I have always believed that you can change by starting at either a physical or psychological level. I have been studying Taoist Tai Chi for a year now and it confirms my belief. I have noticed myself becoming more able to let go as I do even five minutes of practice a day. The teacher we had on Saturday explained how a slight change in posture made all the difference. “So we are aiming for lightness, ease and letting go of struggle?” I asked. “Exactly,” she said, as one of the lads giggled and said, “You should put that on a T shirt!” I had already known that at times I put too much effort into trying to make things happen as opposed to doing my best and then letting go. Tai Chi is teaching me how to use minimum effort to achieve the same result. It takes a “Head” understanding down into the body and effects transformation easily and subtly, once you continue practising. I have also finally learned in the last year or so that simply going to a class once a week is not enough for me to actually learn a new skill. Doing a small bit each day is the key. For me, the best thing about Tai Chi is knowing that it really doesn’t matter whether I get it right or wrong. It feels good, it feels relaxing and enjoyable. It requires focused concentration to get the “form” or sequence of movements correct, and because you have to focus, the mind quietens down. Meditation in motion. How peaceful is that.
Some of you may know that I am an animal healer as well as a therapist for humans. I go to a rescue centre called Dog’s Aid once a week to offer some healing to whichever animals need it. I’ve been doing this for seven years, and I can honestly say that I have never seen a cent go astray in that time – all resources go on the animals. Maggie, who runs the place, is an amazing character. I greatly admire her. She’s been rescuing animals for over thirty years. I don’t know how she keeps going. I simply wouldn’t have the physical or emotional stamina to do what she does. So at the moment, she and I have been trying to help a grey African parrot who is nearly bald as he is plucking his feathers out. I started offering him healing a few weeks ago. Then I did some research online, and Maggie changed the location of his cage. Then I got some Chamomilla homeopathic remedy for him. Some of his feathers grew back. Then I made up a remedy of Crab Apple, Cherry Plum and Rescue Remedy, from the Bach Flower remedies. He started on that last week and when I went in to work with him yesterday, I could immediately see an improvement. His energy field was brighter. He had more feathers. Maggie had asked two volunteers to extend his cage by linking it to another one and they had done a great job. I had gleaned more information from the internet and I put in a branch of silver birch (apparently silver birch and willow are two wood types safe to use with grey African parrots) and some pine cones, to amuse him. Yesterday, for the first time, he came right over to me, and put one claw on one side of the cage and the other on the other corner, exposing his chest feathers to me. He stayed like that for about fifteen minutes, soaking up the healing as I sang lullabies to him. He must be deaf because my singing voice would clear a pub after a lock-in!! Maggie always says that whatever ailment humans can get or experience, animals are the same. So when he was introduced to his new extended cage, he wouldn’t go into it. Fear of more freedom and addiction to the safe routine afflicts us all, I guess. Exasperated, Maggie said to him, “Well, you’re supposed to be intelligent – you figure it out!” He did, eventually. Later she told me that an eighteen year old dog called Lukie had died the day before from a massive stroke. Lukie came into the shelter five years ago. Her owner had another, bigger dog. Lukie was the size of a cat so that wouldn’t have been difficult. The big dog chased Lukie under the jeep and – get this – the owner deliberately ran over Lukie to “teach her a lesson.” I woke at 4am this morning thinking about this. What sort of heart of darkness would you need to have to do such a thing? I’m not naive. I’ve heard many horrific stories of humans abusing humans in my eighteen years as a therapist. But some stories cut right to your heart, don’t they? So what can we do to offset such barbarity? Look to our own inner demons first, and make sure we face them so that we don’t project them out onto a hapless dog or human. Intend to be kind and act in a kind way to all sentient beings and the earth itself. Clearly the world needs all the light we can bring into it. And now is the only time we have.
It’s been a rough year, and it’s only May. I won’t go into the gory details of why, except to say that an elderly mother is part of the equation. For those of you caring for an elderly parent, enough said. So I have needed to regroup. Part of what I have done in the last few months was to take a sabbatical from writing anything other than my Morning Pages (from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.) It has been a time of paring down commitments in order to give myself time to recover. One of the great things that has supported me is the Tai Chi class I started going to last October. I love it. It requires total attention to detail so the thinking mind has to go on holiday. It’s also very graceful and flowing, like a slow dance. We do the form, or practice of the 108 moves, in total silence. I find it incredibly peaceful. Mobile phone off, quietness, and moving meditation. It teaches you patience, because you practice and practice and then one day, you find that you know a bit of it, and gradually add a little more to what you know. It can’t be rushed. I know about the first eight moves and the two snake movements, that’s all. I bought a bamboo plant and put it in a pot in the back garden. The bamboo is on one side of me and the shed is on the other in a very small space as I try to practice the little I know out of sight of the neighbours, so that they won’t call for a strait jacket for me. The second string of my regaining my equilibrium has been my daily meditation practice, a godsend in tough times. It’s a lovely rest for the mind and helps me focus on all my blessings, of which there are many. Of course the cats are a great help too. Felicity leaped on a sheet hanging over the stairs last week, and slid down the bannister with claws stuck in the fabric, a look of total shock on her face. It was the funniest thing I have seen all year and gave me a much-needed belly laugh. So I am grateful for all mercies, large and small, and especially the way the Universe responded when I asked for help in regaining my joie de vivre. Try it. Sure what have you got to lose?! 🙂
As a therapist and animal healer, I am very aware of the suffering in the world of both humans and animals. When I work with a stressed animal, I can feel my stomach contract with their fear. Emotional energy is contagious. Three years ago I started an experimental news fast for a month as I found my energy was being brought down by a constant diet of bad news. I stopped watching the news on TV and reading newspapers. It worked. I use my improved energy to do what I can to help people and animals and to honour my soul work. I have never gone back to following news, but because I use a computer naturally I see snippets even when I don’t want to.
As a clinical hypnotherapist, I know that whatever we focus on expands. As a healer, I know that healing is like water, and it flows from a higher vibration to a lower one. There is a lot of reactive fear in the air at the moment. How can we respond more wisely and well to the climate of fear? We can take a proactive approach and choose to respond rather than react. Three suggestions are: 1. Start a gratitude log to shift focus to the positive. 2. Choose to see the best in everyone, including ourselves. 3. Focus on service by asking the Universe/God “How can I help today?” and when the opportunity to help or be kind to a person, animal, or the earth itself comes today (and it will) take it and make the world better, one intentional act at a time. To connect with other like-minded people and see the scientific underpinning of the benefits of a heart-focused life, have a look at Global Harmony Initiative .
When you self-published your book, did you have any idea of how TECHNICAL everything is to the non-technical person who is trying to market their online book? Especially (but not exclusively) if you grew up in the last century..?! Well, if you are floundering around, join the gang of new writers, indie publishers or newbie authors who are overwhelmed by how much there is to learn and do in order to actually sell your book. My heart goes out to you.
Just to let you know, I self-published my first book, How to Love Yourself in Less Than 50 Years, in ebook and paperback format earlier this year. Well, I thought I was the Bees Knees and the Cats Pyjamas for doing it, because it took me two and a half years to write. And indeed, I am very proud of myself. But I have been (and continue to be) on a very steep learning curve ever since. I always want to pass on anything that might help someone else in the same position. We’re all in this together, right? So take heart. Here’s a distillation of my top five tips for maintaining your Sanity Claws in the face of recalcitrant computers and information overload when trying to learn how to sell your book online.
- Manage Your Efforts. The amount of information available is overwhelming, so make it manageable by chunking. It reduces your stress levels. For example, divide your work into two projects such as Marketing Existing Book, and Writing Next Book. Under each project, plan three activities to move it forward. Carry them out, then reward yourself in a healthy way. Believe me, writing and marketing can be a lonely process. So you have to be your own best cheerleader and celebrate every step forward you take.
- Keywords. Go to Amazon and type in your genre, e.g. self help. See what words and descriptions come up. Use the Google Adwords tool (as if you were going to create and ad) and type in the same phrase. Identify words that are on both lists. Use them in your title, subtitle and book description. (This is a very simplified approach to an extremely technical area but it’s a good place to start.)
- Build an Email Marketing List. This is a long-term strategy. Check out Nick Stephenson’s free online course https://www.yourfirst10kreaders.com/
- Rework Your Book Description. Go to Amazon. Look up the top ten bestsellers in your genre. Copy and paste the book descriptions. Identify words or phrases that you would feel comfortable using yourself. Then spend at least seven hours crafting and recrafting, editing and re-editing your new book description. Ask friends to give you feedback on the revised version. Take their edits on board if they sound right to you. Upload your new description. It may help boost your sales significantly because copywriting is a completely different ball game than book writing.
- Get Reviews. Amazon is not a book/product seller. It is a search engine. One of the things that significantly boosts your ranking and therefore your sales are good book reviews. But not just good book reviews. RECENT good book reviews. Do your research by googling “How to get Amazon book reviews” and you will see millions of entries and ideas. Sift through and choose three strategies. If they work, great. If not, try three more strategies. Channel your inner Bruce Willis and just keep going. Let me know how you get on!