Summary Meetup: “What is Love?”
We watched a number of Youtube clips that discussed different aspects of love:
1. A song from the musical Carousel that describes love as something fatalistic you cannot defend yourself against. The lead character is immersed in her romantic identity as the girl that has no choice but to do what her lover tells her, even though he does not treat her well.
2. A biological perspective on love that describes what happens in our body chemically when we experience love.
3. A spiritual view on love which describes it as a state of complete acceptance without expectations.
4. A clip about Thich Nhat Hanh’s Buddhist community in France that practices love through mindfulness.
You can view all clips here (and another one by Dr Wayne Dyer which we did not manage to watch today): https://www.youtube.c...
As you would expect, views about what love is were quite diverse in our group. We agreed though that there are many different types of love from infatuation and romantic love to a love that applies to friends, family, colleagues or our pets. There were also differences in how we experience love and how we would like it to be.
So whilst we have different models of what love is, the question I am interested in as a coach is how well our models serve us. The story in the musical Carousel did not end well. How effective is your model of love?
Summary Meetup: The Power of Forgiveness
After our usual mediation, we discussed the reasons for forgiving and how to do it.
We acknowledged that forgiveness is something that we do for ourselves, not for the perceived perpetrator. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that we forget, trust the other person or maintain relationships with him or her. However, it helps us releasing the emotional charge or resentment that can eat us away from the inside.
Some useful ways of achieving forgiveness are:
1. Expressing anger and making ourselves heard (not necessarily in the presence of the other person).
2. Learning to see other sides to the story.
3. Understanding how we contributed to the event.
4. Seeing the benefits that came out of the situation.
5. Accepting that we cannot change the other person.
6. Learn to own the traits that we reject in others.
Sometimes, the hardest task is to forgive ourselves!
We watched three Youtube clips on the topic that you can find here: https://www.youtube.c...
Summary Meetup: The Power of Gratitude
Gratitude is a high vibrational emotional state that makes us feel good. When we are feeling grateful, we can't feel depressed, frustrated or angry at the same time. Our focus shifts from that what we don't have to all the gifts of life that we already enjoy.
There are endless things to feel grateful for: the fact that we breathe, that we have a home, that we have food, that we have met a friend for a coffee, that we saw a beautiful tree and so on.
By practising gratitude, it can become our natural outlook on life. If there was only one tool that I could recommend to my coaching clients, it would therefore be maintaining a gratitude journal. The simple act of writing down a few things that we are grateful for each day, immediately changes our emotional state.
Try it - just for three days and see what happens!
Here are a few YouTube clips that we watched on this topic:
Summary Meetup: Wheel of Life
The Wheel of Life is a diagram and life coaching tool that enables us to capture where we are in life, where we want to go and how to get there.
Spirituality can sometimes leave us with vague concepts that are difficult to integrate in our lives. Since the film “The Secret” there also a common misconception that the world is a comic supermarket in which we can get what we want by simply wishing for it. Well, things are not quite that simple and we still need to take action, create a momentum and remove barriers such as negative beliefs.
The Wheel of Life helps us with this by:
- evaluating each area in our life
- defining goals that are specific and measurable
- breaking goals down into small manageable steps
- gaining clarity over barriers and strengths
- finding solutions for those barriers
Two of the attendees volunteered to serve as case studies for a demonstration. We worked on their goals in the areas of ”friends” and “spirituality”. We drilled down into what exactly full satisfaction in these areas would look like, how they could achieve them in small steps and what was holding them back. We established that we all had quite similar themes in our lives and the case studies were therefore helpful for everybody in the group.
In the time given, we could only work on a few areas in the Wheel of Life and I hope that attendees feel encouraged to continue completing the rest of the wheel by themselves. Quite a few said they would. Well, I won’t check… ;-)
Summary Special Meetup: Introduction to Shamanism
A very interesting introduction to Shamanism by our member Dean Addams.
The evening was rich with ritual, symbolism, two Shamanic journeys and lots of smoke! The smoke came from the sage that we burned to cleanse us from negative energy. Smelled great!
Thus properly cleansed, Dean guided us through two short shamanic journeys to meet our power animals. Shamans believe that we can travel to different spirit worlds where we can communicate with other spirits. In the so called “lower world” we can meet our power animals, which are sprits or energies that are linked to us and express certain characteristics of us. We can talk to them and ask them questions, or sometimes they heal us or give us an experience. To meet them, we went into a meditative state accompanied by Dean’s drumming that lowered our brain waives. We then imagined our favourite place in nature and looked for an entrance to the lower world. Once there, we looked out for our power animal. Once it appeared, we asked it four times whether it was our power animal to make sure that it really was the right one. Some of us had surprises when their power animals turned out to be mules, squirrels or flamingos rather than something more exciting like a panther or lion.
We discussed whether our experiences where just imaginations or genuine contacts with an external spirit and Dean explained that energetically there was no difference as everything was energy and connected. Not quite sure that I have summarised this correctly but I am sure Dean will be happy to answer any questions if you want to contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dean runs weekly Shamanic evenings in Earls Court and also does one-2-one sessions if you are interested in exploring this path.
Summary Special Meetup: Two Sides of a Coin
Guest speaker Rodney Browne talked to us about the concepts of “duality’ and "oneness".
We started with an amazing mediation guided by Rodney. He played a beautiful sound track of binaural beats in the background that you can listen to here: https://www.youtube.c...
I loved it so much that I will continue to use it for my own meditation.
Rodney then explored with us where in life we experiences duality, for example consciousness/matter, male/female, pleasure/pain, ying/yang, peace/stress etc. He then told us how his longstanding practice of meditation had helped him finding a centre between the extreme poles of duality. Other members of the group shared how they find those moments of oneness also in other ways, for example when experiencing a beautiful sunset, running or being absorbed in painting. This triggered a discussion whether those experiences were “meditation” and we found that there were many different interpretations of this word as well as many different purposes mediation can have.
We also discussed whether by centring our experiences between the poles of duality we would loose out on the high end of the spectrum of positive emotions. This will depend on the value that we attribute to those high end emotions. Some members thought that there was bliss in that neutrality between the poles that more than compensated for the loss of extreme positive emotions.
All together a very stimulating evening and my thanks go to Rodney for creating it for us!
Summary Regular Meetup on Beliefs
We explored what beliefs are, how we form them and whether we can chose to believe in something that, well, we don't believe in!
We started by watching a video with Greg Braden, scientist, spiritual speaker and author of best sellers like the "Matrix: https://www.youtube.c...
In this clip, Greg Braden describes the power of belief to create reality. He explains that it was now generally accepted by scientists that the mind had an impact on matter and that only the extent of this was under debate.
If beliefs are indeed so powerful, the next question is how we can make ourself believe. During the evening, we exchanged very diverse views about this. Some of us thought that a belief was formed by experience, logic, external influence or learning. Others thought they just "knew" rather than believed or that their belief came from source vibration that defined what they were. Others again thought that belief was simply a matter of choice and that we could chose to believe whatever we wanted. Probably one of the most stimulating discussions we have had so far!
Summary 20th Meetup: Values
The Meetup had the topic “Values” and was slightly different from our usual Meetups in that it was more of a mini workshop than a discussion group.
I learnt about the importance of understanding and living in congruency with our core values as part of my training to become a life coach. In fact, my decision to walk away from my well-paid job in financial services was a consequence of understanding that my life was not aligned to my values and passions.
“Values” are principles and standards of behavior, and “core values” are our personal and most important guiding principles that dictate our behaviours and actions.
If we are not aware of our core values, we are at risk of living according to other people’s values, eg the values of our parents, media, friends, employer etc. If we do not live aligned to our own values, we become unhappy and ultimately sick. In my case, this resulted in two years of severe inflammatory bowel disease.
Here is a short clip about values by John DeMartini. It is a marketing clip for his book on values, but still the best short explanation of the importance of values I could find:
At our Meetup, I handed out a list of examples of values and asked members to pick and rank their 10 highest. I then asked the group whether they thought that they “should” have those values, whether they “wanted” them or already lived them. If we think that we “should have” a value, this could be a sign that the value is not really ours and should therefore not be on our list of core values.
We then drilled deeper with DeMartini’s value determination process to establish our top three of four core values. The DeMartini value determination process guides through a set of 13 questions that help determining what our core values are. Examples of the questions are:
- What do you fill our space at home with?
- For which things do you always make time?
- On what do you spend your money?
You can download the questionnaire for free from DeMartini’s website: https://drdemartini.c...
I strongly advise everybody to do this kind of values work, either with the above or a similar tool. It's important groundwork for any kind of personal or professional development and creates a wonderful clarity about one’s life and purpose.
Summary Special Event: "Healing in the 21th Century"
A big thanks to David for creating such a special evening for us. He is an Energy Healer and Applied Systematic Kinesiologist with a practice in South London. He works as a healer when people are sick and a guide when people are lost or disconnected from their path.
David explained that we were all healers because we have an innate power to heal ourselves. We do this everyday as our body is constantly regenerating. We can use the power of intention to use this healing ability more consciously. We do this by drawing energy and directing it to our individual healing system to heal whatever we want. This can be a healing of physical, emotional or karmic issues. David also talked about chakras, auras and the energy fields that surround us, how they affect us and how we can affect them.
He then guided us through a group meditation during which we activated our chakras and filled our bodies with white light.
The meditation must have been very powerful because I have never seen the group so spaced out after a meditation - in a good way! It may have had something to do with four crystals that David placed in the corners of my flat to support our meditation.
We ended the evening by sharing our experiences during the meditation and with a Q&A about how healing works within the immune system and our physical / emotional / mental and spiritual bodies.
A really round evening and David received a lot of positive feedback from the group. Thanks!!
If you are interested, David is available for private healing and guidance sessions. His number is 07967006126 or email on email@example.com. David trades under the name James Eason, which explains the difference in name in his email address.
Summary 18th Meetup: Affirmations
This Meetup was a mini workshop on Affirmations.
Affirmations are positive phrases which describe how you want to be or what you want to attract into your live. You repeat them to yourself, listen to them or write them down.
At a scientific level, the effect of affirmations can be explained as re-wiring or re-programming of the neural links in our brains. That's basically, what Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is about.
At a spiritual level, you can explain the effect through the Law of Attraction: The notion that we attract that what we focus on by sending our vibrations of thought and emotions into the universe.
Here are few clips that explain a bit more about affirmations:
We only watched the first one by Louise Hay, who is well-known in this field.
We started the evening with a meditation during which we silently repeated the following affirmations, five minutes for each statement:
- I am grateful for this life
- I chose happiness
- I chose love in all I do
- I love and accept myself
We then discussed how to draft affirmations to make them work. They should:
- be expressed in the positive
- not contain words that stand for what you do not want
- be short and simple
- be believable/realistic
- be personal
- be expressed in the present tense
Drafting good affirmations is quite a skill and if you are not used to using them, I recommend working with a coach to develop the right ones for you. I learnt from life coach Tony Selimi who works on an even deeper level than Louise Hay in this area. Here is a link to a guide on affirmations he wrote and that is also available on his website (http://www.tonyselimi...
The guide is a few years old now and Tony has honed is skills even further since then, but it is still a great introduction.
Affirmations can be used in many ways. The most effective way is to say them to your mirror image every day, looking deep into your own eyes. Other methods are writing them down over and over, meditating on them or recording and playing them back. Whichever method you chose, it is important that you also generate the emotion associated with the affirmation while using them. This may be fake to start to but will soon become your natural way of thinking and feeling.
Affirmations can work very quickly, in particular if you use them to raise your mood levels or self love. Where they do not work, it is often because the affirmation is not the right one. Never copy affirmation from books without tailoring them to your own circumstances. For example, if someone is severely depressed, saying out loudly "I am happy each and very" is likely to make that person even more depressed. The gap between the affirmation and the real emotion is just too high. In such case, a better starting point would be something like: "Today I am grateful to live" or "Today I am feeling better".
Summary Special Event: "Space to Grow"
Guest speaker Martin Feaver of the Mind Body Connection (http://www.themindbod....
Martin has over 25 years experience as a solution focused health and well being coach and sports therapist. He specialises in coaching gay men who want to make changes in their lives. Along with your mindset, he uses the powerful relationship between your mind and body so every component of you and your life is integrated and working together.
Martin's approach to life coaching is unique in that he has a particular focus on the interactions between body and mind. He can read a body like a book and inspires his clients to become more aware of them too.
True to his holistic approach, Martin started the evening with a meditation that focussed on becoming aware of each body part and then on sending white light to particular areas.
He then started a lively and engaging talk about creating space to grow in our busy lives. From the many interesting topics he covered, a few messages particularly resonated with me, for example how we use treats like a chocolate bar as a quick fix for an emotional need, ignoring how it can damage us without providing the desired fix in the long term. He also compared stressed people to old cars that are struggling to go up hill, bound to break. He invited us to make space for nourishing activates that we do purely for ourselves, not for anybody else.
Here are his top tips on this subject:
You are the expert in and on your life. Pause and listen to yourself and notice when you are closing down space, or creating space, in your life. When life gets harder, there is less joy or less energy then you are reducing space. You are collapsing rather than exploding. It's time to take action to change. This can begin with your attitude.
Develop an attitude of abundance - especially with time.
Be mindful when you do anything - with neither reference to the past or future.
Develop an awareness of your language, judgement and stories and whether they are supporting you in creating space in your mind, body and life or reducing it.
Be aware you always have choice - even when you think you don't you are still choosing.
Put yourself first. It's called self interest and means you approach the world with ease, kindness and selflessness.
Applaud yourself more than you criticise yourself.
The mind body connection is a powerful tool in creating space. Moving your body matters.
Martin also showed a short video in which neuroscientists Richard Davidson and Amishi Jha and clinical mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn discuss the science behind the mind-body connection: https://www.youtube.c...
If you want to hear more from Martin, he runs his own Meet Up group called "Building Confidence for London's Gay Men". Here's the link -
You can also book Martin for private consultations: http://www.themindbod...
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|The Story So Far - Part 2||July 26, 2015 5:48 PM||Hans S.|
|The Story so far||November 18, 2014 8:54 AM||Hans S.|
|Commitments for our meetings||March 22, 2014 12:28 PM||Hans S.|
|FAQ||March 14, 2014 1:00 PM||Hans S.|
|About Spiritual Gay Men in London||March 9, 2014 10:01 AM||Hans S.|