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A tale of serendipity in Dublin first featured on my Intuitive Vision Board

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I recently took a random call from a good friend with a random outcome.

Four days later I’m flying to Dublin for the weekend, all expenses paid, as a kind of tour guide!  I'm to discover the hidden gems of Fingal on the northern shores of Dublin during a music festival in honour of Séamus Ennis, a genius for his uilleann pipe playing. 

The craic
On arrival I am to be collected at the airport.  One hour later my male escorts had still not showed. That’s because they’d gone to departures! That's Irish right?
 
I was taken to nearby Skerries, a charming fishing village where I enjoyed my first taste of real Guinness in a fisherman's pub that has been looking out to sea forever.   I took a photo of the charming boats. I ask you. Do you see any resemblance to the image on my vision board I’d created 11 months earlier when a trip to Ireland was completely off my radar?  A lovely example of precognition.

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That’s my daughter there too if you’re wondering.  She plays her part in this mystery.  Back home when I’d contemplated this section of my vision board, Denmark kept coming to mind.  I’d even thought I might go to Copenhagen but hadn’t got around to it.  Celine, on the other hand, did - this summer! Not that she’d planned to do so when I’d pasted her up onto my board next to the colourful boats.  Curious isn't it?

It also transpires that Fingal is historically linked with Denmark because the Vikings decided to land here.  I also learnt from the Irish organiser she has a sister living in Denmark, and suggested I might visit her.  The plot thickens....   

Meanwhile, if you’re wondering where you might go next year, come and make a vision board with me on 25th November and all will be revealed.  I’ll show you how to side-step the conscious mind and engage with the unconscious through active imagination and access this extraordinary intelligence we all have but so seldom tap.

More 'Irishness' to follow....  
 After Skerries I was dropped outside my hotel to chill. At check-in the owner asks for my name but says the only reservation he has is for Mary and Jerry.  “I really don’t want to share with Jerry,” I said smiling, “I want my own room.” 

At this point it’s clear I’ve been dropped off at the wrong hotel - and this one is full. I then sit tight to wait for the men to return (2 ½ hours later) to take me out to dinner.  I kept myself entertained listening to the gorgeous Irish brogue and their wonderful sense of humour, while the owner plied me with drinks and snacks on the house. The meal that followed in an ancient pub was fresh and delicious.

Next day, I’m required for a family fun-run.  However my lift is late fetching me and by the time we arrive at the fun-run, everyone has run off and the school hall is empty.  The two of us decided to walk part of the course and pass the lead runners on their way back yet apparently I am still required to give away the prizes. 
 
‘It put the heart crossway in me to hear it’ as I’m introduced as “Mary, who has come all the way from the London Athletics club to support this event.” I look just about the least athletic among them, especially as I didn’t even manage to run the course.
 
We’re on the road again, destination Fourknocks.  This is awesome - a Neolithic site that predates Stonehenge, yet we’re the only people there.  The key to this ancient burial mound resides with Eileen down the road and if you don’t get on the right side of her, she won’t let you have it.  There’s no charge.  No supervision.  Just the four of us under the ground, marvelling at the abstract art painted on the interior walls 5,000 years ago.  

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Afternoon tea follows in a lovely artistic café.  Then to round it all off we’re at the music festival in the pub listening to pieces that Séamus Ennis would have been proud of.  A 15-piece band spanning five generations of musicians, the youngest about eight.  

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When my hostess finally left me at the airport (she didn’t entrust this to men this time), my flight is cancelled due to fog.  No more flights that day so Aer Lingus kindly put me up in a comfortable hotel and treated me to a splendid dinner.
 And since I had to wait 12 hours before I could fly home, I’m also due a £200 refund too.  I think I should invest this in a flight to Copenhagen don’t you - and follow the signs.

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What to do when the plan doesn't work.  Make an Intuitive Vision Board

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What to do when the plan doesn't work. Make an Intuitive Vision Board

Create a buzz

Create a buzz

When my plan wasn’t working

Once upon a time, when my micro business was only a few months old, I was feeling overwhelmed by the myriad of tasks I needed to do. I’d already created my website, which was a marathon in itself. But I still had a list as long as my arm of tasks I didn’t have the skills for. Rather than wallow in misery, I did what I know best. I made an Intuitive Vision Board.

Smack bang in the middle of it was the large head of a Buddleja, otherwise known as the ‘butterfly plant’. You can guess why; it's a magnet to butterflies. Alongside I’d pasted the words:  “create a buzz”.

I had no rational reason for choosing a Buddleja but it was no surprise either because this is my creative process: to purposefully set out to distract my left-brain in order to have a conversation with my right-brain. This required me to let go of what I thought I should be doing by choosing pictures to represent this and allow the images to choose me. I wanted to open the windows and let some fresh air in.

The next day when I re-visited my vision board, I chuckled to see the Buddleja because the first thing I thought of was a hand-held microphone.   Little did I know …


Serendipity

Within seven months of creating this Intuitive Vision Board, here’s what transpired - absolutely none of which I’d considered or planned for beforehand.  Yet all of these, as far as I could tell, had some association with the ‘hand-held microphone’ and finding my public voice.

* I started writing newsletters and blogs regularly

* I appeared on TV for the first time talking about intuitive vision boards

* I had three separate interviews on the radio

* I began writing my book about Intuitive Vision Boards

* I sang my first-ever solo on stage in front of 150 people

* I made three commercial videos

On the air with Emma-Jane Taylor on Oxford TV

On the air with Emma-Jane Taylor on Oxford TV

At the same time I was intrigued to discover I actually had a large Buddleja growing at the entrance to my property, which I'd not noticed before because I’d moved house in the depths of winter.  

During the summer, while I was in full swing with the book writing, 30 large blooms formed a protective arch for me to pass under - a constant reminder of my current focus to create a buzz.


Risk

From a psychotherapy point of view the Buddleja on my intuitive vision board was a transformational symbol. At the same time it was directing me towards the most effective route to develop my business.  I had not previously considered any of those “microphone activities” yet as they came into my awareness, I tried them on - even when it was a stretch, involved a small risk, and an element of fear.

And what had my logical left-brain (LL) planned for me to be doing instead before my remarkable right-brain (RR) stepped in and redirected the course of history with the Intuitive Vision Board?  

It sinks my spirits just to recall the massive ‘to do list’ I faced every day, systematically addressing tasks I found tedious - like mastering each social media platform in turn and writing a business plan. My progress was slow and I was very frustrated. If I’d made a vision board in the traditional way to reflect the intentions I’d set for myself, it would have looked very different from the one I created.  

I’m not suggesting the logical left-brain is now redundant or the tasks on my “to do list” are not valid, ever. It’s simply these decisions were being taken too early by LL when it’s strength is not to propose solutions that provide a quantum leap forward. LL needs to be at the service of RR otherwise the outcome will always be limited.


It’s not LL’s fault; it can’t help itself. It only works with data that is known already, which has been speculated accounts for a mere 5-8% of our available intelligence.  RR on the other hand has access to that vast, awesome sea of possibility and a rich treasure trove of ideas and inspiration, which is the other 92% of our available intelligence.  Therefore by engaging RR in making my intuitive vision board, I entertained ideas that had never entered my conscious awareness before. And these RR nudges added momentum to my business life more effectively than all my LL thinking put together.

The Intuitive Vision Board is not a panacea but it certainly provided me with the best guidance I needed at this time. There is so much I could share with you about this particular intuitive vision board but I’ll settle for one final image, which also changed the face of my business.


Manifesting Woman-Friday

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See the man above sat at the desk alongside the Buddleja?   When I first saw him I thought: he’ll do, he looks busy and creative to me but not a suitable romantic partner.”  Then I had the subsequent thought:  “He’s working for me.  He’s my Man Friday!”  

Until then I had not considered employing anyone in the foreseeable future.  Like many micro business owners, I didn’t think I could afford to.  But acting on this RR nudge, I posted an advertisement on-line.  It said:  “Wanted. Part-time Man-Friday to provide computer and social media expertise to a struggling creative.”

I had three replies within a day.  The first came from a man who looked like the image on my board and helped me over some initial hurdles. The second reply came from a woman who lived three minutes walk away. She offered to be my Woman-Friday and has been working for me every since.  

Am I grateful for Deborah?  Yes!   Could I afford her? No, my LL still proclaims!  But I went ahead and defiantly afforded her anyway. Her presence has allowed me to progress much faster than my scrabbling around trying to do everything myself.  The third reply was from another talented candidate, by the way.  

Do you see how this works?  

I didn’t make the vision board to reflect previously conceived ideas of what I thought I should be doing otherwise this exercise would be little more than goal-setting using pictures. There’s nothing wrong with the latter and it is more common but, it has limitations which you now understand.

Neither am I saying this style of vision board can’t work; it can.  But when the linear intelligence of LL alone decides what images should be on your board, it can’t take into account the biggest picture. Consequently you could potentially be focusing on the wrong things.  

And, if you've decided in advance of making your board what your goals and aspirations are, you’ll need to rely on your will-power alone to pummel them into existence.  The alternative is to align with super-consciousness via your intuitive vision board because then you align with universal intelligence and its will-power is limitless.

May the force be with you 

My recommendation is to get out of your own way.  Open up to your innate intuitive intelligence and allow your imagination free-range when it comes to making your intuitive vision board. Be excited and curious about the images that appear.  

And then make sure you stay alert to the gentle promptings to action you’ll receive in the subsequent months ahead.  Don’t ignore them just because they seem inconvenient to LL who will try to convince you to wait for a more opportune moment.  Do it anyway.   At least be curious enough to do something with the guidance you receive, otherwise it's like uncovering hidden treasure and then throwing it away.

Don't expect an overnight result from this creative process either.  It took me seven months in this example for the vision to complete its form. There is a perfect moment when it comes to manifesting a vision when providence moves with you too - but in its own time and on its own terms.  In the interim, it pays to cultivate patience, which is something I had to learn but now I’ve come to trust.

VISIT MY EVENTS PAGE for Intuitive Vision Board workshop dates. Private workshops can be arranged by request.

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Anna's Intuitive Vision Board attracts gold

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Anna got lucky with her first Vision Board. She cut out a circular piece of gold foil which resembled a coin.  She didn't know why she'd chosen it but was intuitively drawn to do so.  Four weeks later she received an envelope in the post from the People’s Post Code Lottery with a gold coin on it. It bore an uncanny resemblance to the one on her Vision Board. 

Thrilled she was next to receive a cheque for £5,800.  And unbeknown to him, her son is getting his first set of wheels this Christmas.

To discover what gold your destiny has in store for you, come and make a Vision Board with me.  Your gold may not be as literal as Anna's.  It may be something like an unexpected career change, a house move, or an addition to the family.  If you're wondering what a Vision Board is, there is more information about them below.  

If it's a year or more since you made your last Vision Board that's a good interval in which to consider making another.  Any students in your family seeking clarity about their study options or a boost to their self-confidence, this creativity workshop provides the ideal space for addressing this.  Full details are on my open Events page - www.mary@marynonde.com.

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What is a Vision Board?
A Vision Board is a collage of images you cut out randomly from magazines and stick down with Pritt Stick.  And what images!

The Vision Board will turn out to be a veritable treasure trove, speaking to you about all the things, activities and places that can lead you to authentic joy and prosperity.  Contrary to what you might imagine, the images are not literal representations of what you're about to manifest in your life.  They're more likely to be signs and metaphors which point the way towards what it is you truly need to be happy and fulfilled rather than the item itself.

These symbolic images are super-special because they unlock doors to your subconscious and unconscious intelligence and the potential lurking there beyond your wildest imaginings.

It’s very tempting to jump to first conclusions about what the pictures on a Vision Board mean.  But this can stop you explorer deeper.  It's better to sit patiently longer with the unanswered questions raised by the Vision Board - until the answers come to you rather than chasing after them in the customary way.  It's fascinating how the creative mind works.

A Vision Board is a gift to be treasured - and that's why it makes such a wonderful present too.  It's a personal development tool with value and longevity beyond the actual workshop itself.  By the very act of creating it, you will have woven a web of interconnecting possibilities and paved the way for serendipity and magic to begin.
 
Warm wishes Mary

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What does empty space on an Intuitive Vision Board mean?

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Simon is a professional Tai Chi teacher.  Like so many of us, he wanted to experience more “spaciousness and presence” in his life and “achieve a better balance between work and family life and not get so bound up in knots”. 

During the Intuitive Vision Board Workshop it can feel quite luxurious to take all the time you need to flick through magazines without an agenda; to savour choosing and arranging images without pre-planning or censorship.  Working at this leisurely pace, allows the creative side of our brain to open up like a flower and inspiration and innovation to get through to you.

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Towards the close of the workshop when others were finished and presenting their boards, Simon  had considerable empty space on his and a pile of images still to sort through.  As a seasoned vision board facilitator I’m perfectly happy to see these empty spaces, knowing there will be good reason for it which the unconscious mind knows the reason for and the conscious mind has yet to catch up and comprehend.  Simon, however, left feeling disgruntled and talked about finishing his board at home.

One image had caught my eye right in the centre of his board.  It ‘felt’ edgy and slightly controversial and I felt happy and sad to see it there. Days later I had a niggling concern that Simon was not in love with his board (which most people are with theirs) and I wondered if it was to do with the image at the heart of it.  I got in touch and hoped I could help him arrive at a more positive inclination towards the image. 

Another two months were to elapse before we finally got together for an in-depth session.  To my surprise the first thing I noticed was the controversial image had disappeared.  The second surprise was that most of the empty space on the board had been filled.  I was puzzling over this when Simon announced: “I’m delighted with my board now it’s finished.”

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I'd enjoyed seeing the gaps on Simon’s board and the space he’d left around many of the images.  To me it resonated with his desire to increase the number of pauses between activity and to enjoy more a leisurely pace and to be at peace. 

The gaps had now been filled with more literal representations of spaciousness such as the cosmos and the depths of the ocean.  

The absent image had been of a young boy with Downs syndrome wearing a gas mask and flippers on his hands and feet.  It was a joyful picture and made me smile because he looked so present and happy.  But I appreciated it ran close to the mark since Simon’s son also was a Downs boy. 

Simon remembered the image as well but could not account for its disappearance. 
Another little boy had appeared to join the images which represented other family members he said and spoke to me of their collective desire to have a more playful attitude to life. 

Since there were nine images of bathrooms on his board, we also explored how important it was for Simon to create a watery retreat for himself in the home.  With my Feng Shui hat on, we took a closer look at the neglected bathroom and I advised him how to transform it into a floating haven that resonated with the floating motif that ran through the ‘spine’ of his board. 

By the time I left Simon was happily reunited with his vision board. The empty space had been filled in an acceptable way to him while the mysterious disappearance was to remain a mystery.

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The Feng Shui case for cheating on your partner

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With not a moment to lose and while his car is still crawling down the driveway do you open the back door to your clandestine visitor.

There she is the Feng Shui lady.  She arrives complete with a set of mirrors for all occasions and a three-legged frog that doesn’t need a pond and will sit happily with a coin in its mouth at your front door to encourage prosperity. Seconds later she's assembled her trolley to remove all the stuff you're about to part with into the skip that’s arriving any minute now.  You're spending the day together and there's much pleasure in store.  

There are too many messy people living in your house and it’s driving you insane.  When you try and explain to the messy people their behaviour is lowering the value of your property and reducing the quality of your life together it falls on deaf ears. That's why you've succumbed to this illicit rendezvous. 

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That’s even before you've mentioned the “chi” word to them and how important it is for life-force energy to arrive at your door in a good mood and to move unhindered throughout the house.  They’re too absorbed in their own worlds and oblivious to the effect their dumping around the place is having.  It’s one darn shoe after another.  If you wait for everyone's approval to rectify the problem - or expect them to do it - you'll wait a lifetime.

As the person who does care and is aware of the impact this is having on everyone under the same roof, it’s time to assume your title as Facilities Manager and start kicking arse around here before the river of chi bursts its bank.  The cost of a Feng Shui correction is a snitch compared with 360 days wear and tear on the property - and on your psyche. 

What school, college or University do you know that allows its pupils to bring whatever they want into the building and plonk it wherever they like - and wander off?  What organisation do you know that allows paperwork to high rise on surfaces, dirty dishes to pile up on tables, and clothes to trail across the floor?  Furthermore they employ cleaning angels who breeze through the premises overnight working to the remit of the Facilities Manager preventing the river of life silting up and business grinding to a halt.

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Once upon a time I lived with a hoarder.  Thank goodness he now lives on the other side of the channel because I swear he’d star in Britain’s Biggest Hoarders.    We met just as I was completing my Feng Shui training and took up residence together.  The irony was I owned the house but his stuff occupied two-thirds of it.

Repeated attempts to have him pare down led to no progress at all.  So I had to cheat on him and enrol the help of my lover, Hestia, the Greek Goddess of the Hearth, to come to my aid.

Repeated attempts to have him pare down led to no progress at all.  So I had to cheat on him and enrol the help of my lover, Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth, to come to my aid.

True confessions.  For one whole week while he was away on a training programme I beavered away.  I didn’t just tackle his stuff, I finely-tuned my own.  I didn't remove anything of his you could absolutely describe as valuable and sentimental.  Besides what is more valuable than your physical, mental and emotional health and this behaviour was an early indication of dis-ease.  Call me a wicked witch if you like but I’d had enough.  Besides how could I go forth into the world as a Feng Shui consultant when my own home wasn’t in order.

Towards the end of the final day with the third car load full to straining and my partner due home within the hour, I was ready to make the last trip to the skip.  But where’s the car key?  Where’s the bl**dy car key?  It could be anywhere in this junkyard.  Was this my guilty conscience playing a trick on me or my partner getting his own back for cheating on him?  Thankfully Hestia came to my rescue before a melt down and I drove away with a sense of relief.

What did my partner say on his return?  Absolutely nothing.  He felt the difference in the home for sure but was mindfully unaware of what the cause was to the same degree he had been mindfully unaware there had been a problem in the first place.  Best of all he never reproduced such a surplus while we were together - but he’s obviously gone downhill since. 

“I wouldn’t be happy if she did that to me,” I can hear muttering in the background.  My response to that is:  Well live on your own then.  What makes one person more important than the other members of the household they allow their stuff to dominate the home? 

And when your life is compromised by another who is not taking responsibility for theirs there is a case for cheating on your partner  - or evacuate the building.  Since by default you are the Facilities Manager of the home (because somebody has to be) then why not step up and get on and do a good job.  And may the flow be with you.

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Why everyone should commit an imprisonable offence

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Someone asked me recently:  Would you ever commit an imprisonable offence? 

The question came at me from nowhere and took me aback.  That's why I'm trying it out on you.  My first instinct was to say ‘never’ and then I paused and thought about it.

Does time in prison automatically mean you’re in the wrong or make you a bad person?  What about Nelson Mandela?  Or the Suffragettes to pick an example from both sexes?  Their willingness to take a stand for what they believed in, even when it was considered imprisonable at the time changed the course of history. 

I think most of us would like to think we could make a difference if only in a small way.  would we risk the iron bars for it?

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I was wondering if there’s something - just a little smidgen of a subject - you quietly get fired up about but avoid doing anything about it because it's seems too much effort.  Perhaps it also goes against the collective grain and therefore it's more comfortable to stay quiet than speak out. 

The problem with this is you're also closing the door on your special brand of genius.  Just because others lack your wisdom and insight in this matter means you are exactly the right person to educate them by taking the lead.  This is your passion and purpose right there.  

Besides how will you know what your edge looks like unless you go there and therefore how potent you are?  I’m not advocating you commit an imprisonable offence, I’m just encouraging you to have a little brush with it.   

Food for thought,  Mary

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Do negative things appear on an Intuitive Vision Board?

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I sometimes get asked whether negative things appear on vision boards.  The answer is ‘no’ having watched over a thousand Intutive Vision Boards being made.  I’ve witnessed People ambivalent about images they’d chosen but if there was some attraction for them I'd encourage the images to remain and see where they led them. Here’s an example.

I worked with three directors of a company each producing their own Intuitive Vision Board and I coached them afterwards as a team.  Curiously, two of the three had strong eruptive images - one permeated the backdrop to their entire vision board and the other had an image pushing upwards from the baseline. Neither of them had an explanation for this at the time, which is perfectly normal.  These are ideas and inspirations arising from the unconscious, creating a bridge between what is unknown and that which is yet to happen.  In time the significance of this eruptive theme would become clear.

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Three months later the relationship between the three partners erupted, resulting in one of them quitting the business and leaving the other two reeling.  

Retrospectively you could point to the aforementioned images on their vision boards as negative portents. 

Or you could re-perceive these as a significant sign that something needed to surface and dissipate to enable the company to organise itself differently. This is not negative in my view, it’s constructive – a Kali influence, the Hindu goddess that bring things birth or death whichever is most needed for life.

 

So what is it about my approach to vision boards that produces this authentic outcome rather than something that has to appear nice and rosy?  It’s in the way I prepare people during the first half of the workshop to step into their most creative Self to make the Vision Board in the second half of it. 

Head versus heart
There is a significant difference between a vision board made with the head and led by the Ego as opposed to a vision board made with the heart and led by the Soul.  The former produces a predictive outcome, limited to information that is already known in conscious awareness.  While a vision board made from the Soul is connected to the wider field of infinite intelligence and reaches for ideas beyond the scope of our rational mind.  The advancement of humanity depends on us accessing more of this greater intelligence now.

Who creates the Intuitive Vision Board?
In my workshops (and they take a full four hours), I use a number of exercises designed to relax the hold the Ego has on our decision-making process.  If not the Ego will always step in, only too ready to contribute its views on what we should or shouldn’t be doing with our lives.  It doesn’t stop with us either; it will pass comment on anybody or anything that crosses its line of vision.  To hear the quieter voice of the Soul above the noisy cut and thrust of 21st century lives, we must endeavour to become more mindfully attentive and wholeheartedly present. 
 

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Soul
I don’t have the absolute definition of Soul because the more you attempt to pin it down the more allusive it becomes.  I consider Soul to be the spiritual or immaterial aspect of being human; the part that is immortal.  It’s our characterful essence, the spark of individuality which bears our special gifts and comes complete with quirks, imperfections and some dysfunctionality, also part of being human.

Soul is more engaged with the process of life and the quality of our experiences.  It’s trajectory rarely follows a straight line and cannot be pre-determined in advance.  Soul is attuned to our universal assignment – what we are uniquely here to do and contribute to the whole.  We can miss out on permitting the genius of Soul to shine through in our lives when we allow ourselves to be driven by some other agenda, which we is not our own.

When it comes to making an Intuitive Vision Board, Soul likes to peruse the magazines at leisure.  It loves to dawdle, not looking for anything in particular.  Soul favours pictures to words because these are less definitive and there is more scope to feed the imagination.

Soul is not interested in goal setting.  The images that appeal suggest and implicate and are of a more poetic and mystical nature.  Less black and white; more shades of grey. If we clutch too literally at their meaning and grasp so tightly the blood drains out of them, the guidance contained therein becomes elusive too.  We are being goaded at the very deepest levels of our being, although we may not – and may never know - what is occurring until after it has happened.  Then comes the ‘aha’ moment.

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Ego
I don’t have a definitive answer for Ego either but I recognise it as the constant chatter that goes on in our head – sometimes out loud, mostly internal, delivering a whole string of false evidence appearing real (FEAR). 

It’s the voice of "I want, I deserve, I am entitled to...".  It's also the voice of judgement, criticism and opinion, totally convinced of the validity of its choices from its perspective.

 The Ego is focused on the self with a small "s".  Here is the master planner at work, predetermining what our life should look like and all the accoutrements to be gathered along the way as evidence of our success and achievement.  It loves to compares our advancement to the next person because this feeds it's sense of self-importance.

If left to its own devices the Ego will already have decided before the making of the vision board begins what should be on there and on the day is looking for the best images to represent its ideas.  Ego may go straight to the handbag it believes you must have but as soon as you've got it will have you hankering after the next “I want”.  This chase won’t produce lasting fulfilment or bestow value and purpose to your life.  It may bestow a short term gratification but may not necessarily help you evolve or make a contribution to the spiritual evolution of humanity. 

The ends justify the means from the Ego’s point of view and it's prepared to walk all over another or destroy the planet in its wake to get what it wants.  We see evidence for this in politics, economics and religion.  Closer to home, we see evidence for this in our own families. It’s reptilian behaviour and reflects a lower level of evolution.

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When something that isn’t so pretty appears on a vision board, I encourage the creator to rejoice and to leave it alone.  It may have a darker connotation and point to what in psychotherapy is referred to as the ‘shadow’ side, but this doesn’t mean it’s negative and to be avoided or censored.

It may well represent a mystery currently hidden from conscious awareness yet be exactly what you need to do - or receive next - to unlock your destiny by exposing the very something that is blocking your light.

 

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Stuck in a rut? Then start decluttering.

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From time to time it's not uncommon for even a person with the most positive attitude to life to run out of wind.  Here's an account of what Suzanne did when she found herself stuck in the doldrums.

Suzanne is a creative - a storyteller, poet, dancer and author who loves to inspire and educate using the visual arts. It's been her passion since childhood but when we began working together, Suzanne felt stuck in her career and only sporadically pursuing those things that make her heart sing.  While fortunate to be supported by a partner who gave her free range to be herself, it was also the case that after 28 years together their relationship was in the doldrums too.  

Behind closed doors
The overarching impression I formed of Suzanne's first vision board was the need for movement.  Evidence for this was in the repeating butterfly motifs (associated with the element air: thoughts) and sea creatures (associated with the element water: emotions and the imagination).  These motifs had already begun to work their way into her writing.  

As we sat in her working environment at home, which doubled up as the lounge, the energy felt flat.  Behind closed cupboard doors and more evidently on book shelves, some serious de-cluttering was needed to bring movement into her life. Making space would also generate a vacuum into which new ideas and opportunities could flow and take shape.

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Eat that frog!
I encouraged Suzanne to start each day by ‘eating the frog’: half an hour’s de-cluttering to get it out of the way and to lift her spirits. We began right away with some paperwork and I left her with a prioritised task list to add momentum. Last count after the blitz, 17 kilos had been taken for professional shredding.

Books and paper sit heavily in our space, weighty consumers of life-force energy; think about all the trees that contributed to their production, all the intellectual thought that has gone into the content.  In libraries we take comfort from this feeling of substance while in the home or office too much of this can be a barrier to progress.  

Shedding her skin
Clothes were her next target.  To help Suzanne select what to keep I invited her to imagine she was shedding an old skin and only wanted to retain clothes and personal effects which truly expressed who she was becoming.  A large bin liner filled easily.

Three years passed and Suzanne returned to make a new vision board, ready to explore the “what next?” question through the making of it.  In the interim, impressive creative progress had flowed into the vacuum she'd created.  A series of poetry performances had been delivered, two books published, and she'd begun working with children with learning difficulties. However, she was now feeling a bit isolated working alone.  She craved company and interaction and was contemplating a part-time job to combat this.

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Daring and courageous
It’s important to acknowledge Suzanne's proactive part in this progress.  Courageously, she had risen to the opportunities as they presented themselves and not talked herself out of them.  

Now, reviewing the images on her current vision board together in the context of her unfolding story, an exciting direction began to emerge.  It was time to convert all her efforts of recent years into an arts-based learning programme that could be taught in Colleges and Universities.   Not only would this satisfy her need for contact, she’d also be rubbing shoulders with her intellectual peers which she'd find stimulating.

More frogs…
Before we parted, Suzanne had identified another de-cluttering blitz was required in order to clear space for her new project.  There were also several signs on her vision board that a house move was calling but she was more in favour of making changes to the existing home instead.  From a Feng Shui perspective, I intuitively felt this was not the best solution since the existing home would struggle to adapt sufficiently to her evolving vision.  I also felt a change of home would serve her partner too and ultimately their relationship.
Time will tell.

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A Message From The Gods...

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In Greek mythology, Asclepius, son of Apollo, is the God of healing and medicine with his daughters, Hygiea and Panacea, as cohorts.  The remains of his largest healing sanctuary is at Epidaurus in the Peloponnese and there’s another accessible site on the island of Kos.

In ancient Greece when a person had lost their way and their health was out of sorts, friends and family packed them off to one of these sacred Ascelpion sites.  Exhausted, bored, grieving, discouraged... whatever their symptoms the underlying motivation was always the same: take time-out or burnout.

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By night, resting in the innermost temple of Asclepius, the seeker would await the transformational dream that would change their life.  Non-venomous snakes also shared this sacred space with them and that's how the two entwined serpents has become our symbol for medicine.

I like to think there are similarities between the Asclepion experience and my Soul Alive Retreat which also gives people space to regroup and re-balance. I use creativity, mindfulness and somatic arts to awaken the active dream state and we don’t wait until nightfall to receive messages from the gods. Oh, and I leave out the snakes!

Why enter this dream state anyway?  Because this is where we gain new perspectives, innovative answers to insoluble problems, and can dislodge habitual behaviours.  By accessing this right side of the brain we avoid our over-dependence on the rational mind, which keeps churning out the same-old ideas ad infinitum hoping this time around they'll provide the answer. 

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I've secured the exclusive use of a beautiful villa near the sea for next year's Soul Alive.  It's situated on the southernmost tip of the Iberian peninsula, where the Mediterranean sea meets the Atlantic, in the lovely Andalusian fishing village of Tarifa. 

Take a look at the Tarifa slide show and I hope you'll be as enthused as I am. Besides the fully-facilitated retreat, the facilities include both indoor and outdoor studios and both indoor and outdoor swimming pools.  Get your body moving, what!  But if rest is what you need most then there's plenty of time and space for that too.

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The 6-day retreat starts Sunday 6 May 2018 in the morning and finishes Saturday 12th May 2018. The weather should be perfect then for both inner and outer exploration and the hillsides covered with wild flowers while the beaches will be empty.  

I like to host small group retreats to ensure everyone receives plenty of personal attention to help bring about the necessary shifts this time-out together can deliver. Here's one woman's experience of Soul Alive this year: 
 

"I had no idea how deeply exhausted I was when I went on Mary’s retreat. At the beginning of the 6 days I actually felt stressed-out at the thought of being away for so long, it was hard to let go. By the end of the week I was feeling very different."
 
"I really enjoyed the combination of self-awareness work and having trips out to the surrounding beautiful areas, somewhere different every day. The fact that all the tours, the workshop facilitation, accommodation, food and transfers were included in the price made it feel like great value."

"Mary had a light touch in all this and spending part of each day out and about meant it never got intense. Nevertheless all of us did go deep; like me the others led busy lives and never gave ourselves time to take stock and reflect.  Mary’s experience and training in dealing with the strong but helpful emotions that sometimes came up meant we all felt safe.  It was a very supportive group, with a lot of wisdom and solidarity."

What you get for your money:

* A beautiful en-suite private room or shared en-suite room - your choice

* All meals including some dining out in Spanish restaurants 

* Airport transfers to and from Gibraltar airport 

* 5 movement sessions before breakfast (optional)

* 5 mornings of somatic arts workshops with group/peer coaching

* 5 afternoon excursions to explore the natural beauty of the area and absorb the Moorish/Andalusian culture (optional)

* On-site massage available as an extra

* Dolphin/whale watching is an optional extra.

* Pre- and post-retreat coaching check-ins to prepare for and integrate the retreat.

The retreat package is £1,700 (private room) or £1,500 (shared room). Flights, UK transfers, and travel insurance are on top.  

If you're feeling adventurous you might tag on some extra days to visit wonderful nearby towns like Seville, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga, Granada - or hop on a 30-minute ferry to Tangiers.
 
I’m taking reservations for Soul Alive already so please indicate if you might be interested.  Email mary@marynonde.com or text/call me on 0782 7017188.
 
Hasta la vista…. Mary

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Do what you love … love what you do

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I went to the Henley Traditional Boat Festival this summer.  I skipped the rowing Regatta and music festivals which preceded it to enjoy this quieter celebratory moment in the meadows by the river Thames.  Still colourful with champagne flowing and musical delights but less pomp and ceremony.  If I had my way I’d rename it the Henley Vintage festival because it’s so much more than boats.

Doing what they love I met ….

Lynden and his family of amphibious cars that he lovingly collects and restores then cruises down the Thames or drives along beside it, whichever takes his fancy.  And not forgetting to mention the other folk who paraded their lovingly-restored treasures previous owners had abandoned.

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Mary Jones who travels all the way from Liverpool with her gorgeous pre 60’s vintage clothes.  She buys them in the north of England where "they just don’t get it” and sells them down south where they do.  She was here by special invitation from Lady McAlpine who clearly appreciates the genuine item. 

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Queen Bee is an ecology teacher who uses her Punch and Judy platform to communicate her ecological concerns in a funny and memorable way.  Judy had taken sick that afternoon so I stepped in as her understudy ... that was before my encounter with the Dalek.

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Richard with his fleet of vintage Rolls Royce chauffeurs people to his vintage boats and then cruises them along the river to a salubrious eatery for lunch.  So passionate was he about these leisurely days out, he didn’t stop talking even when my eyes had disappeared into the array of homemade cakes in the tea room beyond.

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Glorianna the Queen’s boat came close to receiving more right Royal visitors as we trod her broad walk and admired her gold leaf façade while other boats passed her out.  But in the end it was Rufus who stole the throne.

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What’s your view?  Are these people just wacky with nothing better to do?  I don’t think so because what they all have in common is they love what they do.  Their heart and soul is in it and the activity absorbs them.  And in sharing their love with others they enjoy an unexpected freedom themselves.

The African Dagara believe each person has a certain cargo to deliver during their time on the earth.  I like that - and nothing provides more meaning and fulfilment than delivering this.  I'm sure that’s the reason there was such a vibrant vibe at this Festival - there was a lot of cargo being delivered.  

What do you love to do?  Really its worth musing on because for sure that’s when you’re most vibrant and alive – whether you’re providing a product, creating an experience, entertaining people or restoring something to its former glory.  It doesn’t have to be the thing you do for a living; the word ‘amateur’ comes from the Latin ‘amare’ and means to love.  

Lost touch with your amateur?  That’s understandable when we have allowed outer circumstances to impose its will upon us and steal so much of our attention.  If you'd like to remember what cargo you're here to deliver, please join me to make a Vision Board on one of my workshops and all will become clear.  The images you chose for your large inspirational collage will have jumped off the pages at you shouting ‘me, me, me’.  You won’t be able to resist them.  By embracing what they are nudging you towards you will be irresistible too.

Irresistibly yours,  Mary

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Look out Rick Stein!   We have the Feng Shui advantage.

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The Feng Shui advantage

When I was invited down to Rick Stein’s gourmet metropolis in Cornwall for a Feng Shui assessment of a new café/restaurant opening there, I leapt at the chance.  As I stepped off the bus at Padstow and walked towards the quay my heart skipped a beat.  Directly in front of me was an image similar to the ones in the centre of my current Vision Board.  Up until now I hadn’t realised what I’d been looking at were lobsters, although I assumed it was a sea creature of some description.  Now I'm stood right opposite the lobster ‘maternity ward’ at the Marine Conservation centre and I’m left in no doubt.  “I’m in the right place then,” me thinks.

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Predecessors
When Sharon and Ian took over Greens café as a going concern, they picked up the baton from two local families who had established it nearly 20 years earlier, along with the crazy golf course above it.  It’s located at the far side of the harbour in North Quay and has a view to die for.  However catering had been limited to homemade cakes and serving tea.

10 years on the café was groaning under the additional footfall with people desperate to sit out on the terrace and no customer toilet on site. Once the 2016 season was over, it was time for Sharon and Ian to make their move.  The existing buildings were demolished and new footings laid for the café/restaurant that would provide more comfortable accommodation for customers and staff.

Cedar-clad and modelled on the style of a Scandinavian boat house with a pitched zinc roof, it has large windows that open up entirely onto the terrace with panoramic views of Padstow harbour and the Camel Estuary.  Quirky, warm, and with lots of interesting textures, it will certainly gain tops marks for good ‘hygge’ and receive a massive commendation for its creative verve.

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Created with passion, delivered with love
Cramming in extra covers to achieve more profit was not their prime motivation and because of this I’m sure it will be a rip-roaring success.  The comfort of guests and staff was uppermost and the need to address the limitations of the previous café.  There was a desire to broaden the menu of this family eatery to include vegan and gluten-free options.  Also a desire to lengthen the season so the local community might use the Café for other events and classes outside the peak tourist months. 

I wanted to visit on my own and make an initial Feng Shui assessment before meeting with Sharon the next day.  It was still very much a building site and I had come prepared in my walking boots and neeed to to be decked out in a hard helmet and a luminous green jacket.   The next day Sharon and I poured over the architect’s plans, the interior design visuals, and the proposed furniture and accessories.  I was very impressed with their imaginative colour schemes and the variety of thoughtful textures. 

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The 5 basic Elements – Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal

Green’s is an ambitious undertaking in three stages and I was here to review the first stage – the restaurant itself. 

Stage 2 will see a total revision of the Crazy Golf course which is currently a mound of earth at the back of the restaurant and will include a viewing platform over the estuary.

Stage 3 will be the addition of a typical Cornish garden open to the public on the uppermost tier of the site – a little Eden Project, both beautiful and educational.

 

My focus during this first visit was to review the location, the building infrastructure and the usage of the interior spaces; we had to consider the back of house hot-food kitchen, bakery and staff relaxation areas oftentimes neglected as well as the visible spaces to the public. Sharon's instinct was to avoid this. 

I assessed the general flow of energy throughout the whole site and paid attention to the entrances - from the public footpath and into the restaurant itself (what we refer to as the ‘mouth of chi’) to make sure the flow is steady, well-directed and undeterred. 

I took into account the site aspect and its effect on the interior and how to balance this with appropriate colour, lighting and accessories. We discussed appropriate signage and enhancements using mirrors and planters to give direction to flow and to manage the flight paths of staff (serving both inside and outside the restaurant) and the arrival and departure of customers so the two worlds didn't collide. 

I called on the 5 Basic Elements to ensure overall balance relative to the building’s purpose.  In particular I wanted to make sure the essential nature of the enterprise (Wood element) was well represented and supported by its feeder (Water element) and not over-powered by its control (Metal element).  This was already beginning to happen from the plans and was rectified.  If this had continued, the enterprise would lose vitality and presence unnecessarily.

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I celebrated a thoroughly enjoyable job well done with a plateful of Rick Stein’s Fish and Chips.  But only after I’d visited thousands of baby lobsters, each smaller than my thumb nail, in their nursery. 

Fortunate was I to be in Padstow in May.  I’m told July and August can get so busy with people and pushchairs you could end up over the side of the harbour with the lobsters.

Greens of Padstow opens its doors on 21st July.  If you’re down that way I highly recommend you pay a visit.  It’s going to be AMAZING.  
 

And here’s the feedback from a happy client

“Thank you for your detailed and informative Feng Shui report and for sending it so promptly.  It was very useful to have before the staff meeting, and before our site progress meeting and the architect was really interested too. 

Your visit was timed perfectly to enable us to ‘tweak’ some of the materials we were using to more directly support the elemental aspects of the site.  It has also given us a good ‘steer’ for choosing the finishing touches that will bring everything together.

This process added another dimension to the whole building project, making it more meaningful – and somehow bringing it to ‘life’.  It has also raised our awareness to the energy of, and our intentions for, this new home for our ‘new’ business.

It felt like a very creative time we spent together, on site and in discussion before and after your visit, and I really appreciated your input.  It stimulated lots of ideas and took us in new directions too that I know will benefit the space.  Thank you!”

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Vive l'amour

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I bade a silent farewell to Le Presbytere - the 15th century property that seems always to welcome us with open arms, located as it is on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail.  This year's Retreat received a good omen even before I left Heathrow.  In ordering breakfast at Pret a manger, I distracted the server by chatting to her and she forgot to include the coffee.  When I came to pay she said "there's no charge".  Bemused I sat down and looked at my receipt which said:  "Joy giveaway".  Whether she was called Joy or it was the name given to this discretionary giveaway, my admiration for the brand went up a notch.

This year in the Tarn valley the weather was unseasonable HOT for June.  The swimming pool provided a welcome respite after a morning of reflective practice through somatic movement, creative arts and writing, enjoyed under the trees in the garden with the air full of the fragrance of roses in full bloom. Here's one woman's experience who is an HR Manager:

"Mary did a great job to try and meet everyone's individual needs.  The surroundings were just fantastic and I loved being with such wonderful, wise women.  I will never forget my time there.  What it has done for me, to coin an awful phrase, was to lance a boil.  And boy, oh boy did that boil need to be lanced! "

 

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 "When I got back I felt totally and utterly overwhelmed with everything - my grief for the recent loss of my partner, my son's long-term illness, other losses and also everything that's happened at work.  I realised I was so stressed that I went to see a Doctor and, for the first time in my life, have been signed off for two weeks with "stress and bereavement reaction".  

"I am giving myself time now to really heal.  I do meditation, my writing first thing in the morning as I did on the Retreat.  I'm seeing friends occasionally but mainly giving myself the space that's so needed.  The Retreat therefore was the tipping point for me to really focus on healing me."

During one of our daily late-afternoon excursions (this one to beautiful Albi), I sat in the palace grounds overlooking the river while the group visited the Toulouse Lautrec museum. 

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I was gobsmacked because that's exactly what we were doing on this Retreat as adults and delighted to learn this reflective practice is already embraced by young students across the pond.

A young American student came to sit beside me and got out a small watercolour set and started to paint. She had been given 40 minutes downtime to sit in silence and to reflect on what engaged her attention in the moment and to capture the essence of this on paper. She was from a special creative school in Boston and this was normal. 

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After six days of this heavenly lifestyle, I put the last remaining guests on the little train back to England (lol) and headed directly for the Languedoc coast in the black 'limousine', now a little over-sized for one person

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Once I spied the sparkling sea, I took a sharp right turn onto the A9 and headed for Collioure close to the Spanish border.  It's a very picturesque, historic harbour town encircled by a ring of mountains with a beautifully preserved castle and church, both on the waterfront. All the beaches are within walking distance, plenty of very good cafes and restaurants to choose from, and there's an abundance of artist and artisan shops to browse. 

As I sat sipping my cold beer in a beach bar on the first evening, I watched as a woman in her mid 70s arrived on the sand.  She was wearing full bikini briefs and a lacy bra, which restrained her copious breasts.  In full view of cocktail hour drinkers she took delight in spraying herself with water, graceful in the way she moved while her flesh bore all the marks and veins of a life well-lived.

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She wasn't the only older person enjoying the sea at this time of day.  The hours before sunset seem to attract all those for whom the sun is too bright during the day yet the water now at it's warmest.  It was a delight to behold.


She was however the only older woman to be photographed as she gracefully emerged from the sea.  A man in his 40's had also appeared on the beach brandishing a camera.  "Oh", I thought, "how lovely he's doing a photographic study of the older woman's body!" Then he put a towel around her shoulders and patted her dry.  "Oh, it's his mother", I thought "what a tender gesture that is!" And then they kissed on the lips...."Oh, ....!"

It was his turn to strip off, his body virgin-like in comparison to hers.  She held his camera as he hobbled over the stones to the sea, shivering as he took infant steps into the water, meeting the sea with resistance whereas she had met it with joy.  He lasted three minutes and she was waiting for him with the same towel to pat him dry. 

There must have 30 years between them and they were obviously in love.  Vive la France for being so liberal-minded in matters of love.  Vive l'amour.  Perhaps I should move to France to increase my chances.  

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Little-Known Feng Shui cure revealed

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Think of the room in which you regularly work or where you go to get your personal administration done. If it’s at home it’s likely to be your spare bedroom, which you share with the Christmas decorations and the toys the children have out-grown.  Sound familiar? 

Typically the desk faces the wall and the door is wide open behind you.  There’s probably a bed in there too with the ironing on it.  How motivated are you to get to work in here?  How easy is it to stay focused when it's not set up for business? 

If you work in an office consider a typical room you might congregate in for meetings. There are stark white walls, it relies on artificial lighting, it receives no fresh air and already smells stale from the previous occupants who, by the way, have also left their debris behind. The table is a long rectangle occupying the centre of the room with chairs crammed underneath it and there's just about enough space to circumnavigate the edge.  I'm reaching for the Anadin already ....

Now let’s take a peek at the main open-plan office.  How many people can you see with their desks facing the wall like they've run into a dead end - and with their backs to one another.  That's disengagement played out right there.

Meanwhile the rest of the gang are likely to blown around in the middle of the room like dust bowls, never sure from one day to the next where they’ll land in a hot-desk culture.  I wouldn't be surprised to learn that morale is low and staff accused of being unproductive.  The company will never get the best out of its people in this way. 

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Some of us are fortunate enough to start our working day on a life-enhancing note.  On the way we pass by green fields, we see trees, hear birds - all of which lifts our spirits if we raise our head long from the mobile phone.  A 10-minute walk around the block can achieve the same effect if we work from home or do the school run on foot.

Contrast this with the mad dash to work in the rush hour, partially underground to arrive at offices that are 15 floors up and look out onto a concrete landscape.  In this instance the company would need to work extra hard on the interior using Feng Shui methodology to create a space that feels more natural and healthy in which people can thrive. 

One of the operating system of Feng Shui is concerned with creating balance between the two opposites -  ‘yin’ (the feminine) and ‘yang’ (masculine).  When an environment is disharmonious – whether it’s a room or a whole office block – the people working there will not function well.  The company is paying for their salaries and a chunk of this is going straight down the drain in reduced effectiveness.  

Whether it’s through good quality lighting, a humane arrangement of furniture, the introduction of a water feature, enriching colour schemes, healthy plant life, inspiring artwork and accessories - or a combination of all of these and more - by paying mindful attention it doesn't take much to create a more harmonious environment that’s conducive to work in.

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I walked into an architectural award-winning office block once to do a Feng Shui consultation with an image consultant in tow, only to find the two receptionists wearing woolly cardigans.   She wanted to go straight up to them and sort them out.  I asked her why she supposed they had a need to dress like this in such a prestigious building.  She didn’t know.  So I took her on a quick tour of their high-tech environment through Feng Shui eyes.

The reception desk was like a tiny island floating in the middle of a vast open sea exposed to the elements.  Right opposite, where the two were seated, were large impressive, revolving doors.  While these were energy efficient and minimised drafts, for the women it was like sitting in front of a wind turbine and very disturbing.

Right behind them were two sets of lift doors, opening and closing constantly.  As the front line of the business, no wonder they felt vulnerable and exposed and needed to add 'yin' layers in the form of woolly cardigans to feel safe and protected.

The surrounding area in which they were seated could be described as very 'yang' – with strong angular lines, lots of harsh natural light and steel supporting structures.  The Feng Shui solution to obviate the need for woolly cardigans was to relocate the reception off to one side, to introduce softer, curvaceous lines in their desk area, utilise large healthy plants to screen the reception desk and warmer, softer tones to define their working area.  

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The seating area for waiting visitors was also exposed and needed similar treatment in order that visitors could arrive, feel welcome and relax.  

The purpose of a Feng Shui assessment is to enhance the quality and quantity of chi (life-force energy) in our living and working spaces.  For so many of us who are deprived of any natural experience during working hours, we risk returning home more depleted than we should be.  After a few months of this, along with the lack of protection from electromagnetic stress that saturates a typical working environment, can leave us wired and frazzled.

When the environment is clean, clear and vital people respond by feeling happy, motivated, productive, creative and engaged.  Absenteeism and staff turnover are minimised.  Clients and stakeholders enjoy visiting. The company becomes a magnet for success.  And the same goes for the office at home.

That's why Feng Shui makes perfect business sense even if it's difficult to pronounce!  
And why there's always room for a woolly cardigan as a stand-by Feng Shui enhancement.

Harmonious wishes to all, Mary

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What everyone needs to know about the value of "NO!"

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What everyone needs to  know about the value of "NO!"

Have there been times in your life when you’re doing too many things out of a sense of duty only to find yourself over-burdened by the complexity of the juggling act you are performing?  Or perhaps someone else you know springs to mind?

Rather than be able to take these responsibilities in your stride and gain some fulfilment from them, there's a point where it all becomes too much.  Big chunks of life are consumed in this way if you’re not careful.  Don't I just know it!

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I went through a period like this once that lasted for five years.  I became very adept at putting my significant other's needs ahead of my own in order to maintain the status quo while my owns lay languishing. Why? Because I was afraid of the uproar that would ensue if I didn’t - and the consequences of it.  It’s a weak reason I know but I didn’t know any better at the time and I was enslaved to the situation.  I kept myself busy so I didn’t have to face up to the fact I was being emotionally bullied and manipulated, trapped in a classically co-dependent relationship.  This realisation had not escaped my body however.

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I suffered from insomnia.  I got run down and regularly picked up colds, verrucae, fungal toe infection – all signs that my immune system was depleted. As I became increasingly dis-empowered by the situation, my confidence sank to an all-time low and my self-esteem plummeted; I no longer had a sense of who I was or where my real strengths lay. 

Why illness is the consequence not the cause
Medical studies have shown that when we suppress a “no” in favour of a “yes”, we go against ourselves and this is a form of self-attack.

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One of my teachers, Anna Halprin, an experimental dance-movement pioneer, discovered this while working with HIV/AIDS patients.

With their immune system compromised by HIV, their body was not able to defend itself sufficiently from infection and she found how difficult it was for them to say “no” in other areas of their life. 

She worked with patients using therapeutic dance-movement to strengthen their boundaries and help them express a clear “NO” and a convincing “YES”, with every fibre of their being.

This helped them to manage and sometimes reduce the number of infections they caught.

Stepping of the merry-go-round
That’s why I enjoy so much to help people find their genuine “YES” – their real passions, desires and motivations. 

When I was caught up in the web of co-dependence, the biggest obstacle was my logical left-brain.  It controlled my thinking and provided me with all the rationalisation and justification I needed for sticking with the status quo.
 
I needed to find a way to by-pass this voice and create space in my body-mind so that a deeper, more wholesome wisdom could get through. This proved difficult when my constant immersion in the detrimental situation prevented me from having access to an alternative viewpoint - so I kept going around in circles.  Now I'm able to recommend people find a moment to step off this merry-go-round by attending one of my workshops or retreats, which would have helped me greatly had I been able to do so.

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Taking downtime
When you take time for yourself along with a suitable guide what it is you need for your sanity and vitality comes sharply into focus.  I use reflective, creative enquiry to help you identify the people, places, and activities for you to welcome in with a resounding “YES”.  With this awareness it will become even clearer when you need to say “NO” as well. 

You won’t find this clarity while you continue to drill away at the coalface.  You’re much more likely to keep on drilling as I did and end up dead on your feet - and we don't want that.  

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Feng Shui - ancient practice or New Age nonsense? 

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I’ve been a Feng Shui practitioner for 21+ years. I qualified just before I became pregnant with Celine.  In the early days I used to take her around with me on jobs strapped in a sling.  One time I left home so fast to bundle her in the car that I forgot to put a nappy on her and had to wrap her delicate regions in my scarf. Tra la la ...

I'm very passionate about this ancient, universal practice and I'd like to share some of the wisdom and common sense behind it.  If I had my way I'd rename it living mindfully because it makes such an important contribution towards leading a healthy, wholesome life - a far cry from New Age nonsense.  

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Going with the flow
We're all familiar with the expression going with the flow, which is about adopting the path of least resistance. When we embrace the flow, things seem to miraculously fall into place and our lives evolve with less effort. 

 

When we go against the flow, other symptoms are instantly recognisable: we get sick, feel exhausted, and lack direction.  If this continues, we risk depression and burnout, which are increasingly evident in our frenetic world. 

Part of the flow solution requires significant changes to our lifestyle.  Another approach is pay closer attention to the spaces in which we spend most of our time. Living and working environments that are clunky and don't promote well-being, make additional demands on us - physically, mentally and emotionally.  When homes, offices, gardens and any sub-set of them are going against the flow, similar symptoms to those described above can affect the inhabitants.  Enter the dragon ...

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Good chi
Feng Shui is a practical and metaphysical tool used to promote health, wealth and well-being by improving the quality of our environment.  

At the heart of this practice is the recognition of chi or qi (life force energy) which moves invisibly through space and knowing how to cultivate it to our advantage.  There's a similar principle at work in practices such as Acupuncture, Yoga, Reiki, Tai Chi,  Shiatsu, Qigong, - the purpose of which is to open the channels (meridians, chakras, nadis) in the body for chi to flow more freely so that chi can reach and refresh all parts, like Heineken. 
 
When we neglect our homes and offices thinking we have other more important things to do, then we miss out on the opportunity to cultivate good chi and improve the quality of our life. 
 
Where there are constrictions or blockages to the flow of chi - such as inappropriately placed walls, too much furniture for the size of the room, and other unconscious clutter - our task is to remove these obstacles so that chi can flow more easily.  Since everything that appears to be solid all around us is actually atoms and molecules in motion (according to quantum physicists), then everything in our environment is worthy of mindful consideration from a Feng Shui perspective.

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Wind and water
The literal Chinese translation of the words Feng Shui means ‘wind and water’ and provides further understanding of this invisible phenomenon, still considered by some to be a fabrication of the imagination.  If we could go back in time and ask a Chinese farmer 3000 years ago where he would choose to site his home and grow crops, his answer would be couched in terms of Feng Shui - prevailing winds, proximity to water, aspect to the sun, and soil quality - because all of these would affect the quality of his life.
 
Ask a gardener today the same question and he would give a value judgement which included similar considerations.  To do a good job, both farmer and gardener need to be mindfully aware of where their land is situated in relation to life-sustaining elements.  The rest of us don't typically know and yet we are still at the effect of these all the same, even though we spend most of our time indoors.  

Suitably located wind and water delivers good chi - and most primitive cultures knew this and worked with Feng Shui in one way or another, although they each had their own name for it. The wisdom is therefore ancient, universal and timeless. 

Feng Shui for all
I would argue that our lives are lop-sided when we don't pay more attention to our relationship with the environment in which we are unfolding.  Feng Shui is not a philosophy since it encompasses many practical tools and techniques.  It's not a religion although some may consider it part of their spiritual practice.  It's not recognised as a science since its principles have not been proved by scientific method, although an electron microscope could reveal a thing or two about matter that appears so solid.  

I went to work for a scientific establishment both in their London and Monaco offices.  They had no problem at all understanding why management had employed a Feng Shui consultant to help them improve their business.

Feng Shui is an art - and when applied wisely can enhance our living and working spaces so that the life force energy that envelopes us works for us rather than against.

May the flow be with you.

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A woman's journey to wholeness...

A woman's journey to wholeness...

I describe here the inner journey undertaken by one woman.  How it began by her 'selfishly' risking to take timeout for herself.  How this investment fortified her body and soul for the subsequent years of transition that lay ahead. How the moral of this story is especially important if you’re a person who juggles a number of different - and sometimes competing - responsibilities and rarely enjoys a moment totally to herself.

 
Three summers ago Viktoria came on the Soul Alive Retreat – that year in Istria.  She was working full-time in financial services yet it wasn’t nurturing a single bone in her body, let alone making use of her natural creativity.  But she had two sons to raise and a husband to care for and domestic life was full on.  She came on the retreat to explore what she might do to change this state of affairs using the creative processes I offer.
 
The following year she joined me again for Soul Alive - that year in the Algarve.  She’d already reduced the hours she was working in financial services to give herself time to teach young children again. This was important progress.

Two weeks before the start of the retreat her mother died suddenly.  Viktoria chose to join us anyway, using this time to be with herself without having to be overly concerned about her family.  The weight of loss rested heavily on her and, at the same time, brought into sharp focus the things in life that were most important to her. 

Cooking, healthy food, love of nature and art where the themes that consistently emerged, no longer to be side-lined, yet Viktoria was left wondering how she might combine all three.

A few weeks after she returned home, however, her grandmother passed away too.  
 


I kept in touch with Viktoria during her time of grieving and a year later received a wonderful surprise.  The financial services job had gone for good.  Still teaching one day a week, she had taken a part-time job as a commercial cook - for the first time ever.  The hours were long but she wisely regarded them as the training ground to prepare her for a more corporate setting. That was her vision.

 

A year later I heard from Viktoria again.  It's so interesting to see how her story is evolving and to appreciate how organic transitions are.  When we stop trying to engineer everything, the right time and the best way forward presents itself, in ways we could never have dreamed of.  In her words:

 

“I´m so happy with my new job!  I´m now working at a treatment centre for people with drug and alcoholic problems. I´m employed in the kitchen where we also take care of the various trades people who support the centre. It is a good mixture of working with food and working with people, combining my passion for both.”

 

“The centre is situated on an island which you can only reach by boat. I work one week on, staying over, and then I have one week off. It's been a smooth start and this is my first whole week away from home - then I’m free entirely for a whole week.  Time flies by and I’m having a great time in a wonderful environment.”  

“I think this job will give me a lot more opportunity to do the other things with my life that I love when I’m not working - including art. The nature out here is fantastic.  I work in full view of the sea and also enjoy this view from my bedroom – you know how much I love the sea!”

I wish you a quiet moment now to reflect on what this story might mean for you.


I wish you a quiet moment now to reflect on what this story might mean for you.  

#retreat #somatic #imagination #sensoryplay#presence #embodiment #phenomenology #kinaesthetic #engagement #relationship #responsive #sensuous #standyourground #gettingcreative #confidence #connection #beherenow


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Moving with Mindfulness in the Landscape

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I walk along a near-empty beach and find my way to a black rock revealed by the receding tide.  Tenderly I lie down on my side and edge backwards so that the length of my spine rests against its face.

My body is laid on damp sand, my knees curled up in front of me and my head resting on my hands.  I drift into sleep under the watchful eye of Golden Cap, the highest point on this coastal section of Jurassic Dorset.

 

The density and stillness of the rock engenders a corresponding stillness in me so that when I awaken I am alert yet my mind is empty.  No instructions were given; the wisdom of my kinaesthetic body led me to this and it is nourishing to both my body and soul.

The harsh gaunt cliffs are like sentinels behind me, slumping their mass of black clay into the sea while fossil hunters risk their lives at the foot of them.

Rivulets of clay emerge from the base of the cliffs like molten lava coursing across the sand towards the sea. Shards of sunlight pierce the clouds and spotlight my dance across this rocky tide line.  I feel at home here.

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This is what Moving in the Landscape means for me.  A time when I experience myself most physically alive.  A time when I give my body permission to move in response to the immediate natural environment, in this instance the beach.  I have three glorious days of this ahead of me, the mornings spent in the studio in preparation for the afternoons when I am moving outdoors.

As my body finds ways to move naturally and organically in this unfamiliar terrain, I discover ways of moving I'm not accustomed to.  It’s a terrific workout for my whole body while my mind takes a break from an overloaded routine.

As my rib case expands my breathing deepens and this has a calming effect on my nervous system. My headache has cleared and my movements are no longer dictated by thoughts running through my head. I move with a new-found freedom and vitality.  I am present, centred in the very ground of my being and at one with nature.

 

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Moving with Mindfulness close up

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Have you heard the line from James Joyce's 'The Dubliners'?  "Mr Duffy lived a short distance from his body."  It sums up this state of affairs perfectly and I chuckle every time I read it.

There isn't anywhere we can go without our body goes too.  It is an essential part of our humanity yet so many of us can forget this as we trundle along with a disembodied head perched on a stick (our spine) which bears no relation to the rest of our anatomy.

I run movement workshops to rectify this.  I am on a mission to create more awareness of the kinaesthetic body because when we become dissociated from our it, we are weakened physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. 

 

 

My meditative movement practice is called Moving with Mindfulness.  I draw on natural movement, which everyone is capable of to encourage our bodily experience of relationship and connection to ourselves, each other and the environment, which is all most empowering.

It's only when we inhabit our body to the same degree we can occupy our minds that we can appreciate what wholeness means.  

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We spend the morning widening our movement vocabulary and exploring beyond our habitual patterns of motion. We gain confidence in extending our boundaries to occupy the whole studio space and avoid becoming glued to the spot as you do when dancing in a club. This brings a sense of freedom and possibility as we claim new ground for ourselves.
 
“I enjoyed connecting with the group and a chance to explore my feelings and myself physically.  I love Mary’s movement courses and I feel alive and enriched by the experience I have.  It fills a need in me to move creatively and with meaning.  I leave feeling both grounded and uplifted which is quite an achievement.”   Debbie, Adult Dyslexia Specialist.
 
With our bodies enlivened and attentive through the movement preparation, we take to lying on the floor.  In turn and with care, we outline a full-size body print for each other.  While inhabiting these body-scapes, Doreen Gowing, Hypnotherapist, leads a guided visualisation to help us let go and drop deeper into our bodies.
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We allow plenty of time to colour in our body prints in whichever way we feel fit, intuitively not logically because there is no right or wrong way to do this.  The room quickly fills with body portraits and after lunch we tour the gallery together. 

In pairs, we take turns to dance for our partner the energy of the body portrait we have created. 

“How do I do this?” the head protests while the body knows exactly what dance is needed and how to do it with our partner as our witness.   

"The Body Portrait process is unique for gently revealing and reminding me of my inner self.  Working with a partner magnified what I knew already as well as throw a light on parts I had forgotten or hidden.”  Doreen, Hypnotherapist

Then it is our partner's turn to give their movement response to what they had seen so that when the dance baton was returned to the original dancer, they were inspired to continue moving with it further.  What had been resting just below the surface immediately became visible, both in the body portrait and the dance that accompanied it.  It was a joy to see and a wonder to be shared and celebrated.

Please check my Events page for the next public Moving with Mindfulness workshop.  I'm also available to facilitate this process to any private peer groups.  Or if you’d like to explore Moving with Mindfulness with me one-to-one, you can always join me in the studio.

“It was a beautiful and powerful process.  Moving together with a partner and having my movement reflected back then interpreting the movement and the body drawing I’d created was very valuable.”  C. Barnes, Business Consultant.
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Floating around in Cork - a premonition on my Intuitive Vision Board

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I have a £800 Nikon strung over my shoulder and a JVC camcorder around my neck and I’m prayin’ to Mary that I don’t slip on the cobbled stones of Penrose Quay into the Atlantic waters while I'm here to make a video.

 Those colourful boats on my Intuitive Vision Board (top left) have been working their Irish magic again.  Only a few months ago they took me on an all-expenses paid trip to a rural suburb of Dublin as a visiting “tour guide”. This time they've led me to Cork for a week.

I’m working on a building site in a cleverly reclaimed wharf, accompanied by two engineers.  It was never supposed to be a building site but work is so far behind schedule that I’m surrounded by men of all trades doing their thing.  It’s dirty, noisy and fascinating.
 
I've never worked alongside men who use their bodies and hands each day. I'll be honest and say I held a prejudice there would be a lot of testosterone flying around and vying for position in the hierarchy.  What struck me more was the courtesy and respect shown by the men towards each other. 

The only firework moment was when a man pasting vinyl didn’t realise the touch-activated shower on the wall behind it was switched on - and it drenched him.  His swearing in a Cork accent, incomprehensible at the best of times, was really more entertaining than scarey.

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I was on my feet for 8-9 hour days filming.  So were the engineers I was accompanying to install the two float rooms.

 It went through my mind how satisfying it must be to make something and see it materialise before your very eyes, channelling all that masculine energy into it rather than just being sat behind a desk every day.  

Meanwhile I was very grateful to be able to retire to a comfortable, elegant spa hotel and peel off my dusty clothes to relax and freshen up.

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This is a float room (right) by the way.  It's a private, ambient bath tub where you lay on your back in silence, darkness too if you prefer, suspended on a dense Epsom Salt solution - a bit like floating in the Dead Sea. 

For the past three years I’ve worked part-time for the market leader selling their float rooms around the world. The UK, Holland, Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia are the biggest markets.  I even attended a Float Conference in Oregon last year; it's a growing industry.

The people who gravitate to this business are inclined to be spiritual by nature and have a desire to foster that in others.  I enjoy encouraging them to establish their havens of floating tranquility where they can let go of all the stresses, tensions and worries of life for an hour at least. For those of you who've worked with me will know how well this sits alongside my own modus operandi.
 
How did my floating life transpire?   Just over three years ago my practice was fledgling while I was slowly emerging from the roughest, toughest period in Mary Nondé recorded history.  At that time I attended a Tango dance lesson and found myself paired with an Aussie.  When I heard he was a business owner, I asked whether he knew of anyone who could offer me part-time work.  He wasn’t looking but he liked the sound of what I could do.  No CV, no interview.  Just a month’s trial - and I've been working for them ever since. 
 
Yes, there's a woman floating on my Intuitive Vision Board below!    I made this board before the floatation company came on my scene six months later.  Up until then I'd only floated once at a Spa.  She was a premonition for sure,  alongside the three photos of the ocean and including the bed-on-the-rocks beside the sea (to dream for), and Daniel Craig walking towards me.   

So here's the craic. The floatation company I've been working for is called Ocean Float Rooms.  It's like having a bed by the sea.
And the owner has the body and stature of Daniel Craig, as far as I can tell.
 
Warm and ambient wishes, Mary

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Sunflowers, bullfrogs and no Costa   

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I never grow tired of flying into the beautiful city of Toulouse.   It's aptly known as La Ville Rose because of the pink terracotta bricks used in many of its buildings.  It's a wonderful place to explore on foot - for a romantic weekend perhaps - with the majestic river Garonne coursing through it.  The boutiques, restaurants and cafés are decidedly chic and it's very easy to part with your euros.
 
Toulouse is also the landing spot for my Soul Alive Retreat.  There are flights here from all over the UK but I favour British Airways from Heathrow Terminal 5; it's easy and accessible.  Then it's only a 45-minute drive to the villa in this lesser known department of SW France where you can quickly feel as if you're stepping back in time.

I host two Retreats a year - in the late Spring and early fall.  In June, everything is bursting forth with new life.  In September the weather is still glorious and the grapes just harvested to make the delicious Gaillac wines for which this region is famous.  

The Retreats take place in the tiny village of Vieux, which means 'old' if your French is a bit rusty.  You won't hear a plane passing overhead but you may hear a tractor passing through or a busy bullfrog if it's the mating season.

Our home from home for six days is the 14th century property called Le Presbytere and we have the exclusive use of it.  It sounds a bit 'churchy' doesn't it and that's because it was once the home of the village pastor who took in weary travellers on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail, which passes right outside the door.  

The solid wooden door of Le Presbytere stands opposite the old church built at the same time.  It's the perfect location for head-weary folk to take time-out from their uber-busy lifestyle to rest and regroup. We use the villa and its charming gardens in the mornings for creative contemplation using the somatic arts and mindfulness practice as starting points.

Not confined to the walls of villa, however, we venture forth to a different restaurant each day for lunch. The afternoons are spent exploring the Tarn Valley with its picturesque Bastide hill towns and countryside peppered with sunflowers and vines.  A suitable balm for the nervous system and the opportunity to stop ‘thinking’ and ‘doing’ and to absorb the riches that life offers so naturally and abundantly.

You won't find Costa on every corner here, not even in the city.  I take my hat off to the French for honouring their traditions and preserving their history so tastefully.

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With your own en-suite double room, this is a rare opportunity to take time-out to muse and to linger on whatever you fancy and to escape the need to be on call to anyone. 

I encourage people to switch off their mobiles and not access the internet for these 6 days for their own benefit  - but I don't forbid it!  Out of respect for others I ask that any connection with the outside world is made quietly and discreetly from your own room.

 

Maybe September suits you better the weather is still glorious and the grapes just harvested to make the delicious Gaillac wines for which this region is famous.  Just let me know.

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If you've hit a metaphorical brick wall or know someone who is rather jaded and in need of a break, this all-inclusive Soul Alive Retreat might fit the bill.

 We can always talk it through by phone on 0782 7017188.  

Or I'm happy to meet for a coffee if that's practical.

A toute a l'heure, Mary

 

One participant from Sweden recounts her experience:

"I enjoyed Mary's week-long retreat very much.  A beautiful place to stay and beautiful places to visit.  I particularly liked the combination of inner work in the morning and exploring the surroundings in the afternoon.  The silence before breakfast worked well for me and the writing, drawing, and sharing activities gave me a lot of useful insight and inspiration." 

"I've continued writing and drawing since arriving back home.  I've also been out into the woods gathering mushrooms and into the garden to pick apples for baking and juicing.  A lot of creativity was aroused in me during the week and this has helped me find my way through a career change soon after my return".  

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