able to recognise important patterns inamongst the noise. For example, Carl Sagan hypothesised that survival was dependent on being able to recognise the human face from a distance and in poor visibility using only minimal visual cues.

Although there are about twelve visual cues that have been identified as important for a random pattern to be identified as a face (such as eyes darker than forehead and mouth darker than cheeks), our brains don’t actually process each of these cues individually in order to conclude that it is seeing a face. Instead, our brains process faces holistically, seeing the whole image at once and immediately identifying it as an individual. Research into exactly how the brain does this and which parts of the brain are involved is still ongoing. The identification of the visual cues involved in this processing has been invaluable, however, in allowing facial recognition software to be developed and put to use in areas as diverse as identifying terrorist suspects amidst crowds at an airport to being able to focus correctly on faces using your point-and-shoot digital camera.

Does the existence of pareidolia rule out any paranormal explanation for seeing faces in nature or hearing voices in static? Is it still possible that these are evidence of nature spirits or spirit communication? My own feeling is that many experiences such as these are simply visual or auditory illusions. However, I do also feel that some such experiences are very real indications of paranormal activity. Rather than leaping to conclusions either way when something like this is experienced, I would urge you to keep an open mind (both ways!) and use sensitivity and considered judgement when coming to a decision about what you are seeing or hearing.

This is Part 3 of 5 in a series exploring common visual experiences often mistaken for paranormal occurrences. The other posts in the series are as follows:
* Part 1 - Floaters
* Part 2 - Flashes Of Light
* Part 4 - Retinal Fatigue & Afterimages

* Part 5 - Reflections & Conclusions

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Seeing Things? Part 2 – Flashes Of Light

In my previous blog post, I looked at the topic of floaters, a common eye condition which is sometimes misinterpreted by people as evidence for paranormal activity, such as the presence of a spirit or ability to see energy. In this post, I’ll be looking at a related eye condition experienced by many people, namely small flashes of light seen out the corner of the eye.

Seeing small flashes of twinkling light in one’s visual field is often discussed in spiritual circles as evidence of angelic presence with the person seeing them. This blog post is not meant to debunk this belief in any way – I fully believe in angels myself and have felt their presence on many an occasion. However, I do think that it’s important to practice discernment when it comes to spiritual and paranormal matters. In other words, seeing small flashes of light may very well signify angelic presence, but it may also be a sign of a serious physical eye problem that requires immediate medical attention. Rather than making the automatic assumption that the experience has a paranormal cause, it is best to have one’s eyes checked first to rule out any health issues.

Light flashes can occur when the vitreous gel in our eyes detaches from the retina at the back of the eye. As mentioned in the last post on floaters, this detachment is a normal and natural occurrence, which usually occurs fairly smoothly. However, on occasion, the vitreous will sometimes pull on the retina as it detaches instead of coming away cleanly. When this happens, the photoreceptors on the light-sensitive retina are stimulated and are experienced by us as small flashes of light, often described as sparkles, lightning, fireflies, fireworks, or sparks. Although there may be nothing to worry about, the possibility does exist that the retina could become torn or detached as the vitreous pulls away from it. As a result, if you see flashes of light, it is recommended that you visit an eye care professional to determine whether or not you are at risk of damage to your retina.

This is Part 2 of 5 in a series exploring common visual experiences often mistaken for paranormal occurrences. The other posts in the series are as follows:
* Part 1 - Floaters
* Part 3 - Pareidolia
* Part 4 - Retinal Fatigue & Afterimages

* Part 5 - Reflections & Conclusions

Monday, 9 June 2008

Seeing Things? Part 1 - Floaters

Do you sometimes see grey or semi-transparent dark-edged specks, strands or squiggly lines in your field of vision, particularly if you are looking up at the clear sky or at a blank wall? As I’m writing this, I’m aware of seeing a couple against the white of my MS Word page –one is circular in shape, transparent with a dark nucleus and dark ring around its edge, while the other looks like a tiny grey worm! They are similar in appearance to the ones in the picture below.

People who experience these usually have one of two reactions: either they fear that there is something drastically wrong with their eyes or vision, or if they are interested in the paranormal, they often get excited that they are seeing energy or evidence of a spirit’s presence. The truth is much more prosaic than either of these, however.

These specks, strands or cobwebs are called floaters, otherwise known in technical medical terms as muscae volitantes, and they are a very common eye condition, particularly amongst middle-aged or nearsighted people. They develop when the vitreous gel, the clear jelly-like substance that fills the back two-thirds of our eye, undergoes very natural changes as we age – small pockets of liquid form within the vitreous, the strands of collagen within the vitreous become thicker and denser, and the vitreous shrinks and detaches from the back of the eye. The shapes that we see are actually the shadows cast by these liquid pockets or collagen strands floating in the vitreous as light travels through the vitreous to the retina. Because the floaters are in our eyes, they move with our eyes, either drifting across our vision or darting away as we try to focus on them directly.

Although the changes mentioned above may sound worrying, there is usually no cause for concern and they generally don’t affect vision beyond being mildly annoying. Our brains can adapt to the floaters’ presence and will learn to ignore them for the most part. Floaters also tend to decrease in size or darkness over time, or “settle” at the bottom of our eyes below our line of sight. However, if you experience a sudden increase in the number of floaters that you can see, or if your floaters change significantly, it is recommended that you visit an eye care professional, such as an optometrist or opthalmologist, so that they can check the health of your retina.

[Image credit: Acdx on Wikimedia Commons]

This is Part 1 of 5 in a series exploring common visual experiences often mistaken for paranormal occurrences. The other posts in the series are as follows:
* Part 2 - Flashes Of Light
* Part 3 - Pareidolia
* Part 4 - Retinal Fatigue & Afterimages

* Part 5 - Reflections & Conclusions

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth

A New Earth is Eckhart Tolle’s second book on the power of living in the present moment. Like The Power Of Now, his first book, A New Earth is special to read. Words are powerful carriers of energy, and both of Eckhart’s books emanate the love, peace and joy that he obviously experienced while writing these from a place of presence and high level of consciousness.

The book takes its title from a Biblical prophecy that refers to the emergence of a new heaven and a new earth, the deeper meaning of which relates to the transformation of human consciousness and the reflection of this higher level of awareness in the physical world. Although the title has its basis in a Christian teaching, A New Earth is a spiritual book and as such can be read by people of any religion or people of no specific religion. In fact, it is interesting to note that the feedback received from the webcasts done recently by Oprah and Eckhart Tolle has indicated that many people have found that reading the book enabled them to understand the teachings of their religions in far greater depth and to apply them with far greater insight than they had previously had.

While The Power Of Now was written in question and answer format, A New Earth reads more like a traditional book, and it is therefore often the preferred introduction to the topic for many people. It was certainly Oprah’s choice for the webcasts that she and Eckhart conducted! Having read both books, I would probably recommend starting with The Power Of Now; however, this really is a personal choice and either will do as a starting point. The important thing is to read at least one of these books, and to reflect on and practice the teachings contained within them. Increasing your awareness and living in the present moment can be a challenging process, particularly when you start, but the rewards are immense. If you haven’t yet read my earlier review of The Power Of Now, you can find it and read about these rewards here.

In addition to going in-depth on subjects such as the ego and the pain-body, A New Earth addresses the topic of conscious creating, particularly in Chapter 10. Although Eckhart never refers to this as The Law Of Attraction, the principles that he discusses provide a spiritual view on the process of creation. If you’ve ever felt disillusioned by the very materialistic view of The Law Of Attraction, then Eckhart’s description of how consciousness creates may be just the antidote that you need!

Monday, 2 June 2008

Developing A Relationship With Your Spirit Guides (Part 2)

This is the second part of a two-part series of consciously communicating with your spirit guides. If you haven’t yet read Part 1, you can find it here.

Will I be able to see my guides? What do they look like?
Some people may be able to see their guides with their physical eyes, but most people usually only see their guides in their “mind’s eye”. It is similar to the visual that you see in your head when you think about a friend who is currently not physically present. I can picture my guides’ faces and clothes, although this is more a representation that they and I seem to have decided upon rather than what they “really” look like. While what I am seeing in my mind’s eye may be how my guides appeared when they were in physical form, this is less important than their identifying energy signature.

Each guide “feels” different on an energy level, and so I can tell who I’m communicating with by means of this energy signature. To me this energy is tangible in that I can sense my guides standing next to or behind me. Far from being scary, their presence is loving and supportive. Probably the best way of explaining what this sensation is like is to ask you if you are able to “feel” when someone is standing next to you (in the physical world)? Even if you had your eyes closed and the person moved quietly into your physical space, you would probably be aware that they were there by picking up on their energy field, or through even subtle changes in the air around you.

Do my guides have names?
Guides don’t have names in the way that we use names here on earth. As with the answer to the question above, what is most important is their energy signature. That said, in order to facilitate their communication with us, our guides will either give us a name that we can use to identify them, or allow us to pick a name that we feel comfortable using for them. Either way, guides’ names end up ranging from the exotic to the ordinary. Your guide is no less of a guide if his name is Joe Schmoe rather than something that sounds like it comes from ancient Lemuria. Since they don’t have any ego attachments to their names, guides really don’t mind what you call them. Their only concern is that it helps you to connect to them.

I thought I’d connected with my guide, but he turned out to have a really wacky sense of humour… aren’t guides supposed to be all serious?
Guides take their roles and responsibilities seriously, but they are by no means dour automatons! They have individual “personalities” and are often humorous, especially when it helps you to get the message that they are conveying. In your guide team, you will probably find a mixture of characters – some may be goofy, others gentle, some more on the solemn side, others lively and cheerful. What permeates all their characters, however, is a deep and profound sense of love and support for you.

My guide seems to like to insult me… I didn’t think guides were supposed to be mean?
They’re not. As I’ve just mentioned in the previous question, guides are loving spiritual beings. They are not mean, they do not convey their messages via insults and they do not belittle or criticise you. If your conversations with your guide are negative in tone, it is possible that you are not talking to your guide at all. Either your own egoic voice (the critic in our heads) is strong and drowning out your guides, or you may be chatting to a lower level entity posing as your guide.

If you are concerned that it may be the latter, check the authenticity of your “guide” by asking them if they are aligned with Divine Love and are working for your highest good. A real spirit guide will not mind the question at all and will answer unhesitatingly in the affirmative. If the entity answers no, hesitates, or does a better job of evading the question than a politician put on the spot, then you have encountered a lower level being. Simply tell them firmly to go away and not to return – your energetic space is just as much yours as is your physical space and you are entitled to do this. They have to obey!

Please don’t be unduly worried about attracting a lower level or negative entity. Most of us are positive enough that our vibrations don’t attract such beings. If you are feeling in a negative emotional state, however, consider using some protective techniques, such as surrounding yourself with white light, before opening up the lines of communication with your guides.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Developing A Relationship With Your Spirit Guides (Part 1)

On my visits to various online forums, I regularly come across questions related to developing a relationship with one’s spirit guides. This article is geared towards those of you who are wanting to start communicating consciously with your guides, by looking at some of the common questions that arise along the way.

When I started writing this article, it flowed… to the tune of over three single-spaced pages in MS Word! And I don’t think I’m quite finished yet! As a result, I’ve decided to split the article into two more manageable chunks (the next one will be published on Monday). After reading these, please let me know if you have any further questions that you’d like me to cover.

Do I have a spirit guide?
Yes, you do. Everyone does. In fact, far from only having one guide, you have a team of spiritual helpers who guide and support you. Some of these guides have been with you since birth, and their role is to provide guidance to help you follow your highest path and purpose. Others join the team on a temporary basis to assist with particular life circumstances and projects as they occur.

How do I initiate contact with my guides?
Communicating with your guides is similar in some respects to communicating with people in the physical world, in that you can talk to them or write to them. I would recommend starting with the form of communication (verbal or written) that you find easiest in the physical world. For me, this is writing, specifically on the computer – my fingers are able to keep up with my brain far better than my mouth can, and so information flows better for me this way! As a result, I started communicating with my guides by journalling, typing my questions into an MS Word document and writing down whatever popped into my brain as the answer. My first tentative opening line was “Hello? Are you there?” :).

Once I had developed a relationship with my guides, I started working on communicating with them when I was away from my computer. For me, it’s a very similar communication process, in that I ask a question and receive an answer in my head. The only difference is that rather than writing down the questions and responses, I am having a verbal conversation with my guides. At this point, you may be picturing me walking down the street looking mad as I have a seemingly one-way conversation with myself :). In reality, if you walked past me on the street or sat next to me on the bus, you probably wouldn’t even realise that I was deep in conversation with my guides! I “talk” to my guides in my head, much in the same way that I think other thoughts. When I’m alone at home, though, I have been known to talk out loud (at least for my part of the conversation!)… my cat thinks it’s funny, but then she seems to like my guides – she starts purring while staring at the spot where I can feel my guides’ energy to be!

Although verbal communication has the advantage of being able to occur wherever and whenever, it may be worth your while to keep a written record of as many of your conversations with your guides as possible. This is an invaluable resource that you can look back on when you need to remind yourself of what you’ve discussed.

If my verbal or written conversations with my guides sound like my own thoughts, how do I know that I’m not just making it all up?
When you start communicating with your guides and all you can hear in your head is your own voice, it is very easy to doubt that you have actually gotten in touch with a more evolved spiritual being! And I’m probably not going to help when I tell you that you are actually imagining it all! What you need to understand is that your mind acts as a bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds – as a result, your guides use your mental faculties (your thoughts, your imagination) as a way to communicate with you. When you start tuning in to your guides using this same mental faculty, it feels exactly like what you’ve always been doing when you’ve used your imagination for other things like visualising or daydreaming or creating – there are no sudden big booming voices from the sky! Remember also that some of your guides have been with you since birth and you are therefore so familiar with their communication that you have probably assumed that their contributions to your thought processes are your own (don’t worry, they don’t mind that you’ve “stolen” some of their ideas along the way!).

As you progress with developing a relationship with your guides, you will be able to discern their “voices” from yours. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will start hearing voices! I still just hear “my” voice in my head, but, just like people in the physical world have different speech patterns and cadences, my own thoughts differ from my guides.

What language do guides speak?
Well, mine “speak” English because I’m English! Yours will “speak” whatever language you speak.

The “language” of the universe is one of intent or state, rather than a language in the sense that we know it here on earth. Essentially, therefore, what your brain is doing when you communicate with your guides is translating their spiritual language into an earthly one. There is no need for you to worry about the actual “translation” process as this is all handled for you – it will appear to you as if you and your guides are having a conversation in the same language. In fact, the translation process happens so seamlessly and smoothly that communication from guides is usually very flowing and easy to read or listen to, with excellent grammar and vocabulary. I like to think I write well, but my guides are far more erudite than I am!

For Part 2 of this series, click here.