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Drawing on my MA (Psychology), MSc (Holistic Ecology) and 20 years’ field experience, I aim to promote new ways of seeing old problems. We need to expand how we think and perceive the world, yet how, why and what to do is an emergent process dependent on the situation, people involved and the environment.
Authentic living embraces the interplay and discourse between the inner personal journey, the external world and the wider environment, which includes the natural world. Finding the balance between the inner and outer world is important for self awareness and self growth. From this viewpoint, maturing involves a process of widening one’s sense of self and identifying with others – family, friends, communities, our own species, and then all species of non-human life.
Humans exist in a relational total field. Rather than experiencing humanity as separate from environment or merely existing in it, humanity must begin to cultivate the insight that they are with the environment.
My parenting, leadership and ecological programmes are journeys that begin with broadening self-awareness; participants are then guided on steps towards a focused presence (the development of an open mind, open heart and open will), a “big-picture” perspective, problem-solving and action plans. Mechanisms include discussions, dialogues, sharing, guided introspection and interactions that deepen conversation and listening skills (and thus relationships) through conscious, focused presence development.
Learning what to DO only comes from learning HOW to BE. During my programmes, participants discover the steps that enable personal transformation. The programmes reveal that the principles of “I am, I can, I have and I choose” are tools that build confidence and awareness of your capacity and abilities in doubtful times. You will remind yourself of your intention and core values and learn to bring these to your challenges. There is a powerful shift that happens when instead of focusing on the problem, we move our attention to our intention, positive values and awareness: your perspective broadens and space unfolds for solutions and mindful response rather than impulsive reaction.
My philosophy hinges on the necessity of quality of presence in any relationship, that is between a parent and child, between colleagues, spouses, friends and acquaintances.
It is not only about the time that a one spends with another but the manner in which the one decides to show up. To be truly present to someone else means to be fully available in a nonjudgmental, curious and wholesome way. This may in the end be a simple act but being fully present is an intentional practice of being centred with an open acceptance, with deep listening coupled an empathic heart.
It is the quality of attention that impacts relationships. This allows the person one is interacting with to be truly seen, heard and recognised in an authentic way. The conscious-presence approach holds that building an authentic relationship is key to wholesome parenting; I would say it is key to any rewarding relationship. This focus expands meaning and depth, and opens the other person in the relationship to trust and guidance. It is an extraordinary leadership skill.
I also believe that good values and living our highest intentions and motivations raises our interactions to sacred acts where healthy love and attachment can flourish. All our efforts need a moral compass.
My approach is based on whole systems thinking. This follows the life principles of nature – everything in nature connects, sometimes co-operatively and sometimes competitively. If evolution and the relationships between all beings have thrived for 3.4 billion years based on these principles, then we need to consider these laws of nature and bring them to our own relationships.
The primary principle is that everything is connected and that we are in constant relationship with all that surrounds us, and this effects who and what we are. Our interpersonal relationships are dynamic, changeable and yet certain intentions and values can remain consistent.
Putting the quality of the relationship first involves good awareness of self and other. Any living system has a reciprocal and an adaptive relationship within its niche. One does not cause the other – there is a continual dance between the individual and the environment it is located in so that nothing exists without being influenced by what and who is in the environment too. They can be in a balance of competing strengths and cooperative action. This requires a different way of thinking about ourselves, where we see ourselves continually in process. This means we need to be willing to engage in continual recursive self-reflection where we notice that we are responding to our culture, to others and to ourselves.
Parenting cannot exist outside of the family. Getting stuck in a particular parent approach or reaction drives the parenting process into an unconscious process that can cause wounding and/or withdrawal. The same is true in a professional environment. Intentions are necessary to focus behaviour, and our values guide the way. Long-term thinking that learns from adversity and struggle is important. A growth mentality is imperative to allow creativity and emergence. Just as family systems should allow for self-organising and diversity to build resilience within the family, the same is effective in the workspace. When a child (or co-worker) is seen, focused on, listened to and valued as an integral part of the family system (or business), as well as the larger socio and cultural systems in which he or she is located, emergence and co-evolution to occur at an optimal level.
I have been astonished by the successes achieved by implementing these complex (though at heart, simple) philosophies, processes and principles. I would love to tell you more about the value they can bring to your own relationships. The promise is deeper self-awareness and deeper connections, new ways of thinking and evaluating, and effective methods of shifting habitual emotional reactions.