New Beginnings (February 2010)

Dear Friends,
When I received the telephone call from Cygnus informing me that I had been offered the position of Assistant Editor, I was filled with joy and excitement, but also a little trepidation. Joy and excitement because I felt I could contribute my many years of experience in the print and publishing industry, along with my life-long interest in personal development, to the wonderful work the Cygnus team do. But also feelings of trepidation about whether I would be able to live up to the many roles and facets of this job, and the great privilege of helping to bring this beautiful magazine and its many benefits to you, and of the enormous responsibility of that role.

I had had a difficult year financially, last year, as many of you may also have had, and coupled with relationship problems, I decided I needed a fresh start. What better place for a fresh start than in the magnificent Brecon Beacons, working with warm and genuine people in tune with my values and beliefs? When other areas of my life, too, had all seemed to come to a natural end at that point, it was undoubtedly going to be an easy matter to ‘make the break’!

A mirrored upheaval
Not so simple. There followed two months of battling through storms and floods, driving back and forth on a four-hour round trip, looking for suitable accommodation, before I found a place I could call home, but that wouldn’t be available until January.

In some ways those storms and floods mirrored my own sense of upheaval, my concerns and worries about a whole lifestyle change, and my natural desire to cling on to circumstances that I was used to, like a pair of outworn shoes – so comfortable, so familiar, but well past their sell-by date. I so wanted to move, but resistance was definitely there.

The first snow fall came, and with it solid ice. I slipped and broke my right wrist quite badly. Being fairly independent (and right hand dominant), and not used to any kind of health problem it came as quite a shock to me, along with all the implications that that brought for someone living on their own. How do I move house and pack, is the job still available for me, and how do I achieve all of these and more, including meeting my hospital appointments, when I’m not allowed to drive for six weeks?

Then came the smaller challenges that I was confronted with day by day. How do I get washed and dressed with one hand? How do I open cellophane packages, peel vegetables, open tins, feed the cats, get the shopping in, go to the bank, and a plethora of daily tasks, that I normally do without thinking, became an enormous challenge made worse by further heavy snowfall.

Creative solutions
And yet there was a certain satisfaction and pleasure in finding creative solutions to each and every situation – and I did find those solutions. The everyday things that I took for granted I began to see with fresh eyes. I learnt to discover new ways forward, and to rediscover my sense of resourcefulness and determination, my sense of playfulness and humour – and surely laughing in the face of adversity is one of the greatest of human abilities.

And I remembered a book Zen Mind, Beginners Mind that I had read so long ago, that stated that one should approach each and every situation with a beginner’s mind, a fresh mind, as if coming to it for the very first time. It is only in that beginner’s state that we are able let go of our limiting beliefs about what is possible or not possible, what we can or cannot achieve.

Do something different
There comes a time for all of us, at some point in our lives, when circumstances aren’t working for us as we’d like, when crises may occur, but old patterns are simply breaking down to make way for the new. With a background in NLP training, I know well the phrase ‘If something isn’t working, do something different – anything different.’ And here I was presented with a golden opportunity to do everything different! Of course, even using my left hand to accomplish everything was doing something different, and thereby building and strengthening new neural pathways in my brain by doing so, as well as giving me an opportunity to think creatively, to gain that beginner’s mind, to look to the future with a mind now open to new possibilities, and to let go of the past. What a ‘break’ through!

When I was sent the book choices for the month by Sarah I had to smile at what seems to be a common event at Cygnus – the synchronicity of such apt choices that have special meaning just at the right time that you need them most. They have inspired me and I hope they inspire you.

Something new is coming
The title of Neale Donald Walsch’s new book, When Everything Changes, Change Everything (see p. 4) explains it all. When everything changes, he tells us, the best thing to do is to change everything – physical and non physical, and that includes emotions, thoughts, even your truths. What we may perceive as a crisis may be looked at as just the process of change – a breaking down of old patterns so that something new may be created. Change may be scary, but it can also be exciting: change indicates that something new is coming.

In Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul (see p. 8), Deepak Chopra eloquently describes that breakthroughs occur when you start thinking about your problems in a fresh new way. The biggest breakthroughs, he says, occur when you start thinking in an unbounded way.
Dr Chopra describes how the body is a reflection of the mind, and that each one of us has invented our bodies and our personalities through our beliefs, conditioning and responses to everyday stress, but we have done this unconsciously. It is my belief that our lives, too, are but a reflection of these mental processes.

And this theme continues for me, in Steve Taylor’s book, Waking from Sleep (see p. 6). He explains how our normal state of consciousness with which we experience the world is really a kind of ‘sleep’ state. What we experience is only our perception of the world, moulded by our beliefs and thoughts.

Co-creating reality
‘We are in the cave looking at the shadows on the wall. Our vision of an inanimate, separate and indifferent world isn’t objective, in the same way that a blurred picture from a faulty camera isn’t a true image. The vision is the product of our psyche, of the mechanism and structures of our mind.’

Our mind, he says, does not observe reality – it co-creates it.

He goes on to describe higher states of consciousness, or what he calls ‘an awakening experience’, which often brings with it a strong sense of love and compassion for other beings, a feeling of newness and aliveness, and a sense of the sacred within, and how to live more often from that awakened state.

Once more, how apt this book is for the present time and the changing season. February, the start of Spring, brings fresh hopes and new beginnings, a time for all of us to awaken to the mysteries within, to gain that sense of newness and aliveness and, as Deepak Chopra says, to live from the soul.

With our love,

Annie, Sarah, Ann, Geoff and the Cygnus Team