Archive for February, 2019

To me, taming our inner slave-drivers (and critics) has to be one of the first things on the list if we’re interested in self-development and self-care, for unless we have a good handle on those cheeky, insidious demons, it’s all too easy for them to hijack proceedings and spoil all the tender fun – and in fact, set us back steps: “tsk…you haven’t done any yoga this week” – “look how needy you are – look how greedy you are – get a grip!” Those old, urgent yet misguided characters that live in our heads, trying to keep us in line the best, childlike way they know how, can (and often do) use all the data we’ve gathered in our mindfulness experiences to back up their out-dated, self-flagelating patterns and beliefs. Tutting at ourselves, calling ourselves names under our breath. The negative self-talk can creep in at any moment, especially in moments of sudden chaos or when we’re feeling overwhelmed.

When we tie bells to the ankles of these pesky critters we have a chance to operate from the only truly efficient place which is kindness and patience. The kind me and the kind You would never treat ourselves, or anyone else, with disdain or dismissal. The kind me and the kind You would never enforce those values and beliefs. The kind me and the kind You often falls asleep when the slave-driver or critic comes to call.

The game is to stay awake, see them coming, and above all, without banishing them, NEVER let elevate them to having any gravitas or decision-making power.

In these moments, the most efficient I can be is to ask ‘what is the legitimate need behind this toxic character’s behaviour?’ If that character is piping up, to me, it must mean that there’s something underneath which is feeling anxious or unfed or in need of some self-care. A good way to find out what it is is to ask the character itself. It takes a moment of dropping the solving, analytical perspective and just asking with curiosity:

“What do you really need?”

A moment of space, listening, and something Life’s Genius was trying to flag for you rises to the surface. Now the slave-driver has been transformed into an illuminator.

We have these skills and abilities. All it takes is to STOP – LISTEN – FEEL – and the kind, wakeful, resilient person we really are comes to the fore. That Presence never leads us wrong or denigrates us.

That’s why they say it’s all within. Do we dare stop and listen for it? It can be vulnerable to trust ourselves. Can we be a little bit vulnerable willingly?

It’s full of treasure.

(do come to Bristol, London, Manchester, Chester, Bournemouth, Brighton, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Glastonbury, Totnes, Corfu or Nepal)


17 March What About Us?         Brighton
24 March What About Us?      Bournemouth
6 April Insanely Gifted                  Totnes
7 April Transforming Shadows    Exeter
13 April  Insanely Gifted             Norwich
14 April Transforming Shadows   Cambridge
27 April Insanely Gifted           Manchester
28 April What About Us?           Chester
4 May Insanely Gifted                   London
5 May What About YOU?              London


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Do you notice an urge to fill the space with ‘what’s next’?

No sooner has a short space opened up in my life than the ‘using my time wisely’ police show up. I’ve just completed the ‘Becoming Nobody’ film and we’ve scheduled 3 months of workshops, the new Academy of The Sacred Fool ‘Maze online Journey’ is about to launch again and even though it’s now obviously a time for replenishment and leaving space, I can still hear that cheeky slave-driver demon trying to sneak into my decision-making again: “So, what’s next? What’s the next big project? Got to get shit going! Mouths to feed for years ahead!”

It takes vulnerability as an artist or entrepreneur to be still and rest and allow replenishment without taking any direct action ‘out there’ to push things along. I used to find myself addicted to an endless to-do list which became more about staving off my anxious attitude than achieving the tasks on the list itself. I still slip.

Even though I know that Emptiness and stillness, when I allow them, have mostly shown themselves to be FULL, not boring or antsy or inefficient. That non-doing, more yin space, that the ancient Taoists call Wu Wei, is really full of ideas and unexpected treasures and illuminations rushing into that space. That’s where inspiring ideas often arise, in the spaces between my endless to-do list pre-occupation.

Yet there’s an entrenched character in my mind trying to sell me the opposite – a character I put in place long ago as a child, when I had concluded that the way to survive and achieve was to slave-drive everything along with tutts and exasperations as my teachers and carers had shown me.

So me and my slave-driver sit together here in this house. Every time I notice him start his list again I treat it as my alarm bleep or meditation bell to come back to presence as Jamie, the kind man who’s decided to sit still and not get anything done right now.

“Have you paid the Bristol venue?”


If I ever communicate with him with exasperation or try and ‘shut him up’ then I know I’ve fallen asleep and he got me. The real me is kind.

And this is how the slave-driver is repurposed and redistributed in my inner world as my newly appointed sparring partner in an ongoing Presence Challenge. The slave-driver now functions as the meditation bell of ‘noticing the difference between my kind, loving, present self and the endless self-protecting, self-cherishing, negative voices’ leaping in masquerading as ‘the important truth’. The slave-driver becomes a tool to notice the mental DJ’s of Headfuck FM who I long ago tasked with making sure I NEVER look stupid, never feel the pain of shame, never risk exile, never risk rejection, ridicule, poverty, unattractiveness, criticism….and every time I notice, I come back to kind presence and wake up from the spell.

To me, knowing the difference is what defines a juicy, awake Life or a zombified, reactive, asleep one.

So it’s worth it, even though now I just wrote this instead of sitting still.

“The first thing to do is stop whatever else you’re doing.

Now sit down somewhere comfortable.

Anywhere is fine” Thich Nhat Hanh


image: Igor Morski

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