Not All Dreams Are Created Equal

November 30, 2015
trevor's dream

A Symbolic Dream

One of the first priorities when we start to work with dreams is to distinguish what to focus on, as not all dreams are created equal. Occasionally we can become overwhelmed trying to interpret every dream that enters our awareness. Recently, I have been witnessing dreams that come as an affirmation of our current life journey. It is as though the soul wants to assure us that we are on the right path. One dream-partner shared a dream of being able to sing beautifully, it was an amazing moment as she has always aspired to sing and now the voice in the dream was the one she had always longed for. She knew immediately that the dream was not about a vocal miracle; it was a declaration that she had found her voice in the world in which she lived.

So what are some of the other forms that dreams may take?

  • Junk Mail Dreams There are dreams that come simply to support us in discarding the psychic trash. These dreams are full of haphazard, overlapping images that can create chaos in the waking mind. Treat these like junk mail; they came to pass and perhaps clear some of the detritus from an overloaded mind.
  • Anxiety Dreams There are the classic anxiety dreams that everyone will occasionally encounter; you arrive at the airport without ticket, passport or bag; you sit an exam with no pencil or paper. These are a normally a sign of some harmless anxiety about a future event however if your dreams are always anxious then it will be important to explore the underlying cause.
  • Precognitive Dreams Infrequently you may have dreams that are pre-cognitive of a future event. These dreams are generally like a photograph: clear, accurate, no symbols. There is no explaining these dreams outside of the context that “we are more than we think we are”.
  • Collective Dreams Some dreams may represent something happening in the collective consciousness at the time. Carl Jung dreamed images of the First World War before it happened. I recall attending a meditation on the evening of September 11th 2001 and everyone except one person there had experienced disturbed sleep the night prior to the event.
  • Dreams of the Life Not Lived They totally intrigue me; I encountered them at a time when I was deeply involved in pursuing my spiritual quest and spending a lot of time in meditation and on retreat. I began to have these movie type dreams full of action and adventure; these were related to the lack of exciting activity in my life at the time. I always regretted that I could not recall them as I am convinced there was an Oscar contender in their somewhere.
  • Symbolic Dreams of Guidance The ones I focus on in my workshops. Much has been written and explored but look for these signs of a significant dream: it features people you know, three is a significant number, it contains emotion and energy, it is about travel, your waking self tells you it is a “stupid meaningless dream”, and particularly if you have similar dreams on a theme.
  • Dreams Outside of Time Sometimes these symbolic guidance dreams occur before the event in question has occurred; this can be confusing but very affirming after the event has transpired and you realize that you had a dream that helped you cope with the experience. I had one such dream recently. “I am standing on a ocean beach, I feel I am too close to the waves and move back to a safer distance however a huge wave swamps me right up to the centre of my chest then recedes leaving me no worse for wear. My sister Chris and her daughter Amy are there. The scene segues to a sparse forest with lots of space between the trees. Suddenly I put my hands in my pocket and find my keys missing, then I think I find them and then realize they are not the right keys as my shorts have changed. I begin to panic as it is getting dark, my sister and I retrace our steps, she finds my keys hanging in a tree.” This dream is about allowing myself to get swamped by emotion and knowing I will be safe then trusting that although I may not know what is going on the “key” lies through the feminine feelings. This dream came a couple of months before the event actually took place.
  • Energy Dreams My dream partner reminded me there are also dreams of pure energy. They are not always easy to understand but frequently offer a sense of connection to the divine through our chi and our chakras. In this type of dream the body can feel as though an electric current is flowing through it.
  • Dreams of Invention It was a dream that led Einstein to develop his theories of relativity and Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, had a dream of being surrounded by cannibals with long spears with a hole in the end that helped him solve where the eye in the needle needed to go.

As my wonderful teacher Atum O’Kane says, “Having a dream and failing to explore it is like receiving a gift and not unwrapping it.For a free dream partnering download go to http://www.soulclarity.com/free_taste.html


The Souls Journey – Using Body Sense to Make a Spontaneous Decision

October 3, 2022

It was a glorious late afternoon in September and I’d been sitting down at the beach enjoying the sun and my book. Now it was time to stroll home but as I left the beach I passed a young woman who intercepted me and asked if she could pose a question. For a millisecond I hesitated – was this some kind of scam or request for money, then I responded that of course she could. The question she asked me entirely took me aback. “ I am living in Vancouver and have been thinking that I should move to Squamish but I feel so frightened, can you help me?” For a brief moment I felt a sense of awe and wonder that she should have chosen me out of all the people she could have encountered on that day. What a bizarre synchronicity! During my life I have learned to trust these moments; it seemed like a “divine appointment.”

About 21-years ago I developed a decision making model. I had named it DecisionClarity and for about twelve years it was the major passion in my life. It began with the opportunity to do a weekly presentation on decision making for people living with a cancer diagnosis who were exploring complementary therapies. Frequently they faced challenging decisions about different treatments, about quality of life and sometimes life and death. I tried to offer them a process to make decisions and allow them to get in touch with their own deeper sense of knowing or intuition. This work became the focus of my life, I wrote and published a book titled Life‘s Little Book for Big Decisions as well as a companion CD. I did presentations and workshops; it took me as far afield as California and London but was mostly centred in Vancouver. I also did individual counselling to guide people through the process. It was my passion, felt meaningful and fulfilling but then in 2012 it stopped.

I never really understood why. Intuitive decision making has become more main stream and perhaps my time was done. However I sensed the vacuum would lead to something else and indeed out of this loss came my spiritual coaching practice and my passion for dream exploration and doing workshops. Well recently following Covid my life became once again a blank slate. My work seemed to have faded away, but at 77 I did not feel discontented, perhaps it was time to relax.

I decided it was time to rid myself of the surplus books that were residing behind my couch upstairs. I had sold about 850 of the 1,000 I had printed so I decided to distribute the rest in the little free libraries popping up in the neighbourhood. There are seven close to me and somewhat to my surprise every week or so they would all be picked up.

When I expressed my astonishment to a friend of mine who is familiar with my work, she expressed her opinion that it was as valuable today as when I wrote it. Then to my surprise out of the blue I got an order for my book! I took this as a sign to at least float a seminar on Zoom. I had four acceptances, but this diminished to two on the day and only one seemed really engaged. I decided that I had given it a try and I could now let it rest.

However the appearance of this young woman suggests that for now it won’t let me rest. Fortunately I had done the workshop earlier in the week so the concepts were fresh in my mind. I suggested that fear was a powerful emotion but could not necessarily be equated with intuition. I suggested to her that although she may not think she knows what to do, at a deeper level of her being she really does know. I asked her if she’d be interested in a simple decision making process called body sense or muscle testing.

My familiarity with this process had been refreshed during my preparation for the workshop earlier in the week. It had been gifted to me by a young woman who approached me after one of my presentations to explain that she had recently tried this when visiting a health food store. She was trying to decide which of two supplements to buy. She had asked the assistant for guidance and the assistant has said that she believed her body knew which one would be right for her. She suggested she stretch out her arm, hold one supplement over her heart and visualize taking this one. The assistant then placed light pressure on the outstretched arm which collapsed weakly in response. When she tried the same with the other supplement her arm held firm demonstrating the body’s approval.

I explained the process to her and she stretched out her right arm, while placing the other hand over her heart, closed her eyes and held the intention of staying in Vancouver. I applied light pressure to the arm and it immediately collapsed. Then we repeated the process with the intention of going to Squamish and when I applied pressure the arm had great resistance. I observed, “well your body wants to go to Squamish.”

I then gave her a practice to help with seeking additional guidance by setting an intention, developing an affirmation seeking guidance and then paying attention to signs and synchronicities for reinforcement of her decision. We parted with her expressing I think both gratitude and a little confusion.

As I strolled away I could not help but wonder about this experience. Powerful synchronicities (meaningful coincidences) had often guided my path. What was this going to mean for me? I realized that I may be ready to let go of decision making but perhaps it was not ready to let go of me. A friend of mine later commented that perhaps I should be more open to spontaneous decision making as opposed to the more structured approach I usually follow. Perhaps it is time to make a decision!


The Souls Journey – Reflections on Fate vs Destiny

September 2, 2022

James Hollis suggests in his wonderful book Hauntings that we should look at the relationship of fate vs destiny. He suggests we look at fate as the givens with which we are endowed – genetics, parents, family, culture, upbringing for example. Destiny: the potential within the person that which wishes to unfold within us. How have we shown up in the world? How did our fate manifest during the first half of life? How about the second half? What made the difference? Do you notice any sense of a guiding principle or spirit that helped shift you from one destiny to another?

We can also apply this principal to any major event in our life. Any event that seems entirely out of our control could be also construed as our fate. For example a separation, a major injury, the loss of a job etc. In this case we begin by looking at the circumstances of our lives at the time of the event- what was going on? Where had fate seemed to intervene? What destiny may be unfolding as a consequence?

On a beautiful day in Vancouver some years ago, I went on a day hike up Grouse Mountain. I began with the Grouse Grind, an impossibly steep three km. winding trail that averages about a 30% grade much of the way. At the top you are greeted with magnificent views of Vancouver below you. Then feeling energetic I decided to ascend a higher trail to Goat Mountain. At times this involved clambering steep rock faces, but the reward was a magnificent vista of coast range mountains and even glacier capped Mount Baker in the distance.

It was on the way down that the unexpected happened. I stepped over a log and my left foot turned and I heard a distinct “crack”, I feared I had broken an ankle because although I could move my toes, it no longer could take almost no weight. It was a quiet trail and I was alone, no help in sight. Fortunately I had taken a hiking cane, unusual but with its aid I struggled 40 minutes to the top of the mountain where the gondola awaited. It was an eventful trip home via driving with one foot, a clinic to tell me I needed an X-ray, the emergency room at a downtown hospital to be finally six hours later sitting on my couch contemplating ruefully the impact on my life and why this may have occurred.

It was indeed broken but because of my experience it was too swollen to cast so I had a splint and a pair of crutches. This proved a blessing as the follow up X-ray a week later persuaded the orthopaedic doctor that an airboot would suffice saving me six weeks on crutches! It could have been so much worse!

So how do fate and destiny enter the picture? Fate clearly contributed to the accident; I had not been careless or mindless, it seemed to be imposed on me. Fate had also been kind to me by reminding me to bring my hiking cane and minimizing the impact of the trauma. However was there meaning to be gained from this experience? I very much believed that life sends us signs to guide our way – was this such a sign?

The circumstances of my life at the time was that I was exploring my spirituality. I had become a spiritual wayfarer exploring different traditions and interests. I think “spiritual flirt” would be an appropriate description. I had developed a belief in universal power and energy and was seeking ways to access and utilize this.

Two other factors seemed relevant. First a friend of mine had been trying to persuade me to accompany him to church. I had great resistance due to an earlier “fate” of being brought up in a strict Baptist home and developing a life long antipathy to religion and church. Secondly I had been reading a book titled The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and had just read a critique of new age spirituality as having no depth. It suggested finding a path preferably one connected with your cultural identity and going deeply into it.

Somewhat reluctantly I accepted fate was leading me to return to organized religion so I began to attend the Unity Church. This undoubtedly was a key determinant in my destiny as each step led to another. I made peace with Christianity, studied at theological college and eventually became a Spiritual Coach. Fate indeed stepped in to manifest a destiny I could not have even imagined and changed my life forever.


The Soul’s Journey Moving Healing from the Head to the Heart

June 16, 2022

 A son who showed up like a mirror reflecting all his worst fears.

A left hook, his son crumpled on the kitchen floor.

Tortured by clinging to a faith that betrayed him.

A restless angry God that he struggled to love.

And the fear! And the fear!

Haunting him.

An insidious thought he could never truly own.

“Perhaps I am wrong”

Part of my morning practice is to read a page or two from James Hollis’s remarkable book Hauntings. On this particular day he was suggesting that everyone’s life has a core complex, a subterranean, archaic reflex that can regularly impact our current reactions and behaviours. I have known for a while that my own core complex has been my relationship with my father. It could colour my reaction to many situations causing either fight or flight depending on the trigger – similar responses that my father had often triggered.

I have learned how to live with this conflict; the wound is always there but how I react to it can be managed. This was not always the case as I remember once getting fired because in the moment I yelled at my boss “you don’t have a constructive bone in your body” when I thought he was being unduly critical. This was  was actually a child’s response to his father rather than a reasoned adult to his superior. My past could haunt my present in a way that at the time I seemed unable to control.

Much time has passed since then and I have done an inordinate amount of exploration around my relationship with my dad and have over time learned to forgive him, believing that he had done the best he could under the circumstances. I felt curious about why I was revisiting this once again when I felt that I had completed my work around this issue.

Hollis was friends with the great poet Stephen Dunn who gave permission to share his story of his relationship with his father where a secret had permeated family life causing ongoing friction in the household and a complex to develop around secrecy. I sensed that much of Stephen’s healing came from writing about this. In a poem titled The Ghost, he writes, “An outgoing man, my father once held back a truth that would have rescued him from sadness. Now he roams my inheritance in every word I hear him speak. He vanishes, returns, no place for him in this entire world.”

Hollis suggests that only dialogue with such “stuff” provides release. I reflected on my journey and all the complexities derived from a father who could not accept his son the way he was. My disbelief in God at the age of 14 had become a wall as impenetrable as the ideological iron curtain that had developed between the west and the USSR after the war. Our relationship was forever strained as a result. He accused me as being “willful” as though it was a deliberate choice made to offend him.

As I mused about the past, I noticed words flowing up from somewhere deep within. Words, then phrases, then sentences that seemed to morph independent of the thinker into a poem. I stopped in wonder and surprise at what seemed a miracle. As I read the words I sensed I understood my father for the first time. Then I felt a piece of my personal puzzle slip into place reminding me of Dorriane Laux’s exquisite poem Break. “ we put the puzzle together piece by piece loving how each curved notch fits so sweetly with another.“

I realized that underneath this core complex I had unconsciously wanted to know why my father could not love me unconditionally. As I read the poem I could see how impossible I would be for him to express love to someone who mirrored all his worst fears. Suddenly I felt more at peace. It was as though the healing had shifted from my head to my heart.


Gratitude to Old Teachers

April 17, 2022
 When we stride or stroll across the frozen lake,
We place our feet where they have never been.
We walk upon the unwalked. But we are uneasy.
Who is down there but our old teachers?

This poem by Robert Bly resulted in reminiscence about some of the important teachers in my life. I realize that much of the foundation of my belief systems has resulted from the teachers who crossed my path at precisely the right time.

In The Beginning The first supportive character in the tortuous drama of my early life was the Reverend Pullen, the chaplain at Christs Hospital, the public school “borstal” to which I was condemned to spend six abysmal years of my early life. He had given us an assignment to write a paper on “Why God was a good God and not a comic sadist?” I turned the title around to argue that God was a comic sadist. The result was unexpected as he surprisingly praised my paper for its thoughtfulness and for a time supported my challenging journey with my father who seemed to think I was now condemned to hell.

Letting Go Of The Past The next was a Minister of the local Baptist Church, the Reverend Gordon Glover. I was fifteen years old and my inability to accept the basic tenets of the church was causing great conflict with my father and mother. Somehow my mother persuaded me reluctantly to visit the Minister of the church I had been dragged to for many years. After he welcomed me in I explained the foundations of my disbelief – the loving God crucifying his son to save me, the absurdity of being born again, the inconsistencies in the whole story. He looked at me with care and concern then leaned over and said, “you are absolutely fine, don’t worry about it. You will find what you need in your own time.” Needless to say this earned him the enmity of my father for the rest of time but to me it was an amazing moment.

Becoming A New Age Spiritual Flirt It was not until I reached fifty that I spent any time reflecting on this mystery of which we are all part. This was the consequence of the trauma suffered from a second failed marriage. My younger second wife abandoned me leaving a shattered shell. However the gift of a bizarre psychic relationship led me to a therapist who suggested spiritual possibilities that up to thus time were quite alien to me. This led to a search for knowledge and understanding, curiosity and synchronicity led me to explore many paths. Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Thomas Moore, to name some of the more reputable but also some of the more esoteric – channeling, angels and fairies, aliens, etheric ascensions etc. Unwittingly I had become a spiritual flirt.

When the Student is Ready the Teacher Appears. It took breaking my ankle to find my next teacher. After a fateful hike, I was seated with my splinted leg raised horizontal, reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche when I read his suggestion to stop flirting with different paths but pick one and go deeper. It coincided with a friend of mine suggesting I go to the Unity church. I had told him I was done with Christianity but this combination of events resulted in a change of mind and so I discovered the amazing late Reverend Marvin Anderson of the Unity Church in Vancouver that guided my path for a number of years. He reintroduced me to a form of Christianity that gave me the freedom to have my own beliefs. No longer was everything in the Bible literally true. God was no longer an elderly, patriarchal male who believed in retribution. He helped me to see that my previously proclaimed atheism was actually a lack of belief in the God espoused my father. He had a brilliant mind, was widely read and helped to broaden my spiritual search.

Going Deeper I began to study at Unity Village in Missouri for two years and deepened my quest in many ways. He introduced a concept that was profound and as far as I can tell original. “The simplicity that precedes complexity is useless, the simplicity that follows complexity is the pearl of great price.” It helped me through the years when I had to let go of simplistic beliefs and attitudes in order to grow. Finally he preached a sermon that freed me from a trap of my own making. I was sitting in the balcony of a packed church in the company of hundreds of kindred souls. It was as though he was speaking straight to my heart. “Some of you need to move on, your time here is done.”

Going Wider Leaving Unity opened the door to my next teacher. Following a series of signs and synchronicities I enrolled in a two-year program called the Art of Spiritual Guidance. It was crazy thing to do; I did not know the teacher; it was a significant commitment of money and time; yet I felt called. Atum O’Kane was a profound influence in my life. He opened the door to the psychological aspects of my spiritual journey. He introduced me to Carl Jung, the unconscious and the shadow, dream work, body sculpture and drawing to connect with deeper wisdom, and a deeper understanding of Soul. He introduced me to Sufism, mystic Judaism as well teachings from the Christian and Buddhist tradition. He provided the groundwork that gave me the confidence to practice as a Spiritual Coach, teaching how to hold sacred space, how to listen from the heart and trust my intuitive wisdom.

Unravelling My Psychology Atum is still a big part of my life, shows up in my dreams but the primary teaching role has passed to a man that I deem to be the wisest I have ever met. James Hollis is Jungian Analyst, writer and teacher. His framework for the spiritual life feels right. His belief that meaning is a much higher aspiration then happiness has profoundly influenced my work. His understanding of the powerful forces of the unconscious is second to none, yet he is the first person to say, “I know nothing about the unconscious, that’s why it is called the unconscious.” However he helps us understand that we can derive from dreams and the patterns of our lives the forces that unconsciously control our responses. His explanation of complexes, how they originate and how they affect us is a keystone to my understanding of self, limited as it may be? His audio book, Through The Dark Wood is the best recipe for a meaningful exploration of our lives I have ever encountered. Up to this time I have listened to it ten times and each time I get something new.

I am the product of my great teachers, I feel amazingly blessed to have met each one of them on this earth walk. I sense that each builds on the foundation of the other. To quote the beautiful song written in 1982 by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley – “They are the wind beneath my wings.”


The Soul’s Journey – Understanding Trauma

March 16, 2022

It Began With a Wipe Out.

I am skiing on my own. I am feeling a bit fatigued from an intense powder day the day before. I decide to push myself a little, skiing a run called the Harmony Glades. The snow seems heavy. I make a mistake and topple over. It is not serious but then I am confronted by a series of complications. I try to push myself up but a combination of my limited upper body strength and my skis sliding down the hill causes me to fall back over. This is followed by the sounding of an unusual alarm.

Panic Sets In

I panic a little when realize it my Apple Watch. It wants to know if I am OK or it will call 911. How embarrassing would that be? I struggle to remove my ski gloves but manage to switch it off in time. Then realize the only way out of this dilemma is to take my skis off. With difficulty I click out of my bindings. I struggle to my feet, align my ski to the slope but it keeps slipping. I am becoming less centred and more flustered. Finally I get one on but the other won’t go. It is getting increasingly frustrating. I think I have been successful but as I push away the uphill ski drops off and I hit the snow again. I feel increased anxiety and tension. No one has skied by me and I seem entirely on my own. I notice there is ice built up under my front binding. I manage to chip it off with my ski pole. I try again and it seems to have engaged but feels unsafe and may drop off anytime. I try to ski with the weight only on one ski. Easier said than done. I feel so vulnerable. I begin to ski like a novice. After what seems like an hour I get out of my predicament and back on to groomed piste and down to the chairlift. I feel exhausted and only want to get down the hill except I have 5,000 vertical feet to go.

Understanding Traumatic Response

I was sharing this experience with my friend Trish Walsh, a psychotherapist who teaches trauma workshops and she was able to immediately demonstrate to me that I was suffering from all the classic symptoms of a traumatic experience. 

1) Fear – feeling a lack of safety.  

2) A feeling of being overwhelmed – helpless and/or powerless. 

3) A sense of disconnection  

4) I felt alone and not protected (not necessarily physically but psychologically/emotionally)  

She also told me that trauma could lead to leading a smaller more constricted life. This reminds me of a second traumatic incident when I found myself in a huge alpine bowl, in fog, unable to see, and falling every few minutes during an endless travail that lasted over an hour. I have not been able to face that run again despite conditions being dramatically improved.  

Gabor Mate, author of the book When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress writes that the Greek root meaning of trauma is ‘wound’. He says trauma is a ‘psychic wound’ that develops scar tissue, making us more rigid, less flexible, and less feeling.  

My response to my trauma was to evaluate how I got myself in that situation. My body was fatigued, I was pushing myself, so it reminded me to take care of my body when it’s tired or feeling discomfort. I have tended to push through which is of course old behaviour of a much younger me. It was time to take it easy.  

Healing Trauma

Talking about this with Trish really helped me understand my predicament. I realized that I did not need to avoid the ski run, I needed to use more discernment about when to ski it. I also found it particularly fascinating to realize my response at the time was from the trauma of the experience and that by acknowledging that possibility in the moment it could help me deal with it in a more accomplished and less fearful manner. 

Postscript: Responding to this post Trish commented, “I like at the end you add “talking about it” – that’s one of the most important components of trauma healing. (sharing with another caring, attuned person).”   

Trish Walsh is a Registered Master Therapeutic Counsellor, her website at https://trishwalsh.ca She offers regular workshops on Trauma Training.


The Soul’s Journey – Holding The Centre When Organizing Meetings for a Spiritual Community.

March 8, 2022

A Dedication to All Those Wonderful, Selfless Souls Who Organize Events for a Spiritual Community.

Recently I came across a presentation I made in 2014 at the closure of a gathering I organized for ninety-five people. It struck me it was quite amusing so I sent it to a friend. A day or so later a mutual acquaintance she had shared it with wrote to me commenting “it was so true that it brought tears to my eyes. It can be exhausting! I am evaluating what I have the strength to continue doing at this point in my life.” I realized I was not alone in what had seemed a lonely journey. So this is for all of you who embrace the challenge of organizing meetings in a spiritual context.

Organization Skills and Efficiency Will Not be Enough

If I say so myself I am a fine organizer, administrator and financial manager. At first I saw my primary role as managing financial concerns, organizing a venue, accommodation, food, registration and collecting money. I also helped design the program, coordinate speakers, and negotiate terms. I knew I could handle this with ease. What I did not realize was the human side of the event that could drive one to drink.

Fortunately I had a dream that warned me of what would come. I have to deal with a “disorganized jumble of personal possessions and dirty laundry that I do not want to even touch” I realized this represented the human interaction, the aggravation, the frustration, the procrastination, the confusion and all of the stuff that makes up life when you are trying to organize 95 people and get them to pay you. NB never allow anyone to pay by instalments, I did and it was a nightmare!

Spiritual Communities Are Like A Family

At one point I was sharing with the teacher of our community some experiences and he looked calmly at me and said “I think you are being given an opportunity to experience parenting.” The community was my family but what a challenging family it proved to be.

Like many other families most people are eager to please, want to do the right thing, but despite best intentions things don’t always work out. Just like in a family people like to blame someone else. For example “Its not my fault I am late, you should have given us more notice.” “Why didn’t you make the deadline two days later?’

Typologies In The Family

I began to identify a number of different typologies that frequent a spiritual community. Some people fitted into more than one category. Here are some of the types I learned to work with.

The Technophobe

This seemed to a high proportion of the group – words like Survey Monkey, PayPal, Google, MailChimp run shivers down their backs. While trying to complete a simple registration form many people were convinced they had failed. So they tried to register again, sometimes bypassing the protocol to avoid this by using a second computer. So now I had to deal with duplicates. Many had to bombard me with their experience adding to my work.

The Scatterbrained

So many people cannot make up their mind, change their mind, disappear – three people registered and I could never contact them again. One canceled, booked, canceled, then wanted money back that they hadn’t paid.

The Self-Entitled

A number of people seemed to think I was their personal travel agent giving me instructions to “wait list me for a single, book me a double plus find me a room in nearest town just in case”

The Dyslectic

Some people gave me a wrong email address then complained when they did not hear back. Then there were checks with no signature or amount. Then of course the complaints of “I am sure I paid you.”

The Attention, Deficit Disorder.

Sadly I think most people did not have the ability to read to the end of an email. Literally I would get a question back immediately that I just answered in the email or being asked when they needed to pay when a schedule was attached.

The Dysfunctional Couple

There were a few of these! It shows up by both booking, neither booking or in one case the wife booked and her husband cancelled her credit card payment.

The Anxiety Stricken

These need constant reassurance – have I booked? Have a I paid? Am I registered? When I sent out a notice saying by now I should have received your payment the only people I heard from were those who had already paid, checking to make sure.

Waiting For a Sign

Some people seemed paralysed by indecision because they were waiting for the right sign or omen. This was most irritating as it was my reflection in the mirror. I tend to live my life seeking the sign or guidance. It works well until it impacts someone else. I got a glimpse of how infuriating I must be.

Holding The Centre

The dream was a continual source of support reminding me that this was just more dirty laundry. However I needed to find tools to help me stay centered and not overreact. I tried to remember Juan Manuel Ruiz’s simple formula – “don’t take it personally, don’t make assumptions, do your best and be impeccable to your word” and I took a lot of long walks to recite poetry and mantras. In addition I found music a great solace. Becoming centred helped me rephrase my responses to be a little more considerate and less pointed despite being tempted to launch a tirade: “there is one of me and 95 of you, do you really think I have time to answer your inane, stupid, unnecessary questions?”

Coming back For More

I organized four gatherings of my community. It became an act of service and gratitude. They did not get easier in fact became more complex as we expanded and held gatherings in Assisi, and Oaxaca in Mexico. The finale was supposed to be Assisi in 2020 but we had to cancel due to Covid. It was planned to be my swansong as I had decided to retire from these events. Now my final act was the undoing. Yet in hindsight it was all worth while. What will stay with me is the warm sense of appreciation and expressions of gratitude for a job well done. A quote springs to mind from my Christian studies, in Timothy 4v7, St Paul says: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. It feels like a lovely completion.


The Soul’s Journey – Languages of the Soul

December 27, 2021

How do we know what is inner wisdom, and when it’s just
our ego playing games with us? Or is it just time to leave Mexico?

You have within you a powerful source – call it your instinct your intuition your gut wisdom which will always tell you what is right for you. Serve that, respect that.

Eminent Jungian analyst James Hollis wrote the above words in his book Hauntings.

Intuitive Mona Lisa Schultz suggests we all have intuition but we all have it differently and the language that speaks to each of us is unique.

Much more poetically, Lebanese poet Kahil Gibran in the Prophet says, “ The hidden well-spring of your depths must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea; and the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.“

As I contemplate these pearls of wisdom, I am on a beach in Sayulita, Mexico, in the midst of the Omicron Covid wave, trying to decide whether or not to extend my stay. Is there some sort of inner guidance system I could use to help bring clarity to this decision?

Most great teachers believe in an inner guidance system but there is a lot of mist and fog around what this actually means.

Part of this confusion is that our inner voice will speak to each of us differently – there is no “one voice fits all” – so the challenge is to find out how inner guidance may work for each one of us.

Over the years of working with this principle I have realized I have my own unique ways of appreciating guidance that I sometimes can’t see at the time.

Jungian author Robert Johnson refers to “slender threads” – a kind of connective tissue linking one experience to the next through synchronicities. Reflecting back on my life I can see threads that directed my path; my father indirectly caused me to leave England thus changing the whole direction of my life; sharing an apartment with a South African in Toronto resulted in me travelling the globe and meeting my first wife; a mid-life crisis eventually resulted in me becoming a spiritual coach. Logically of course these are all coincidences, but in hindsight they form a pattern.

Along the way, key questions have arisen.

How important is it to activate our own inner guidance system or is it always turned on?

How important is belief in accessing our inner voice?

What is the role of setting intention and paying attention?

Are our lives shaped for us whether we choose or not?

How do we test to know if it is inner wisdom and not our ego playing games with us?

James Hollis remarked, “there are only answers that make sense to you at this moment and they will fail you later in your journey.”

This principle can be very upsetting and confusing. For many years I was certain that my inner guidance came from external oracles –Tarot, Runes, a pendulum, the I Ching, to name a few – and they seemed to work skillfully in guiding me through life. Until they didn’t. After reflection, I realized they had become a way of shifting responsibility from me to the oracle and it was time to move on.

Other forms of guidance seem to occur autonomously of a belief or intention. For example I had a dream that arose spontaneously and helped me with organizing a conference. The first part of the dream was extremely helpful in the moment – it helped me realize that managing an event it is not just about administration. I had to be prepared to handle personal foibles. At the end of the dream, conference materials had to be transported downhill to Assisi. This made no sense at all at the time. Only a year later did it fall into place when my teacher advised the next event would be in Assisi and I knew then I was to organize that event.

I sense that deeper insight both approaches us but also can be approached.

So, back in Mexico, I began to ask for guidance on whether to extend my vacation. On the one hand I had no reason to go home, I would have to quarantine over Christmas, and the weather at home was cool and wet. So it was no contest from a personal comfort point of view.

On the other hand it was the busiest time of the year In Sayulita and everything here seemed booked. It would mean moving and it would be expensive both to change flights and reserve a new hotel.

I sat with it for a couple of days and intuited that I would go home if I had to find new accommodations.

I approached the manager of the small hotel where I am staying. His response was not encouraging as he thought they were fully booked but he said he would check. He returned with a huge smile on his face. “It’s remarkable”,he said, showing me that every room was booked except one. Through the schedule one vacancy stood out like the star of Bethlehem. My room was available right through the holiday. I did not even have to move!

Just a coincidence, or a clear sign?

How do we continually access our inner guidance until it becomes a seamless reality?

Perhaps the intuitive self speaks all the time but most of the time we remain unaware. Maybe simply accepting the principle of inner guidance and bringing increased intention to the circumstances of our lives helps us take more advantage of it.

I believe the starting point is living a life that is conscious, strives to find meaning, and is awake and attentive. Once I began to meditate, my intuition seemed to become more active. This became more noticeable when I made a commitment to follow what guidance came as best as I could – paying attention to dreams as opposed to ignoring them or asking myself whether there could be reasons for a certain experience.

Dreams are generally encoded and personal, so we need to become familiar with our own dream language. The same applies to signs and symbols as well. Body symptoms may also be symbolic, so the art of discernment becomes important. (Once after getting over a cold, it lingered on in my chest. Prior to trotting off to the doctor. I asked myself, do I have anything to get off my chest? An answer came, and as soon as I addressed the issue my chest got better!)

As Freud once said, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” But it is always worth asking the question – could there be a relationship between what is happening to me and my deeper wisdom?

The foundation of my practice is a belief that first of all, deeper wisdom is there. Then it requires intention to access it. Thirdly I have to pay attention to witness it. Finally, at times, I have to suspend logic to accept it. Then it becomes a magical mystery tour of experiences that over time I catalogue so I recognize guidance in the future.

I now pay special attention to dreams, synchronicity (meaningful coincidence), symbols and signs, and body symptoms.

We have to find our own way through the labyrinth of life. James Hollis observed, “When what we are doing is right for us, we feel a sense of purpose, meaning and satisfaction.”

Occasionally our experience is accompanied by a mystical almost ethereal reaction where tears and laughter merge. Then we know for sure we are on the right path.

At the end of the final Harry Potter movie, Harry finds himself in an ethereal locale with Professor Dumbledore. He asks, “is this real? Or has it been happening in my head?” Dumbledore’s reply is sublime. ‘Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?’

I’ll contemplate that over another cerveza.

NB with special gratitude to my friend Lorne Craig for his editing prowess!


The Soul’s Journey- Equanimity

December 2, 2021

May we dwell in the great equanimity free, from passion, aggression and prejudice. Pema Chodren

Failed again – my equanimity had been shattered! I walked home disconsolately having been refused admission to the movie theatre because I offered a photo of my driver’s license as support for my vaccine passport. Both were on my phone however according to the strict letter of the law only the original driver’s license is acceptable of proof of identity. Most places have allowed me to use the photo including a cinema in the same chain but not this theatre. ‘The law is an ass”, I mumbled to myself while reluctantly accepting I had not maintained equanimity under the stress of not being admitted.

However by the time I got home which was a pleasant six-minute walk on an urban greenway in sunshine. my equanimity was restored. It gave me a chance to pick up my glasses that I had previously forgotten and I suspected all I would miss was the commercials.

Equanimity is one of what the Buddha called the Four Immeasurables. The others are loving-kindness, compassion and sympathetic joy. One of my daily intentions is to sustain these beautiful attributes and it has proved much more challenging than it sounds.

I was soon tested again as when I got back and presented my license as I was still refused entry. The attendant now wanted to scan my vaccine passport again pretending she had never seem me before. Frustration returned, it seemed more like the mad hatters tea party than real life. I think she wanted to show me who was boss as I had asked for the manager last time. Frustrated I pulled up my vaccine passport and grumbled “Bureaucracy! You missed your calling”. She was more graceful than I deserved and this actually made me feel worse.

I have learned that what destroys equanimity are complexes. This is the term C.G. Jung used to describe a structure generated by history that carries a quantum of energy. Under certain stimulus this energy rushes up like a subway train and possesses the present moment. There seems to be an inner script that creates a reaction to a given situation that is often illogical and unreasonable.

I already could see I had not acted with the grace I would have liked and clearly I had not lived up to my self-professed desire to stay in a state of equanimity no matter what life threw at me. But why had this episode triggered a complex? I noticed an energy flooding my body when she refused me admission.

In the moment I react at her despite knowing she is doing her job and following the instructions she has been given.  Why does this feel so much more? As I journal about this I see the connection to the past. It is like a time machine transporting me to another place. My father is telling me I can’t go to a movie because Sunday is the Sabbath and we must keep it holy. The same type of unreasonable restriction and this same energy bubbles forth in the lobby of a cinema.

So why the comment on bureaucracy that I see clearly was passive aggressive? Perhaps it represents a minor attempt to have a voice, perhaps even an attempt to confront the “powerful other.” My learned strategies as a child combined compliance, confrontation and escape. As an adult I could never be sure which coping mechanism would show up. Perhaps a combination of the three is to be passive aggressive.

Eminent Jungian analyst and author James Hollis suggests, “What is not conscious has a larger influence on us most of the time than that which is conscious. What is not rendered conscious will continue to control us and that which becomes conscious calls us to accountability.”

I guess next time I should take my drivers license with me!


The Soul’s Journey – Slender Threads

November 13, 2021

I came across this term ‘slender threads’ in Jungian psychologist Robert Johnson’s compelling autobiography titled “Balancing heaven and earth”. He describes them as a kind of connective tissue linking one experience to the next through synchronistic events. He went much further in describing that he felt his own life was somehow inspired, guided, and even managed by unseen forces outside his control. He admits this may seem an audacious notion in this time. He suggested that whether we call it fate, destiny, or the hand of God, slender threads are at work bringing coherence and continuity to our lives. He says that over time they weave a remarkable tapestry.

I completely related to this concept. In hindsight I look back over my life and see what appears to be an unseen hand maneuvering circumstances to result in a certain path. Now as a more cynical friend of mine observed it could’ve just been the choices I made that made it look that way. However I believe it’s more than that. You can’t create synchronicity by will, it just happens. Whether it comes from some unexplained external force or perhaps it is an aspect of my own unconscious is still a mystery to me. But I have learned I don’t need to understand in order to appreciate. I came across a wonderful quote by psychiatrist and theologian Gerald May who suggested that “the unique reality of mystery is that mystery can be experienced, appreciated, and even lived without being understood.”

Recently I introduced this concept to my spiritual guidance group and to help illustrate it I reviewed the series of improbable threads that resulted in a senior advertising executive – a workaholic, an atheist, entirely focused on his own wants and needs to become a spiritual coach.

It began with an entirely unwelcome and unexpected opportunity at work. The background was that someone had been recruited to take on a particular job with a client who was unhappy with the existing management supervisor. It was the single largest account that the agency had and was engaged in a competitive review. The new person did not show up and there was a desperate need to fill the role and the only warm body available was me. I was asked to leave the clients that I managed which included Chevron, Pharmasave, Molson, Blackcomb Mountain and BC Tourism and turn them over to my colleague. To me it felt a bit like leaving the safety of my cruise ship and being asked to take over on the Titanic as the captain had abandoned ship. I politely declined hoping that would be that however I was on the receiving end of a severe tirade. “Your cushy life is over whether you like it or not.” Fortunately I had an obligation at the dentist that gave me a chance to lick my wounds.

At the dentist I thought of a compromise- I would agree to take over the additional account in addition to everything else I already controlled; in return I would be promoted to director of client services and they had to trust me to manage the situation. Hopefully this would safeguard me against failure and ensure my future promotion as my boss was going to retire.

Somewhat to my surprise and perhaps disappointment my foolhardy proposal was accepted and the die was cast. The good news is that I was successful at the new job, (somewhat to the surprise of the COO who told me a year later that he never really thought I was the right person for the job). The bad news was that one year later this bizarre transition had a completely unexpected consequence. The new client decided to move their head office from beautiful Vancouver to Calgary and wanted me to provide service in that city. I flatly refused to move but offered a compromise. I would spend three days of each week away from Vancouver. So I had a flat in Calgary, an office in both cities and every Tuesday afternoon I would head to the airport returning on Friday. It was a crazy way to live and had unforeseen consequences.

I will draw a veil over the events in Calgary due to a sense of shame and embarrassment. Suffice it to say that it offered fertile ground for my mid-life crisis and within two years I had quit my job, my wife and friends, booked two first class tickets around the world and went traveling for a year with my much younger girl friend.

It was an amazing if challenging experience and at some time during the trip, actually in Berne in Switzerland, we agreed that if we survived the year together we would get married. Somehow we did but it seemed touch and at times. I learned just how much a bad hairdo can impact someone. However we did not live happily ever after. The final thread was that after eighteen months of marriage she told me the relationship was over. I found myself abandoned, all my plans trashed and feeling without hope for the future. Yet as many Jungian analysts would predict this traumatic experience resulted in a complete re-evaluation of my life and the start of yet another unlikely journey that eventually resulted in me becoming a spiritual coach.

The improbable slender threads: the new hire not turning up, the acceptance of my audacious offer, the move to Calgary, the world trip then her leaving me. – all leading to a complete transformation. Was this the fulfillment of a plan or just a series of coincidences? Perhaps it saved my life. An astrologer said that my chart indicated that if I had failed to change my life I could have “left the body” in my fifties.

One of the members of my group could completely relate to this concept as she looked back on her own long life and realized that certain events concerning relationships that were completely beyond her control led to an amazing life of service to children and their families in Vancouver’s Children’s Hospital.

A few years ago I attended a conference in Petaluma, California where three teachers presented their stories. Each one of them observed on the power of this guiding force to positively effect their unfolding lives. As Jungian analyst and author James Hollis commented, “If we open to this possibility of an invisible and dynamically active world, we then live in a mystery anew, a prospect both inviting and daunting.”


The Soul’s Journey – Tending To The Soul

October 26, 2021

“Perhaps it is time for me stop seeing the soul as a thing but as wonderful metaphor for my deepest self to support meaning and development on life’s journey. Soul becomes assumed based on the principles of depth psychology but requires attention to flourish. I encountered something I wrote regarding the soul back in 2013 that inspired me long before this blog, “as you feed me so shall I blossom.” It now has a new sense of mystery attached to it. So with a renewed sense of confidence I can begin to write again.”

So with this insight and inspiration on soul I freed myself from the anchor that had been holding me back and I began to write again. Reviewing my previous blog raised some curiosity about the past 25-years. I realized that I had begun attending to the soul without really knowing it. In 1993 I began to meditate more as a tool of stress management than anything else yet I sense it stimulated something deep within me. From that time on I began to experience features of an inner life I had never previously imagined. In hindsight I believe it began a process of awakening my intuition.

Julia Cameron in her beautiful book Blessings states, “Synchronicity, coincidence, reinforcement and serendipity – these are friendly companions that speak to me clearly of higher realms”. I would add to this dreams, metaphor, signs and symbols. Since I began this journey of finding meaning in my life, I have counted over thirty such experiences that have reinforced my belief in our inner guidance system and helped guide me onward. (Ironically before 1993 I have almost no recollection of such things although I suspect they may have occurred and I was unaware.) Some were so powerful like my psychic love affair that they had long lasting impact. I have kept a record of them all and title them Moments of Awe and Wonder. Each became a reinforcement and affirmation of earlier experiences and they continue to inspire me during times of confusion.

I realize it all starts by having an intention but then requires paying attention. They became a living experience of John O’Donahue’s perspective that if we allow time for soul we will come to a sense of its dark and luminous depth. What started with meditation expanded to include studying dreams, exploring signs and synchronicity, walking in appreciation of beauty, reading poetry, listening to sacred music, visiting sacred spaces, contemplation, soul focused retreats, reading oracles, morning reading and contemplation on being and writing on soul and the deep heart.

As I began to pay attention, more and more of the magical and mysterious began to show up. Some seemed inconsequential but others more powerful. What they all had in common was that they made no sense to my rational thinking. As James Hollis once observed, ” my rational side is still confounded by these offenses to our Western notions of causality”.

I have learned to accept there are certain rules to these experiences,

1) They are generally to be acknowledged as supportive of my inner journey not the ego’s desires. I don’t own them; they are numinous in that they approach me. I have to let go of any expectations that I am the architect or that I create them.

2) As I experience them rather than create them, I must accept them as gifts to be appreciated and released. They become affirmations on the amazing nature of the mystery and help me to accept that which makes no sense to my rational mind.

3) They can provide guidance and support at various stages of the journey yet they are temporary signposts. Once the gift has been received and acknowledged they don’t return in the same form.

4) No-one can really learn from another’s mystical experiences. I sense that each of us to honour the wisdom of our own deeper selves.