Alan Heeks

Nomadic Wisdom: old roots for new futures

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Nov 172021

Probably all of us are facing a future with a lot more uncertainty, and a lot less control. So what can we learn from people who have been living positively in that condition for thousands of years? By definition, nomads represent an extreme example of this, having no ownership or control of land, very few assets, and being at the mercy of whatever the climate throws at them.

Alan with Ali, one of our Bedouin guides

Some of the most inspiring times of my life were the ten retreat groups I organised in the Tunisian Sahara, travelling by foot and camel with semi-nomadic Bedouin guides. You can see my blogs about these trips here.

These were men born and bred in the desert, as nomads, who in the 1980s had to move to a town because climate change had dried up the shallow wells and springs. They still bred and herded camels in the desert, and they loved my groups because they were back in the life they loved.

The Bedouin are profound teachers by their approach to life. Although their situation is materially tough and basic, they are happy, dignified people. As they sit in a circle in the chilly light before sunrise, they are chatting, lighting the fire, making the bread, tending the camels and singing. I join them and ask myself, “Is this work time or social time?”, knowing that this is a western mindset and the question would be meaningless to them. Their songs move seamlessly from praise of Allah through romantic ballads to children’s play songs. Their days really are a flowing dance uniting, work, spirit, fellowship and recreation. Because of some of them speak good French, this is a rare chance to share the life and culture of people who are still within the semi-nomadic tradition.

You might think that losing the nomad life, living quite poorly in a town, would leave them despairing or bitter, but it hasn’t. They are some of the most happy, resilient people I’ve met. Around a campfire under a million stars, we’d ask why. They said, “You may be rich in things, but we are rich in our families.” Beside their deep, tribal sense of community, I could see that they had roots in their love for the desert, and in their faith, in Islam. A friend who works in Palestine says this is all true there.

Physical navigation in the desert is very difficult: there are no roads, and very few features you can put on a map.  If you go into the desert with native Bedouin guides, as I have done many times, they never use a map or compass. They navigate the desert as their forebears did in Old Testament times. They literally know the desert like the back of their hand: every dune and contour, every stump of palm or odd shaped rock, they can distinguish and steer by. My guess is that the Bedouins’ love for this land nourishes them so deeply because it feels like a reciprocal relationship: their intimate knowledge of the land, their rapport with its fragile ecosystems, enables them to navigate the desert, and even harvest from it, in the sense of finding grazing for their camels.

On most of my retreats, we had 24 hours where the visitors went into silent, solo time. On one trip, I had a friend who is an organic farmer in Surrey: he said he spent a lot of time on his farm alone and in silence, and would rather spend this time living with the Bedouin. This gave him and me a deeper sense of how they operate as a community: they seem more like a group, and less like individuals than westerners, and they moved seamlessly from one combined task to the next.

It is probably no coincidence that Islam originated in the desert, and that the Prophet Mohammad organised camel caravans before he received divine inspiration. I have studied Islamic teachings enough to see their beauty, and their relevance to a life without control. The Fateha, the Islamic equivalent of the Lord’s Prayer, celebrates the idea of divine unity, recognises a bigger power than the human individual, and calls upon that power for compassion, guidance and inspiration.What might be called the spiritual resilience of the Bedouin is well worth exploring further: if this interests you, see my blog on Desert Wisdom: the book and the nomads.

Book blog: The Wild Edge of Sorrow by Francis Weller

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Oct 042021

Subtitle: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief

You may have noticed, as I have, a growing number of grief tending workshops, grief rituals and similar events in recent years. What’s your reaction to them? I admit that mine has been a mix of mild interest and some resistance. Francis Weller is one of the leading American teachers in this field, and this book has the conviction of someone who has worked with groups for over 30 years, and has learned from many good sources, including tribal cultures. This book is not an easy read, because it digs into feelings that many of us bury, but it’s a very worthwhile one. Weller believes that most of us carry a lot more grief, and from a wider range of sources, than we let ourselves acknowledge, and I agree with him. This book is written with a lot of care and respect for the grief we all carry, and it is an excellent guide to this difficult territory.

This book offers a useful map of five gates of grief. The first is familiar: Everything we love, we will lose. The second is probably less familiar: The places that have not known love. This means the feelings and parts of ourselves that we have shut down and pushed away: the places associated with shame, trauma, and what he calls soul loss.

The third gate is the sorrows of the world. This is probably familiar to most of us, but he helpfully explains why this grief is so powerful in our times. He quotes the psychiatrist R. D. Laing describing us all as “Stone Age children”. Weller goes on: Our entire psychic, physical, emotional, and spiritual makeup was shaped in the long evolutionary sweep of our species. Our inheritance includes an intimate and permeable exchange with the wild world. It is what our minds and bodies expect.”

Weller’s fourth gate of grief is an intriguing one: What we expected and did not receive. This includes our ‘longing to belong’: he beautifully describes visiting Malidoma Somé’s village in Burkina Faso. He writes: “Every night near dusk, people would gather in the common area and share their day…. Children were there as well, weaving in and out of conversations, playing until they lay down and drifted into sleep…. Imagine how profoundly that would impact us, if we knew that we were welcome in any home and to find sustenance at any fire.” This gate is also about our hopes of fulfilling our gifts and potential, and being recognised for them, and our desire for a sense of oneness with all life, not just human. We need to recognise how far from this most modern life has moved.

The fifth gate is ancestral grief: I share his view that most of us carry unresolved traumas of many kinds from the generations before us, who rarely had the time and skills to resolve them. This is an extra weight that many of us carry, but at least recognising it is a first step to discharging it.

Weller regards ritual as a vital element in processing grief: he gives good examples of how this was used in different ways in tribal societies, and how we can use it in our modern times. He sees the crucial dynamics in ritual as being to provide both containment and release, and ‘making the repressed visible’.

If grief was a country, you could say that this book is an excellent guide to its heartlands, to what they contain, and how to access them. But even with a good guide like this, I feel it needs a lot of strength and courage to journey into these heartlands. In some of my groups, I explore the frontiers of this terrain, using processes like The Work that Reconnects, which provides a contained way to start feeling our grief, rather than a complete plunge into the depths. If this topic interests you, this book gives you an excellent sense of different ways to start your journey, and what that journey may entail.

Soul Resilience Retreat

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Sep 022021

How your core self can help you grow through storms

Feb 25-27, 2022 at Hazel Hill Wood near Salisbury
With Alan Heeks and Jane Sanders

As life gets more turbulent, we need to go higher and dig deeper to find a quantum step up in our resilience. This retreat is a chance to explore how the deep wisdom of your soul can help you to stay centred and positive, and clarify your purpose: why your soul has chosen to be here in a time of huge change.

The intention for this retreat is to create a deep space for soul exploration, with guided processes, sharing time, and solo periods to reflect, renew, and draw insights from soul, spirit and Nature. We aim to support resilience for challenges of all kinds, from personal and family, through work and community, to the global climate emergency. We will offer a different, soul-based approach to good climate response processes: Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects, and Deep Adaptation. The ingredients will include:

  • Finding your own sense of your soul, and creating a dialogue.
  • Ways to deepen soul connection, including calling on a guide, Nature immersion, sacred chants, group support, dreams, and Gaia connection.
  • Creating a safe container for slow, deep listening to the interconnections of all life, including spirit and nature.
  • Why am I here? Find your soul’s view on how to live with and grow through climate crisis.
  • Helping soul and body to cohabit, and create shared resilience.
  • Nourishing the soul, individually and collectively, as a key to everyday resilience.

Alan Heeks has been exploring resilience, climate responses, and the soul’s journey for many years. He is a widely experienced group and retreat leader, whose interest in soul resilience has grown as a positive response to the climate crisis. See and

Jane Sanders has over 25 years’ experience in working with a mindfulness-based approach to wellbeing with groups and individuals, and draws on ecospirituality, deep ecology, rewilding and Nature immersion.

Hazel Hill: is a magical 70-acre conservation woodland and retreat centre, 7 miles from Salisbury. It has simple, yet beautifully crafted off-grid wooden buildings with lovely indoor and outdoor group spaces, heated accommodation in bedrooms (or camping), good hot showers and compost loos. See more about the wood at


Start time: 4pm on Friday February 25, finishing after lunch at 2pm on Sunday February 27.

Price: £260 including single bedroom, food and facilitation. Concessions £220. We will be asking everyone to help with practical tasks such as washing up, lighting stoves, etc.

Covid: Covid precautions will include: 1-metre distancing when indoors, all single bedrooms, holding group sessions outdoors where possible. Everyone is asked to do a lateral flow test before coming to the group.

Booking: For bookings or enquiries, please contact Alan on or 07976 602787.

Learning to Unlearn

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Aug 262021

Yes, it’s a paradox, but our ways of thinking, our habitual responses, are so deeply set that a deliberate effort of unlearning is needed if we want to see things as they are, and be able to find a fresh response.

I’ve been exploring Sufi teachings for over thirty years, and they’re a great aid in unlearning. One of the early books that inspired me was The Last Barrier, by Reshad Feild. It’s a moving, personal tale of his search for a Sufi teacher.

Reshad’s teacher is tricksy, elusive, constantly forcing him to unlearn, to live with ignorance. The teacher at one point actually tells him, “the purpose of the Path is to bring a man to the point of bewilderment.” Although the book was published in 1976, it’s very relevant in the current crises.

Another body of Sufi wisdom is poetry. Dip into Rumi, Hafiz, Shabistari, and you’re constantly opened up by paradox and insights that feel totally fresh, even though they date from the thirteenth century. For example:

Penetrate the heart of one drop of water 

You’ll be flooded by a hundred pure oceans

The limbs of a fly are like an elephant.

A hundred harvests reside in a germ of barley seed

Cosmic rays lie hidden in the pupil of my eye,

and somehow the centre of my heart

accommodates the Pulse of the Universe

— (Shabistari, translated in Desert Wisdom, N.Douglas-Klotz)

If you want a way to explore the subtleties of Sufi wisdom, The Sufi Book of Life, by Neil Douglas-Klotz is a good start. On page 84, he comments on unlearning, and offers a sound mantra which can help you be open to flashes of insight, “states of grace”.

So much of our upbringing and education tells us we ought to know, we should be on top of the situation. Whereas real life, in ever more forceful ways, is bringing us to the point of bewilderment, and hopefully teaching us to accept the state of not knowing.

Meaning, Purpose, Connection: what does inspiration mean to you?

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Aug 262021

The literal meaning of inspire is to draw in spirit, from the Latin spiritus, signifying both breath and a bigger connection. I know the word spiritual is hard for some people, so replace it with inspirational if you prefer. I’m using it because I believe that spiritual aspects of life and resilience will become more vital for most of us in the years ahead as turbulence grows. I’ve chosen three qualities which inspire me and lift my spirits:

  • Meaning: our sense of meaning in our own life, and the world in general, is badly eroded by the power of fake news and social media. To find meaning, we have to use our intention and seek it at a higher, non-material level: and this includes the meaning of difficulties, worries, setbacks.
  • Purpose: in a market economy, it’s sadly understandable that we’re constantly exposed to messages persuading us that we and our lives are pointless unless we buy Brand X. The best antidote is to find a higher purpose, one which inspires you and serves more than material and personal needs.
  • Connection: consider how your ways of connecting have changed in recent years and even more since covid: more online shopping and messaging, and less face-to-face contacts. Probably your life is more full of technical connections, information, stuff, but fewer connections with people, Nature, purpose and meaning.  A main part of my spiritual life is  feeling the connections between life of all kinds, a sense of fellowship which I find very nourishing and meaningful.

William Bloom is one of the best UK teachers in this field. His books include The Power of Modern Spirituality. In 2015 he started an educational charity, Spiritual Companions Trust, which now has the first fully accredited UK course in this area: a Diploma in practical spirituality and wellness. The website lists a number of resources, with some useful videos and a booklist. See more at

William believes, as I do, that one’s spiritual beliefs need not connect with organised religion or with belief in a deity. He describes three behaviours at the heart of all spiritual paths, whether or not these fit within a named tradition:

  • Connection – with the wonder and energy of life.
  • Reflection – on one’s life and actions, and how to change and improve.
  • Service – a clear sense of what is right and what is wrong, and acting so as to do good for others.

If you’d like to explore inspiration and the spiritual dimension of resilience, here are sources which have helped me:

  1. Nature connection: this is much more than feeling good in greenery. Try feeling at one with the vitality and wisdom in all life, including all of Nature. Imagine there’s a creative desire we share, which can guide us through the climate crisis.
  2. Woodland wisdom and stewardship: there’s a special depth to the connection humans can find with threes and forests. I’ve found this most at Hazel Hill Wood, the conservation and retreat centre I founded. Stewardship is the idea that humans are here to care for and co-create with Nature, not exploit it, and this is a big inspiration for me.
  3. Sufi wisdom: this has helped my sense of purpose and resilience for many years. Its core is seeing divinity in all forms of life, and keeping an open-hearted approach. You can learn more at another of my websites,
  4. Dreams and myth: American eco-philosopher Thomas Berry highlights the importance of dreams (visions of hope), and of changing our myths or prevailing beliefs. He highlights the amazing creative wisdom of Gaia, Planet Earth, in evolving through repeated crises, and the need for humans to connect with this. See more at
  5. Deep ecology: a process created by Joanna Macy, drawing from Native American and Buddhist sources. She believes that most people are pushed into denial and inertia because they can’t process their pain and despair about the state of the Earth. Deep ecology is a powerful way to do this, and involves the support of a group as a key element.

Clearing our negative feelings enables us to find inspiration and a positive vision to engage with the troubles of our times. See more at

Meaning, purpose and connection are more a direction of travel than a destination we reach. They can help our journey through life to be one of discovery and service, even in these turbulent years.

Deep Adaptation and climate change: An intro to the work of Jem Bendell

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Aug 262021

Back in 2018, the sense of urgency about the climate crisis rose sharply, helped by several key voices, including Greta Thunberg, and Professor Jem Bendell. Whilst he strongly supports all efforts to reduce climate change, he cites extensive scientific evidence that it is too late to avoid serious worsening. Jem uses the term Deep Adaptation as a focus for facing and adapting to the major climate and related challenges of the coming years: I agree with his view that we need to find responses which go well beyond resilience in the way it is mostly understood.

Deep Adaptation has attracted widespread support and involvement, and  pushback, some of this from within the environmental movement. Jem’s work highlights the argument between giving people the bad news and alarming outlook full force, or softening the message to avoid turnoff. Both sides in this argument cite experience and psychological research that supports their view. It’s not a debate that can be resolved, but it highlights a key factor: that emotional responses, not factual information, are what limit many people’s engagement with the issue.

As of 2021, Deep Adaptation is best summed up as a large informal network and body of resources (blogs, videos, etc.) which have grown around Jem’s original paper published in 2018. This blog offers my view of the main elements of DA. You can get a good overview and entry routes at To see Jem’s updated version of his original 30-page paper, click here.

One of the many things I value in Jem’s approach is that he acknowledges the deep emotional and spiritual impacts of facing a bleak outlook, and points to ways to process these impacts, including faith, and “a vision of people sharing compassion, love and play.” Having led various groups on Deep Adaptation, I support the view that the first step in engaging with the climate crisis is to face and work through emotional responses, which may include fear, grief, bewilderment, and despair.

I share Jem’s belief that one of the best ways to process these feelings is the Work that Reconnects, initiated by Joanna Macy. Having space to voice your emotions in a supportive group, and have them witnessed, is an alchemical step that enables people to move forward whilst living with their feelings, and I’ve seen it work repeatedly. For my summary of Joanna’s process, click here.

A distinctive part of Jem’s outlook is his belief that societal breakdown is likely in many countries including the UK within the next ten years. The most probable trigger for this is global food shortages. He shares the view of many experts that a Multi Bread Basket Failure is possible anytime from now: this means major crop failure in the same year for the few countries and staples most world population depend on.

Jem’s expectation of societal collapse puts him at the pessimistic end of the climate experts I’m aware of. At the 2019 Findhorn climate change conference (see my blog here), I asked some of these other experts for their view, such as Jonathan Porritt, Vandana Shiva and Charles Eisenstein: they don’t think societal breakdown is likely. My view is that there will be turmoil in many countries, and huge stress on western Europe from refugees, as well as food shortages. I’d hope that the UK can organise food rationing and maintain societal stability: but this will need a lot of preparation. I have commissioned research on how UK food growing can adapt, see research report here. I am also leading pilot work on raising food security in my hometown of Bridport, and we are happy to share what we learn: see more here.

Overall, DA has two major, related strands:

  • Inner adaptation: exploring the emotional, psychological, and spiritual implications of living in a time when societal disruption/collapse is likely, inevitable, or already happening.
  • Outer adaptation: working on practical measures to support wellbeing, ahead of and during collapse (e.g. regenerative living, community-building, policy activism).

One of the most widely used DA frameworks is the 4R’s, summed up here using some quotes from Jem’s original paper:

  • Resilience: recognising what we most want to keep, and skills to do so, including how to handle deep emotions such as fear and grief. Facing the emotional impacts enables us to act more clearly and coherently.
  • Relinquishment: This “involves people and communities letting go of certain assets behaviours and beliefs where retaining them could make matters worse.  Examples include withdrawing from coastlines… or giving up expectations for certain types of consumption”. We need to make voluntary choices where we can.
  • Restoration: This “involves people and communities rediscovering attitudes and approaches to life and organisation that our hydrocarbon-fuelled civilisation eroded.” For example, the mutual support of local communities.
  • Reconciliation: “With what and whom shall we make peace as we awaken to our mutual mortality?” This recognises that the pressures ahead may intensify polarities, extremism, scapegoating, and we need to get beyond them.

The Deep Adaptation approach has attracted widespread support and participation: you can get a flavour of this at the Deep Adaptation Forum here. It has also attracted criticism from various quarters. You can see a good response to this in the article in Deep Ecologist by Naresh Giangrande, who is a Deep Adaptation Advocate, and was previously a leading figure in the Transition Network: see article here. Jem has published a recent blog with his response, and introducing the updated version of the original paper: see more here.

If you start exploring Deep Adaptation online, you can soon feel overwhelmed. So here are a couple of suggestions on where to start.

  • This recent blog by Jem gives an overview in a few paragraphs of how DA has evolved, plus a listing of his blogs, in categories, with links: click here.
  • The Love in Deep Adaptation: a really well-considered piece about the huge focus in Western culture on individual needs and control, and how deep adaptation and rising uncontrollability offers the potential for a return to compassion, curiosity, respect, and love: click here.
  • Notes on Hunger and Collapse: a useful overview of the limited info currently available on food impacts of climate change, plus references: click here.

For a short, 14-minute video of Jem giving the essence of Deep Adaptation, click here; for a fuller, 44-minute version click here. If you want to go deeper into Deep Adaptation, and get actively involved, you can find out more at, and you can also join the Deep Adaptation Forums, including Food & Agriculture, Community Action, and more. You can also contribute to the discussion on Facebook: Jem and Rupert Read have co-edited a book, due out in May 2021, titled Deep Adaptation: Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos, with a range of impressive contributors, which should provide a good overview of this complex and controversial field.

From Before to Beyond: exploring the soul’s journey

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Aug 262021

Life is getting more changeable for most of us.  Many of us these days have to face mortality more directly: perhaps because of our own health, or the passing of a friend or family member.  Sufi teachings and other traditions urge us to face our dying to enrich our living: by getting through fears and denial, we can reach a view of death as a positive transition, and our soul can help us in this process. Exploring the soul’s journey was a weekend retreat on these themes, which I co-led with Jilani Cordelia Prescott in 2015.

One of our reasons for organising this event was a hunch that exploring these topics would be helped by the collective concentration and support of a group, and by having a whole weekend to explore deeply, with a mix of group and solo time, and two nights to sleep and dream.

It can be illuminating to imagine that we have a soul which exists before us and chooses this human lifetime, and the family we’re born into, to provide experiences and learning which it needs.  Believing that the challenges in our life have a positive purpose has helped me hugely, and stops me feeling like a victim of circumstances.  However, finding the positive aspect can be tricky!  The retreat offered various ways to help us to listen to our soul, and seek its guidance on questions about our life, death and beyond.

Before the weekend, we shared a number of questions we hoped to explore, so that the soul and intuition would already be engaged with them. Does some part of us have a life of its own, before and after our time in a human body?  If we call this our soul, why did it choose to experience life through us?  Can it give us some guidance, for this life and beyond?  How can we hear its voice?  Our aim was not to prescribe answers, nor to assume we all shared the same beliefs, but to share teachings and processes, and create a safe space for each person to explore their own answers.

One of our main sources for this weekend was the book ‘The Soul’s Journey’ by Hazrat Inayat Khan, a leading Sufi teacher in the early twentieth century.  He believes that each soul chooses its human life, and is guided by departed souls and angels.  He says that “ignorance of the self gives the fear of death”, and the antidote is to identify more with the soul than the body.  One benefit of drawing on Sufi teachings is that they are un-dogmatic, centred on open-heartedness and a sense of divine unity in all life: so they can fit alongside many other spiritual teachings.

Another main source was the work of Neil Douglas Klotz, who has explored the deeper truth of Christian and other teachings by re-translating them from the original languages.  This often adds great depth of meaning compared to traditional translations.  See more at

Here’s an example of Jesus’s teachings on this topic: “unless a human being returns to that sameness with the cosmos that feels like death – the dark, moist place of birthing, the place where only flow and animating spirit, only water and breathing, exist – that person cannot enter the reign of unity, the “I can” of the cosmos…”  This is Neil’s rendering of John 3:15, in the King James ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”.

The retreat proved to be a powerful, illuminating experience for all of us, with a lot of depth and tenderness. This was partly because mortality was a live, current issue for most of those who came: several had recently been closely involved in supporting a parent or friend who had died, and others were facing that situation in the near future. The level of trust and mutual care which evolved in the group from early on was remarkable, and there was a strong sense of collective wisdom, where we learned from each other, and the atmosphere in the group took us further.

Learning from extremes: hospices

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Aug 262021

In my exploration of resilience, I’ve become interested in what we can learn where this quality is tested to an extreme. Death is a pretty severe test of resilience, not only for the person dying, but for family and professionals, and my research with hospices has been fascinating.

Seeding our Future’s groups on Nourishing the Front Line, aiming to build resilience for health and care workers, has brought me into contact with staff from several hospices. I’ve also learnt a lot from the book The Art of Dying by Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick, which draws on large-scale, structured research with hospices.

My early management training means that I still risk slipping into simplistic problem-solution mode in tough situations. I’ve been impressed at the very different, organic resilience which hospice staff bring to their work. It felt like a continually evolving response, guided by observation not prejudgement.

I was touched by the huge compassion and tolerance which hospice professionals have for their patients and their families. Clearly, this situation brings up intense fear, denial, guilt and many other strong feelings. The key response by staff is what several of them called ‘simple presence’: witnessing feelings with respect and sympathy. One told me, “we always say to student nurses, focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do. It’s the sensitive little things that make a difference.”

Another topic that fascinates me about hospices is how staff sustain their resilience when facing such emotional demands almost continually. It seems that the quality of community and mutual care among staff is central to this: one nurse told me how they will juggle rotas to relieve someone who’s exhausted by an abrasive patients.

Maintaining your emotional boundaries is also key, for example, with the Green Door image: “Your patient can only come so far: beyond that you need to protect yourself.” But I was glad to hear that staff do express their feelings: to each other, when it’s safe. And one nurse said, “we sometimes drive home in tears. We have huge expectations placed on us, and we know we’ll never meet them all.”

An explicit part of resilience in hospices is the spiritual dimension. One chaplain talked to me about ‘centering prayer’ and mindful silence, as practices which could help with staff, patients and families. And it was clear that some deaths are uplifting to be with: where patients reach a calm place about passing over, and feel a contact with loved ones in the afterlife. The Art of Dying confirms that these experiences are quite common.

I believe one reason why hospice staff are resilient is that facing death can help us all value each moment of our life more fully. This was born out on a recent retreat I co-led, Exploring the Soul’s Journey, where we invited our group to try this, and saw how it helped.

Enriching your life through the soul’s voice

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Aug 262021

Although I’ve led many groups and retreats, a recent weekend was one of the edgiest: on the theme Exploring the Soul’s Journey.  My co-leader Cordelia and I both felt nervous about helping people to contact their souls for guidance about good living, good dying, and what my lie beyond.

Our weekend at The Abbey, near Oxford, was a deep, illuminating shared journey for all of us.  Cordelia and I began it by emphasising that we did not offer answers on these delicate questions, merely teachings and processes which might be helpful.  It was clear that a collective journey in a smallish group (fifteen people) enabled all of us to gain insights which took us beyond where we could reach individually, many of them from the experience of others in the group.

One factor in this was our use of Dances of Universal Peace, a form of moving mediation using sacred chants.  Over the past three years, Cordelia and I have led a range of groups where we have successfully used these Dances to enable a group to build trust, and deepen their connection to spiritual guidance in some way.

Dance, walking, meditation and sound mantras all proved peaceful ways to move people beyond everyday awareness and into a profound conversation with their soul.  We explored the idea that the soul is a ray of divinity which chooses a particular human life for its own growth, and which continues its own growth, and which continues its life beyond this human one.

All of us made deeper contact with our soul in some way, and found rich guidance from this.  A common message was to slow down, do less, and enjoy every moment of being in a body, with all its scope for sensual delight.  Several people struggling to care for frail, demanding parents saw ways that this served their own soul’s growth.

Cordelia and I did a lot of research for this group, and found some excellent books.  One which was much appreciated is Testimony of Light by Helen Greaves: dictated to her by a dead friend, offering a detailed and affirming account of the afterlife.  Her experience after death is “life separated by density-that is all!”  She finds that one can only understand one’s human life after it: “our ‘inner eyes’ are opened… to the errors of our old patterns… We are allowed to progress into such experiences as will help us put right these errors.” Click here for my blog on the book.

One aim of this weekend was to face our fears and prejudices around death, and explore it as a passing over for our soul.  The conversations with our souls certainly helped this, as did some touching accounts from several of the group of deaths they had been present at.  These are supported by research showing that many people find more peace as they approach physical death, and feel themselves being welcomed and helped by souls from the other side.

The Abbey, Sutton Courtenay

Befriending your soul: starting a dialogue

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Aug 252021

There was a time around age 40 when I felt that the interest of life was thinning out: friends from early adulthood were drifting away, my kids were turning into grumpy teenagers, work challenges became samey. However, now I’m in my early seventies, I’ve seen my life getting progressively more interesting for many years. One big reason is the richness of my non-human conversations: with Nature, with spiritual guides, and especially with my soul.

The aim of this blog is to share some tips on how to start a conversation with your soul. It’s not as easy as phoning someone up! It needs patience, and probably some new skills. I suggest the best groundwork is to start exploring the idea of soul, gathering your sense of what it might mean to you, and the questions you’d like to explore or clarify.

Ways to start could include meditating on this, talking to friends and learning about their beliefs, exploring books, videos, websites. My Resource Guide offers some starting points. Building up desire for contact with my soul was an important early stage for me.

When you’d like to start a dialogue with your soul, find a quiet and inspiring space: maybe a favourite place in Nature, or a meditation corner at home. Bring yourself into a receptive state, and in words or thought, invite your soul to speak to you. This is where patience is crucial! I’ve found it can take a long time for the soul to respond: remember this is a new contact for it too, and maybe it wants to test out how serious you are.

For me, having a physical sense of my soul’s presence has helped establish the connection. For some years, I pictured my soul’s physical location at the thymus gland, between the heart and the throat. More recently, one of my spiritual teachers suggested that I picture the soul as larger than the body, like an aura of light surrounding it. I’ve found this very helpful, and it reinforces a useful sense that I’m a body within a soul, not the other way round.

Another approach I value is calling in spirit guides, who can help me in my dialogue with the soul, and in supporting me and my soul when we meet a major challenge. In his excellent book, Journey of Souls (see more here), Michael Newton explains how souls have a mentor who guides them through many lifetimes, and he has seen many people connect with their mentor while in a human incarnation.

This too may need patience. It took me a few sessions of putting out a request for a connection with my soul mentor before I felt I got a response. If you can make this link, I suggest you maintain it by using it regularly, but sparingly: don’t clutter things by asking for guidance on minor issues!

Another interesting line of exploration is seeking to connect with your soul group, another idea well explained in Michael Newton’s book. You could seek a link with the collective wisdom of the group, or with individual souls within it. I’ve found both helpful, and it has given me a sense that three of my friends are part of the same soul group, which adds depth to our connection.

I hope this helps you with your soul’s journey: keeping a sense of adventure and open-mindedness is important!