Expert Witness

Workshops are full of people who think they are experts, they think they know what’s best for us when they often hardly know what’s best for themselves. Such is life, and we eventually forgive those steeped in codependent armour, as well as ourselves for not speaking up while spoken too. I think that the only expert that works longterm is our OWN experience, and since we are often dismissive of ourselves, we dismiss the value of our input. When we witness honesty and emotion from deep sharing of others it can provoke vibrative memory of buried treasure, and help us to dig further within our psyche in order to achieve forgiveness. This is the real energy behind workshops and seminar probing.

Robin Norwood who wrote Women Who Love Too Much, set herself up as expert and ten years after forgave herself by writing WHY ME, WHY THIS, WHY NOW – A Guide to Answering Life’s Toughest Questions, when her life car crashed. She experienced true humility by going public and sharing this experience of falling off ivory towers. Within my 20 year journey of leading workshops I have heard amazing truths revealed, including incest, which plugs in the whole training.

She writes the following about an abuser.

” To truly forgive requires that we truly understand. We must be able to look clearly at the whole picture, recoil from none of it, deny none of it, accept it all. In a way this means that we must become EXPERTS regarding which that we must forgive, seeing all sides, not just our own.

An example : I was in a workshop on the treatment of incest many years ago when, halfway through the morning, one of the participants identified himself as an aggressor who had sexually abused his daughter. For a long moment there was a stunned silence. Then he went on to describe his incarceration, the therapy he and his family had received, and his recovery of many years duration.

He now counseled male offenders incarcerated for the same offences he had committed. With his wife and daughter, he participated in group discussions for the families of these men. His honesty created an environment that allowed other workshop participants to talk about their own experiences with sexual abuse.

Because he modeled courage and dignity and humility as well as honesty, he made it easier for some of the therapists in the room who were also incest victims to gain more understanding of the person who had violated them. We stopped interacting as professionals and became EXPERTS instead, drawing on our EXPERIENCE as we struggled to understand this human problem. Such understanding, when achieved, leads eventually to forgiveness – and forgiveness is the final step in our healing.

Through forgiveness we are forgiven. “

In sharing our deepest shames we dissolve the pain of holding on. I have attracted many women and men over two decades who are adult survivors of child abuse and used Rebirthing Breathwork to gently bring them back to feelings without overwhelm, recovery without self loathing, hope without silence. In 1992 my brother went to prison for pleading guilty to abusing his step daughter for 5 years. I had to forgive him, but closed the door on future contact as he was not ready to take responsibility for his actions. I left a contact number but no call has been dialed. Not my stuff.

I sometimes wonder where he is, whether his alcoholism rebirthed his life or whether amends have been made. Sometimes we don’t need to know.

Please Release Me

One of my pre-teenage memories of shame involved a launderette. I must have been 12 or so and Mums copper ( an archaic washing machine ) at home broke down so we trooped off to the local machine wash. My first embarasment involved both of us not knowing how to operate the machine – convinced that the whole launderette was watching us fumble. The shame of it all. The pain of public failure. Then THE most shaming thing happened. My mum opened the machine front loader and we both STARED at a very clean and hot used condom sitting all on it’s own in the metal drum. Silence kills. Do we remove it? or move to another machine having put the money in?

We called the service lady and shame clouded over in a flash as she fished it out with rubber gloves for all to see. Heads ducked down, papers read, windows were scoured and lips pursed. On another occasion when I was 16 we had moved to a new house and friends of my parents stayed for the weekend so mum & dad gave them their bedroom and so they slept on the PUT-U-UP in the lounge. In the morning I helped them fold the bed up and we STARED again at a torn Durex wrapper on the carpet. Can you imagine? They were still ” doing it “. The shame of it all.

In their book : Letting Go of Shame/Understanding How Shame Affects Your life – Ronald & Patricia Potter-Efron explain about shame being a universal emotion. ” Shame temporarily disconnects people from each other. For example, women in America and many other societies will often modestly look away when they notice someone showing sexual interest in them, even if they are interested in the other person. The message they may be giving ( only under certain circumstances, of course ) is that their sexuality is too powerful to openly express in public. Similarly, people will ordinarily avoid eye contact when a situation threatens to become too potent ”

This made me think how we interchange with each other on the London underground trains, the place where no-one speaks except crack heads, beggars or anyone from Spain.The British culture prefers to ” look away ” to avoid upset, confrontation or shame. Now good old British shame is no different from American shame or Swedish shame ( however – the Italians ARE shameless – look at the revolving governments ) and if fear is universal then shame follows close behind.

John Bradshaw talks about the core of codependency being ” toxic shame ” developed and nurtured from family of origin. Until we release our innermost shames we can never be free. We create our own prison cell. Anyone in 12 Step Recovery will understand 4th Step value or simply the release of sharing. This is all therapy is – letting go with love. It is also about booting out judgement and guilt – the mafia of the mind.

Next time you get on the Underground ( tube train ) use it as a meditation space. Watch and see who avoids your eye contact, be observant and recognise that you are part of these peoples lives, you hold a place, there is no separation of humanity. By observing others you observe yourself and by practicing the art of full eye contact when listening or speaking, you find more clarity within yourself. This is the antidote to shame. And next time you like someone who stares back at you in a sexy way – for christ sake SMILE not hide away. It costs nothing.

I am not suggesting you travel the tube or walk the streets with the smile of someone with the look of community care or just found Jesus but I am suggesting that you focus on each opportunity to drop shame and fear. Shame takes a long time to dissolve so erase the hasty cure with small bites, note each day where and when shame arises and use that powerful mantra FEEL IT, CLAIM IT, DUMP IT. Recovery is not about how much shame you have but how long you hold on to it once noted, so find a spiritual launderette to wash, spin & open up your heart to light.

Time Waster

You may find you spend hours each day, or lie awake at night, worrying about your situation. You may torture yourself worrying where a certain person is and with whom.

You may go over and over the past, reminding yourself of the pain, or recounting every detail in an episode or project you have on-going, projecting a problem before it appears. Living this way is addictive for many – it’s called OBSESSION. There are all kinds of obsessive fixations, using WORK as the only way to feel good about oneself is one example, needing peoples approval is another or continuously thinking you are right is not an obvious fixation, but we all know someone who refuses to be wrong. In fact they are obsessively RIGHT.

An athlete can be obsessed about winning but this may not be an unhealthy fixation because the obsession holds a positive destination. Worrying about a friends health holds no purpose at all except to show them that you care at the cost of losing your own marbles. ” I was worried sick “, what’s the point of that? A total time waster. Showing you care holds many a stance, and can often be a subconscious game of manipulation and control. Caring for a sick friend healthily can mean just being available, or telling it like it is, tough love if required. I was told in my early days of recovery by a woman who genuinely cared for me, enough to say ” stop whining looking for sympathy “. It wont work. If that’s what you want look in the dictionary between shit and syphilis, that’s where you will find sympathy, and she was not wrong.

But Obsession does serve a purpose, even if it gives an illusion of power and control over life. Some people even see worry as an essential task and a visible sign of consideration. Scheming revenge, planning punishment and holding onto pain and resentment is a full time career for some people we know. The purpose of obsession is to be worn out by it, in final surrender of this futile practice. Letting go is not natural to the serial wounded. Fear of loss of control and the rise of omnipotence delivers compulsive behaviour, because the ego insists you ” do something ” rather than feel helpless, yet helplessness is the path to forgiveness and peace. Victimhood of the past or present moment stops you from solving the past or present moment simply because we have been trained to fight and struggle. Even the first sentence of Scott Peck’s THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED says ” Life is difficult”. It goes on to further : This is the great truth, one of the greatest truths ( The first of the “Four Noble Truths” which Buddha taught was ” Life is suffering “. ) Peck goes on to say : It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact of life is difficult no longer matters. And worrying about it – even less.

So the purpose of obsession is to transcend it.

Rehab will tell you that you can’t get well until you realise how sick you are. To paraphrase Peck : Once you let go of the problem, you find solution, which is why we need to let go of obsessional time-wasting demands that serve no purpose at all – like worry. Pecks conclusion to life as a series of problems is DISCIPLINE. Not the cold shower treatment or a scarcity diet but simply the simple adage that ” discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. Without discipline we can solve nothing. With only some discipline we can solve only some problems. With total discipline we can solve all problems “. Discipline simply means “to focus”.

In order to run the race of our life many think we need to be tarnished with an obsession, the obsession to get in the driving seat to tackle the Life Road head on, driving like a lunatic until we crash. It may be a minor scrape or a complete turnaround of the vehicle, no matter, the fact is that you have survived the journey to eventually become a back seat driver. Never to get in the front seat again.This is the magnificent obsession, the one to hold and cherish as a spiritual athlete, no longer needing to be in charge of the steering wheel. Yes we need to do footwork, which includes trust, but the destination is irrelevant.

Marianne Williamson wrote in her book A RETURN TO LOVE : ” Gods plan works, yours doesn’t “. This is why it’s wise to focus on the moment and not a goal in 5 years time.  It doesn’t stop me creating goals, it’s good to focus on a project, but it does stop me worrying about the destination. When I look back over the mind blowing moments of my life they were never of MY creation – a phone call, a social connection, an opportunity all ” came my way ” while I was doing something else. On one level I created it, but only because I was willing to receive without demand.

My favourite lesson in A Course In Miracles is “I will stand back and let Him lead the way”.

Him” can be any spiritual energy you choose, I choose Haidakhan Babaji as my Master influence, my business manager, my mentor. He drives, I sit and witness the journey free of worry, free of timespan and free of anxiety. But it does require discipline to banish the ego and its mischief to avoid spiritual demand. This is the real work.


I vont to be alone.

There is some debate as to whether Greta Garbo actually said ‘I want to be alone’ in the MGM film GRAND HOTEL. She is famously quoted as saying : I never said, ” I want to be alone”. I only said ” I want to be left alone . There is all difference”. Pedantic or not, Garbo knew that the devil was in the detail. Being alone, being lonely and being isolated are all different strands of the seemingly same string. Tried and tested recovery material states that an addict alone is bad company. I guess that is because the ego as companion can weave many tales from the committee in the head, while convincing you of the value of self-sufficiency.

Corinne Sweet in her book OVERCOMING ADDICTION writes an excellent piece on this.

” Isolation is the root of all addiction. We can feel that nobody understands us, nobody really cares and that we have to fight our corner on our own. Isolation means retreating into ourselves, not believing that anyone is out there for us, and that everyone else had it easy. When you give up your addictions, for good, you necessarily have to give up isolation. This means looking around yourself and asking for help. This can be terrifying, especially if you have always done everything for yourself and don’t believe other people are there for you. You may feel that other people could not cope with your needs ( or deny them altogether ) because you don’t want to risk being disappointed. You will only stay free for good if you decide to give up your isolation – no matter how desirable it seems to hang on to it – if you ask for, seek out, even demand, continuing positive support. “

For those who can afford to be alone without self harming, eating slabs of chocolate in one go or risking boredom might suggest that recovering obsessives & compulsives aren’t safe to be left alone, when in fact the recovery process teaches the difference between being alone, feeling lonely or teenage bedroom isolation. If only the rest of society has access to such learned material we would all benefit. In a relationship men are often accused of ” being moody ” when half the time they want to be left alone, need space to be alone and can’t express it so they just clam up. The most healthy relationships have a holiday period built in so each partner can holiday alone, be it a week or a weekend. To most people that’s not ” being in a relationship “. What’s the point of giving your ALL to someone and they want to lie on a beach ALONE. It’s not what they signed up for.

Well the point of this interdependent arrangement is that we do need space alone to re-find ourselves, to create courage sometimes to tell our truth to ourselves first, and then the partner. Every relationship needs air in it, but many are in a unsteady relationship because of fear of being alone, which is another kettle of fish – a kettle called codependency. This misguided vision of romantic love works well until they leave you, then you have to play the hunting game all over again to feel whole. So the prospect of traveling alone, living alone or working alone is as fearful as a gambler missing the bet..

So the thread of today’s blog is to recall the last time you went somewhere on your own.

It took me ages to go to the cinema or theatre alone. It’s essential to get rid of the johnny no mates concept, people are so absorbed in their own self obsession that they aren’t interested in who is sitting in row D. Trust me. Learning to be with yourself alone, to give yourself attention, to use the space for solitude or meditation of any kind will serve you well in future. Taking a train ride to the nearest stretch of water, kicking stones on a beach or witnessing ducks play is all part of your further education.

Now if you will excuse me, I vont to be alone.

Love & pain & the whole damn thing

” In the quest for wholeness, paradox is at every turn. It is true that we cannot realise our wholeness as long as we deny any fragment of ourselves. If we seek to avoid fear or pain or sadness, we will simultaneously block the love and joy and laughter from our awareness. That pain, fear or sadness contains great stores of energy, which can be released for potent creative and constructive use only after it is consciously felt and thus allowed to integrate. A truly healthy person, one who has power over themselves and their own life, is courageous enough to become willing to experience whatever life has in store. “

I read these words by Christina Thomas in 1989 when I was once again in liver failure, back in hospital and losing the plot. Christina is a Rebirther and student of A Course In Miracles ( ACIM ) and since Rebirthing Breathwork had halted progression of chronic active Hepatitis B for me, I was eager to enter the unknown to seek solution. I was in emotional turmoil, a close friend had been murdered the year before, the loss of people around me dying from Aids was approaching 50 people and there was no cure for my Hep B condition. I felt slain in more ways than one, yet I had stayed stopped from smoking, drinking and drugging for 7 years, so something was working. I had halted relationships as all I attracted was people who thought I was brave, and did nothing to meet my emotional needs or just smothered me with their own fear of me dying. The only relationship I was interested in was within my body and the spiritual strength to survive it.

Recognising my wholeness – warts n all – was my saviour. I may have felt damaged but knew that feelings weren’t facts – the body is only casement for the soul. It was at this point that I found, was given, or came across the affirmation ” God is my business Manager “.

Having had good instruction since 1982 in 12 Step Programme Recovery work I had blown away all the religious cobwebs associated with ” god stuff “. Thankfully I was not brought up a catholic or another dominating religion, so I could free spirit ” my god “. In the end I chose Babaji who entered my life in 1988, reading about Leonard Orr, Sondra Ray and Rebirthing Breathwork. That sat with me well and I have not altered this vision over 20 years later.

One of the lessons in ACIM is ” I will stand back and let him lead the way ” and when you are on deaths door that feels apt, in my experience. The big problem occurs when we have recovered, when the creative mind is once again alert to ego demands like making up for lost time. These days I am no longer dazed by circumstance but amazed by results. When I focus on MY part in the great jigsaw of life, all is well. In order to develop ongoing recovery one learns to face everything rather than sweep under the carpet of fear. This sense of wholeness is as refreshing as completing a whole bunch of paperwork for the accountant or finally clearing out that cupboard. It is a paradox that in order to accept my wholeness I need to accept my flaws – the loves, the pains and the whole damn thing. This is true spiritual embrace, a detox of the ego.

You may want to consider today how you ask for help and who you turn to and whether self punishment is still part of your inner curriculum. Self punishment is simply suicide compared to the pains that life throws at us. At least with life pains we can learn. Just think how fast the last two years have passed. Two years ago recession was feared, the worst since the depression. In retrospect we have all learnt something from this period of global cutback including the harsh reality that we have more than we need around us – should we seek it – that old habits can be changed and that confronting the worst, the death of something actually breeds life, energy and hope.

The Elephant In the Room

It’s easy to think that we need to ” go away ” in order to find ourselves, to sort ourselves out, to find solace. This kind of thinking has kept the Holistic Spa industry going for years. Glossy pics on internet travel sites are one click away from serenity, such is the lure for escape and instant gratification when exhaustion strikes. These commercial dealers offering hot stones, soft white towels and silence by the pool are as enticing for work addicts as a dealer is for junkies and we fall for it every time.

The problem is not where we are running ” to” but what we are running ” from ” but when the going gets tough the quick fix trip hits the vein of relief.

Treatment Centres call this ” doing a geographical “. In fairness it usually applies to people who winge about where they are now, and up-sticks for a new start elsewhere, taking themselves and their problems with them.

Drunks, as example, are very good at this, not that they have ” a problem ” of course – they just ” enjoy ” a drink and everyone’s on their back. They just chose the wrong job, wrong partner or wrong flatmate so you can understand why taking a massive leap of anger somewhere is so thrilling after all that victimhood. Been there – done it myself – until the blame game had to stop. For people who use alcohol or substances moderately this may not make sense but replace alcohol with WORK and you get the gist. More people are addicted to a work identity than drunks to alcohol. It becomes who they are.

Getting away from work pressure is easy when you know how, but you may not know that YOU could be the elephant in the room, the problem no one talks about to your face. Our own defects of character pale into comparison with everyone else’s but until we check out OUR emotional obstacles we shall forever remain the bitch in Accounts, the boss that doesn’t listen and the loner at lunch. Like a man in a bad wig it’s unlikely anyone will tell you.

It is so very wrong to consider therapy in a CRISIS – you don’t rush to the gym in a crisis, you have a routine for it and so it is with life management. Finding time out for self repair is essential in this fast moving internet age. When no-one wants to socialise with you after work it’s either because you are still at work and can’t leave or your workaholicism is breeding more personality defects, the ones all can see except the culprit. The problem may be that you ” enjoy ” work too much. Fear is a great leveller when it comes to job loss projection, even more so now in world recession, so all the more reason to ” get away ” to a space of strength, to recover lost positivity and end fearful projections. Office life is like a zoo and elephants abound. Don’t bring domestic issues into the workplace, don’t tell anyone about your salary rise, don’t take too long for lunch and don’t  . .

Rules and secrets abound so the urge to OM in India, to be draped in toweled robes after a mud bath is soothingly attractive after a shit week but a crap day can be turned around in 10 minutes if you seek it. TRY THIS.

Working too hard?  Go for a walk. Call a friend. Find a Park. Find a bench. Look up at the sky. Find trees. You don’t need to go far. Buy a bag of chips. Walk toward water. Sit with eyes closed and breathe deeply. This easy stuff gets buried in the mayhem.

Or go to the Zoo, find the Elephant House and ponder on what’s off-track.

Happy Endings

Who knows what people will turn into once settled into marriage or civil union – will he wander, will she go off sex?

These fears are small beer indeed compared to the fear of finding another drunk, addict or gambler for someone who has the unhappy knack of fishing for fools. If Dad was a drunk, some women can have the inner magic of finding a drunk male substitute to love & marry. If Dad was a gambler it’s easy to find a man whose unpredictable behaviour feels ” just right “, after all it’s the excitement of not knowing what’s going to happen, that keeps your spirit alive.

If mum was depressive and snappy because her doctor stopped the prescription drugs it will be easy to find someone to spar with on the emotional front because it’s just what you are used to, and what you are used to becomes a blueprint for survival.

Take a look at any old school group photo of smiling kids. Can you guess who will turn out to have the longest marriage, the shortest life, the addictive personality? When a recovering person decides to check out their addictions, attachments and codependencies it’s easy to think that they are the ones having to work hard catching up with the rest of so-called respectable society. Many years ago I read a corporate report that stated “recovering alcoholics make better than average workers”. How can this be? A very small percentage of the population look at themselves, most spend time observing the habits of other people but drunks, drinking or in recovery, discovered that observing other people only made the situation worse. Resentments build and excuses flow to justify and enable a continuing addictive pattern, not exactly the route to personal responsibility, amends made and feelings checked, that is suggested for emotional balance. Learning to respond, rather than re-act to other peoples behaviour is vital for continued codependency recovery.

Recovering Alcoholics in a 12 Step Programme make better than average workers because they adhere to a new way of working after experiencing personal rock bottoms, act out gratitude on a daily basis, realise the need to demolish the ego and when they are wrong promptly admit it.

How many people in your life do that?

When the wedding pics are taken it’s hard to imagine the abuse that can follow or the fear of abuse returning. Robin Norwood’s book WOMEN WHO LOVE TOO MUCH way back in 1986 pioneered the realisation that good girls can choose bad guys, again & again. Recovering people also need to be aware of there own track record before they started observing themselves in detail. The reality is that no one knows whether you are going to get hitched to a drunk again, or find another person to rescue, someone who uses you as their own private bank but you can take steps to weed out the obvious candidates. In my experience it always pays to tell the truth FASTER. When selecting friends, lovers or future partners, always be clear about what you want ( by stating what you DON’T want sometimes ), and being upfront, rid yourself the desire to clam up about the past, buying into shame. Though focussing on the present moment can be taken too literally, if denial is companion. People who have grown up in a family where someone dominates the energy by anger, alcohol, depression, drug use, verbal, physical or sexual abuse need to be extra aware of relationship pitfalls. Being aware of a new friend or partners behaviour does not mean double checking everything they say and do, so lighten up, nor does it work to seek perfection. However as a recovering addict/alcoholic/codependent I would not want a relationship with anyone whose parents had similar backgrounds to my own addictive patterns. This is because I don’t want to be a teaching tool in a relationship, I would rather choose someone without an addictive background or be without a coupling. The whole point of fixing yourself is that eventually you find people who don’t need fixing.

I hear many people say ” we are working on our relationship ” as if the relationship is a therapy session. They say that love brings up everything unlike itself – I get this – but many relationships are simply a protection from the past, thus they remain in constant conflict in order to ” learn the lesson “. Maybe the lesson is GET OUT NOW. In most cases I would advise those people to fix themselves instead of the relationship, when this is done you put out a different vibration – one of interdependence – and start attracting totally different energies around people places and things. This is when REAL recovery begins and it starts with you saying NO more often, billing in time away from a partner and acting out frequent updates within the relationship.

The Love Guru

” Some people mistakenly think that if you have a guru or a master, then you have to give your power away. In my experience, nothing could be farther from the truth.


My experience is that the master helps us to achieve our own power and stand on our own two feet; and this happens as fast as you can take it. In the presence of a master we are able to touch our own wholeness and our own perfection faster. As you get closer to the master, you find less of him and more of yourself. The guru is the mirror. Only in this case, it might feel like you see yourself magnified times one thousand or more. It can be very intense, ” You have to face yourself like never before “

from Sondra Ray’s book PURE JOY


Sondra Ray became a master to me  in 1988 when I first encountered the Loving Relationship Training ( LRT ) Breathwork & Coaching Programme in London & Madrid and also for many years after this first encounter. As a Rebirthing Breathwork pioneer she handed down her craft for the benefit of others. Along the way I encountered other mentors who encouraged me to find my own route and my own authenticity and not one said I must follow THEIR doctrines and their practices. Over a 20 year period I have come to believe that surrender is a passionate act of  service.

To surrender the ego to mastery of any kind is sacred. To surrender the notion that you don’t know everything is a joy to behold, instead of holding shame that the ego desires you have, for knowing less. Making mistakes then becomes an amusement instead of forming personal attack in your learning laboratory. You ARE good enough to question, and in my questioning I found myself not to be a disciple but a Master within myself. Sondra offered me the courage to search and breathe toward my own sense of mastery.

Being in therapy or in recovery is uncomfortable. The challenge of looking in a real mirror in front of you and reciting loving affirmations is more than difficult for most, and certainly was for me, in my quest for stemming self harm. I tried many seminars, workshops and self help processes.

One of the most testing ( . . . and I attended at least 3 of these ) was an Enlightenment Intensive lasting 3 days facing another person for 16 hours a day. When facing the person they ask you only one question ” WHO ARE YOU “. In response for 5 mins non stop you answer ” I AM . . . “( followed by a thought, fact or statement about yourself ). There is no discussion, the partner only acknowledges a thank you. In order to facilitate this process the intensive is residential where you are fed on healthy digestable food and 8 hours sleep. You do nothing but the process of sharing, surrendering and being. Every hour you walk in silence for 15 mins before returning to the I AM process for the remaining 3 days. This cleansing can place you in a shamanic trance of clarity and emotional release for healing.

Bob Mandell, co-author of BIRTH & RELATIONSHIPS with Sondra Ray said ” the only guru you need are the results in your life “. This simplicity will tell you what to work on next and whether your present circumstances are a mirror to your inner self. Is it an automatic love you have for yourself? Do you begrudge the flaws you see in the mirror or simply smile at their presence? Do you practice self harming behaviors? Finding a teacher, a coach, a mentor, a sponsor or a therapist is an admission that you require help and an act of surrendering to Win – not surrendering to lose.

Who is your master and who are the apprentices you mentor? What do you pass down to others in search of mastering living sanely in this world? Questions, questions, questions.

Now consider the answers.