21st Century Thinking…


We have a saying in our house when someone has a good idea particularly regarding food and drink.  We call it ‘Officer Thinking’.

Its sad. But its a reference  Captain Kirk comment when faced with having to host a dinner for high ranking Klingons. It was made easier by the addition of illegal alien alcohol.


It was the last film.  Based on Chernobyl. Remember it ?

In other words its thinking combined with action that help to make things run smoothly…

Anyway there is another type a thinking around. What the Dali Lama calls new thinking.  It refers to the emerging sense that something needs to be done regarding how we see the world and and what we can do to make things better.

If the 20th Century was marked by thinking like, “whats in it for me?”. The results of which are now bearing fruit like the banking crash, climate change etc… Then 21st Century thinking is about what can I do. How can make a difference for others?

With this in mind Mick has just completed 3 weeks of Mindfulness training with Manchester High School for Girls years 12 &13. The course for over 100 students, comprised a series of simple exercises to ‘Check -in’ and build a little awareness with some simple techniques to help settle thoughts and open up to being themselves, trusting to what they can do. As usual Mick led the routines combined with ‘live’ sketch diagrams to help convey some of the science and principles.

Lots of fun but with a serious intent…

Mick also gave the school a simple guided meditation download for the school’s intranet, ‘Moodle’. This gives the students the chance download a meditation onto their smart phones to be used anytime.

Well done to the school for such 21st Century thinking and planning.

The future is in safe hands…


By the way. Apologies. Its not the first time we have featured StarTrek on this website…

The Art Getting it Down on Paper…

We have completed our first mindful creative writing workshop with the Chorlton Book Festival this week – The Art of Getting it Down on Paper.

We swung from Steve Jobs, Picasso, Denis Potter and David Lynch. We moved back and forth from the writing table (our doing space) to a our meditation circle (our being space) and then brought it all together with a series of mindful based creative exercises.

Each exercise was designed to point towards the experience and  techniques of non-doing or non-attachment. Knowing how this way of working can be ‘turned on’ we can develop an awareness of effortless flow which comes from just brining attention to the act of doing rather than expectation of future outcomes.

These simple mind/body techniques bring about a sense of the present and ourselves in the centre of it, moment by moment. When that happens we open up and allow ourselves to ‘receive’ creative flow. But as Picasso told us, the flow of inspiration is always there but it has to ‘catch you working’  – you don’t sit and wait. You use it.  You have to get out of the way and allow it flow.

This  is at the heart of all creative action. Its also where real happiness is found in the joy of just being and doing.




How to survive Black Friday!

There are plenty of websites out there with tips on how to get through Black Friday. They tell you how:

  • Plan your route first
  • Make a list
  • Decide what you want before you enter the scrum
  • Don’t be distracted
  • Prepare to wait
  • Stay calm
  • Take water and supplies
  • Be prepared to use physical violence and shout at everyone.

Okay I made that last one up but it happens anyway. Interestingly none of the Black Friday websites offer this important advice:


Watching all those sad people desperately fighting over flat screen TV’s has a look of the ‘end of days’.

You can imagine future generations sitting around campfires in deserted shopping malls telling stories about Black Friday. It was a time when the human race finally fell flat on its face into a pile of consumer crap nobody really needed.

There is good reason why it’s called Black Friday. Everyone dies a little.

So here are my tips for avoiding Black Friday.

  • Go out with friends
  • Read a book or catch up on a film (not Spectre though. It was rubbish)
  • Help your kids
  • Take the dog out.
  • Stay in bed.
  • Don’t watch the TV news and stay off the Internet.

You can do any of these or maybe all of them.

You might also have time to think about the following:

  • Decide to be happy with what you already have.
  • You are free. Only believe what you know to be true for yourself (old yoga science)
  • Humans Beings are made for giving not taking.
  • When you have more than you need someone else has less than they need.
  • The more stuff you think you need the bigger the hole in your life/head/heart…

Meditation. Art or Science?

Its clear that meditation and mindfulness have, over the last few years become a major area of scientific investigation.

On the whole this is a good thing because it has taken this very ancient practice back into the main stream. And if there ever was time we needed to reconnect with essentially human practice –  its NOW!

However go to any mindfulness conference these days and almost all presenters will show you a picture of a working brain, a Buddhist monk sitting in a scanner and a set of graphs showing something or other…

There is lots of talk on how meditation practice changes brain structure and mass. How it repairs and builds neural pathways. There is also lots of talk about emotional intelligence, kindness and compassion.

This is all good stuff but the concluding analysis is limited staying very much on the surface. Many scientists have trouble with the C words – There are two of them:



From where I am sitting they are pretty much the same thing.

But much scientific analysis on meditation resists defining these essential forces, which makes for a bland definition and shallow analysis of what is happening in meditation and why we do it.

It’s all a question of what consciousness and creativity are and where they come from? Many scientists will tell you they are functions of the brain. Others will tell you it’s the other way around. The brain is a manifestation of creative consciousness. That’s the whole point of meditation. To open up to deeper level of being and know that unitive experience.

By just assuming from the start, that everything happens in brain and that its the source of consciousness and creativity limits a really profound analysis of what is really happening and cuts across what is the experience on many long term meditators, artists, designers etc… Its a little like looking for the source of your favourite radio station inside you radio.

Its not there!

Science tells how the world works. Art tells us why the world works.

Now think about the question?

Empower Your Inner Architect…

Booking is now open for our New Year 2016 Yoga workshop.

In yoga practice its traditional to set a ‘Sankelpa’ (intention) at the beginning of every solar year. Setting your Sankelpa is the yoga equivalent of making a new year’s resolution but with more power, purpose and energy. Its a time of change, decisions making and planning and so on January16th 2016 we are hoping you can join us for our brand new and unique workshop called:

Empower Your Inner Architect

We have teamed with Life Coach and Yogi Sally Heady to bring this inspiring g mix of deep yoga practice  aligned with the latest techniques in personal life coaching and goal setting. This is real yoga practice for the modern world for real people who live real lives.

Click on the poster below to read more and book your place:


Where do ideas come from and how did you catch them?

In many ways its better not talk about ideas as ready-made events just waiting to be discovered. They take work.

The key to any creative process is knowing how to get them down on paper, no matter when, in a form that is useful to you and others.

It’s a cliché to talk about creative flow –  but its real.

Creativity, or better still potential is in constant flow everywhere all the time…If you try to define or label the flow, keep it for yourself, claim ownership you will soon find you have inadvertently blocked yourself off from flow and happiness.

Thats because authentic creativity and sustainable happiness are pretty much the same thing.

Ideas take courage. You need to learn how to get out the way.

That’s why creative block is so painful. It’s self-inflicted

You need to let go, not try too hard and catch them unawares. But you don’t sit around waiting for ideas. Those of us who use their creativity for a living know you have to be there…aligning with clients, budgets and deadlines. It’s a serious business.

Inspiration does happen but you have to be there to know it.

Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will – through work – bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art [idea]….Chuck Close

Or better still:

 Inspiration exists but it has to find you working….Pablo Picasso

So where ideas come from?

Who knows…. but they are waiting to be discovered. And when you do you will find every idea come with its own momentum. Its own potential

How do you catch them?

 By getting into the flow, learning to swim and by going deep.

Did you know happiness and creativity are the same thing?

We are leading a special mindful, creativity promoting  workshop in Manchester called the Art of getting Down on Paper.


Using simple meditation, combined with mindful exercises you will learn how to move beyond your over thinking inner critic. Discover how cultivating a deep flowing, creative act of connection can link what you are doing with who you are, moment-to-moment to make happy work.

You can book your place here:

Real Yoga + Real Food = Real Life

This weekend we hosted our very first food based yoga workshop with Hannah Patterson from Make it Healthy.

Three hours just flew by as Mick gave a talk on the gunnas and led a  posture and breathing based routine focused on prana flow emphasising twists and abdominal body work.

Hannah demonstrated the making of a powerful green juice, ginger balls and a very tasty carob smoothie. We finished with a wonderful pumpkin pie made by Hannah in honour of Halloween.

All in all a fantastic workshop designed to show how yoga practice can be taken off the mat and into day-to-day life with the choices we make on how and what we eat.

Thank you everyone for making the event a big success. You can visit Hannah’s web site here for the recipes…


Intention. It works when its effortless…

We are progressing nicely with our first YLP Teacher training. Last week we tackled Module No 2 (out of 18) entitled, ‘The Core of Yoga Practice’.

Focused on the ‘Yoga Path’ we looked at how the path inwards can be reflected in the structure of the class through a carefully composed combination of body, breath and mind techniques shaped by mindful action.

This is the core yoga practice.

One step on that path is ‘Intention’. We focus a lot on that in class.

Intention is linked to Action, Purpose and Commitment embedded in the Now. When Intention is central to the experience of Now it becomes effortless. Its no coincidence that the first two words in the Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are:

‘And Now…’

To make an Intention in practice prompted a great discussion on what it really means. Here is a note from Andrea, a YLP trainee yoga teacher who tells us,

I woke up this morning I had a real urge to put something down on paper about effortless intention. For me it was just a really important moment of clarity and I thought that in the future it would be something really nice to refer back to. I thought you might like to have a read of it:

A transition to effortless intention

In 2011 I embarked on a journey of Reiki healing. A psychotherapist I was visiting at the time for anxiety and panic attacks recommended Reiki.  We had hit a brick wall and progress wasn’t being made, my anxiety, worry and stress continued. Things just did not seem right in my world but with no obvious solution, it was time to try something new.

Reiki is a natural healing method that works on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realms by healing the 7 chakras. A reiki treatment begins with setting an active intention for the highest good of oneself or for another who is receiving a Reiki treatment. The intention could be anything from “I want to feel rested”. “I want to understand a certain situation” or if you are giving a treatment to another, a possible intention could be “I want John to feel relaxed, safe and enjoy the Reiki treatment” Whatever the intention is my understanding of Reiki is that you or another would surrender to the treatment. You may (or may not) find that answers and ideas may transpire during a treatment or maybe sometimes afterwards to help you with your intention.

My personal experience of Reiki is that ideas or answers would rarely come to me during treatments but they would do so through words, images, dreams, situations, synchronicity and through challenges or issues with others. Along the way I have come to understand my wounds, behaviours and the patterns that have existed in my world. I have explored the possibility of past life experiences and how they could have affected my life today and I learned that through interactions and observations with others I am able to obtain the greatest of insights in myself, so for example what I find a challenge in others will be a challenge in myself.  By using Reiki I have been able to heal myself of wounds that I have held within myself both past and present in order to help myself and others in the future. Through Reiki I have become more creative and more my true self. There are have been moments of crystal clear clarity, it really has been a positive influence and experience. However there has been one very significant factor that has been a constant struggle in my Reiki journey and that has been to “surrender.”

On reflection when I think of my approach to my Reiki journey I have approached it like I approach everything, the words “bull in a china shop” spring to mind. Obstacles and challenges are bulldozed and if I am struggling to find a solution I work very hard to find one and won’t stop until I do. To surrender has not been an easy task for me. Although I have been able to surrender at times there have been moments when I have found myself letting go and the fears immediately “kick in.” I hear myself thinking, “this isn’t going to go well, this isn’t going to go right, I won’t like the outcome, it is going to hurt” and I immediately take back full control. I have come to realise that this approach is exhausting and it no longer works for me but to surrender means that you have to let go of the control, put faith and trust in life, in the Universe.

I recently embarked on a Yoga teacher training course and during the module two we had a discussion around what intention means in yoga practice. I have to admit I started to panic because although I had heard about the word “intention” mentioned lots of times in yoga class it was the first time I had thought about what it meant for myself and how I would use this in practice as a yoga teacher. Suddenly I felt lost and a little confused, all the years of practicing yoga had I really forgotten to set myself an intention before practice, had I really been doing it wrong all these years, do I really know what I am doing? Suddenly I remembered that the night before I had been reading about Pareto’s law and how we can relate it to our daily lives.   The idea is that we spend 20 % of our time in active planning and creativity but then 80 % of the time just letting things happen. With this in mind and through discussion and interaction with my teacher and fellow yogis something clicked. I realised that through my yoga practice I was already practicing letting go, something that I did not know I could do. Any intention held in my heart or for a brief moment in my mind prior to yoga practice was released as I focused on relaxing, asanas, pranayama and meditation. I was working through my intention with little effort just focusing on just being present in my yoga practice. It was that moment of clarity that I realised how far I had come, that I was no longer stuck in the past. What needed to be healed had been healed by active intention with reiki but for now it had served its purpose.   It was time continue on my path with focus on a new and fresh approach but unbeknown to me it had already happened, a transition to effortless intention had taken place, I had effortlessly surrendered.

Hedge Fund Manager or Poet?

In many ways you don’t learn to meditate in the conventional sense.

Sure you take on and develop a new life changing skill but it’s not an additional thing you can knowingly add to your skills list on Linked In.

Meditation is a process of removal. A process of un-learning.

A good meditation teacher knows that its only possible to plant the seed. You have to prepare the ground and tend to it to make the seed flourish.

Like a farmer preparing the ground for new crops meditation sets the condition for natural growth from below the surface.

From the inside out!

Un-learning is harder than learning.

Just learning to stop, purposefully, through meditation will remove older patterns of being.

Imagine having to unpick what you think you know and open up to a level of awareness that has been there all the time but which has been covered over and ignored even though this other experience is the real you.

You can’t decide to use mediation to make you a better hedge fund manager. But you can decide to use meditation to help you a more authentic version of yourself. Then you may indeed become a brilliant hedge fund manager or perhaps a poet.

Who knows? It happens a lot.

When you un-learn you remove those obstacles that get in the way of you being you. The un-learning is not linear. It’s iterative, as we like to say in design business. It can be a convoluted, obscure and winding process. But it is always in the right direction.

So stick with it.

You will see that by just letting go with purpose, settling the mind by watching, embodying the moment you get your first glimpse into a deeper sense of being. You then begin to drop old ways of thinking, old way of being and doing.

Not in a planned way. It just happens.

Then there is a huge moment when you realise that your body and mind are one thing. Which can be used to do wonderful things.

Your thoughts or your body does not limit you.

Learning to meditate is like learning to swim. The benefit is in the doing of it. You can read about swimming but you will never how to do it, how it feels until you get into the water.

This is why its tricky learning to meditate from a book or an app. You have to get in the water, which means being with others and your teacher. So how do you know its working…that you are un-learning? We’ll here are just a few factors that might arise as the obstacles fall away:

You start to live less in your head and more in your body. When you live in your body you are living right in the now.

Those moments of inexplicable joy increase.

Your senses open. I mean really open. You see the world in HD.

Problems and challenges seem to come at you in slow motion.

Your energy increases.

Those little aches and pains fall away.

You wake up. You feel less tired.

All work and activity becomes effortless and fulfilling

And finally creativity flows from you out into the world.

And then you say to yourself…

‘Did I do that?’

Yes. You did!

Real Yoga Real People Real Life at Chorlton Central

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