The Spirited Weekend – Bringing it all together

September 16, 2012

The details of the weekends work follow, but first my preamble.

Bringing the day together? Through my work as a scientifically trained therapist and in my exploration as an inspired (or in-spirited) human being, I have met many medical research scientists, PhD Doctorates mostly. Three of whom spring to mind all of whom achieved great medical success in their early lives, became successful business people and then grew further. They explored the boundaries of the human spirit.

When we discussed this we all seemed to agree that the difficulties many people found in maturing, and I don’t mean age related progression, was that they had not been given the grounded way to explore whatever it was that their spirit, soul or the simple mysteries of the universe and the planet, where and meant for them. Very often, their attempts to get that need met led to addictions; drugs, alcohol, excitement and risky behaviours. That rarely left them feeling satisfied and led to a good few of them sitting in my cognitive therapy room, head in hands, dispirited.

As my understanding as healer, psychologist and coach has grown, it has become apparent to me all of us are unique (duh – I know, but truly getting that means being willing to drop pre-conceptions, approach ideas and interpret them in more simple ways). Therefore I found new old ways of working with my clients, from their perspective with their growth in mind. Things that seemed not to make sense, suddenly did when they “did” it! Interestingly one of my research scientist colleagues commented “I have spent most of my career selling drugs and dismissing the placebo effect. And now I work with it!”

Another described how had moved from a similar place, through cognitive processing to the place of teaching mindfulness, that place of greater awareness, and I agree. Sometimes though, we think of mindfulness just as Zen like meditation. That is not so. We can be mindful in many ways; on our own in nature, around a fire with friends, on a walk and in the hot bath (with candles and scents of course!) We often miss and dismiss simple pleasures that feed us as being wacky! Those positive ways of just being one are perfect for bringing just clarity when you need it.

So fire, walk, nature rest & quest and a good hot bath are all brought together in a respectful, honourable approach to the old ways, but with the simple recognition that we are the new people. That is the calling of my work; honour the Sacred and bring it today simply together.

It’s a joy to be working with Sheelagh on and over:

The Spirited Weekend
In this unique weekend the spirits of our land – Earth, Air, Fire and Water are brought together to enable you to find your own true vision and carry it forward into your life. You will spend time alone in contemplation of the sovereignty and guardianship of the land( and yourself)f, which links you with this place –our planet Earth; you will open up your heart and find your deepest desire and take that to the ceremony of the Firewalk to be energised;  after completing your personal Vision Quest you will enter the healing of the Sweat Lodge to consolidate your vision then take it with you out into life – to live your vision – to remain at one with spirit in all its beauty.

Your progress begins on Saturday morning in group and personal preparation for your overnight quest, we’ll then attentively clear sacred space, build the entry gate and prepare the fires for walking and vigil. At 18:30 we gather to light the Firewalk fire with ceremony and prayers. During the workshop your energies link with that of the fire whilst you connect with your heart and your authentic dream. Then carry your dream in your heart to the Fire and dare to walk your dream in to reality.  

Celebrate and then move to the  Vigil Fire where you’ll continue to integrate your dream into your body and heart and you may chose to go and sit alone in quest. In the early morning we gather again at the vigil fire and then move into the Sweat Lodge to cleanse body and spirit ready to move out into the world and make your vision happen.

This is a weaving of ancient ceremonies into a powerful intention: As soon as you decide to participate the magic will begin to enter into your life. Welcome to the beginning of something wonderful in your life.

This weekend is given by 2 of the Clophill Centre’s shamanic practitioners: Sheelagh Keddie and Keith Abrahams.

Sheelagh weaves together ceremony and the art of spiritual fire walking. She studies with the Twin Flames Foundation, with Sundoor and most of all through listening to the Celtic spirits of this land.

Keith has a gentle humour, aimed at keeping ‘the ways’ simple in everyday living. He is learning to serve the tea as a Rainbow Warrior through a variety of colourful teachers, like Simon Buxton, Leo Rutherford and Caitlin Matthews.

The place
The land of the Clophill Centre brings its own special energies to deepen and authenticate our experiences during this weekend as we work in and around its trees, wildlife and the resonance of sacred space.

Booking details
Your place is reserved upon payment of a non-returnable deposit of £40. This can be made payable to Richard Diss at

The price of £80 covers the whole weekend. Bring food to share.
Start time 11am on Saturday morning
Close around 9pm on Sunday evening

If you have any questions please feel free to contact:
Keith on (07834655171)
Sheelagh on or
Richard at the Clophill Centre.


Which is best; Being Kind or Being Clever? – McDonaldisation and Cattle Prods

September 4, 2012

Which is best; Being Kind or Being Clever? – McDonaldisation and Cattle Prods.

Which is best; Being Kind or Being Clever? – McDonaldisation and Cattle Prods

September 4, 2012

Buzzing customer service and spiritual reverie……

I read of a young man whose Grandmother was ill in hospital. She wanted a special kind of soup (“Chicken Soup for the Soul follows!), since she found the hospital food inedible. The shop that made the soup she wanted did not make it over the weekend, but the young man spoke to the owner, who not only made a special batch, but also sent a box of specially made biscuits for the hospital staff.

No expectation of ‘payment in kind’ or ‘fair profit’, the store owner simply did what happens many millions of times a day (significantly UN and under reported, in my view), she expressed a human emotion when one heart reaches out to others. As she went about her daily business, the touched young man posted news of her kindness on to social media. Result? The shop received 50,000 ‘Like’ hits. No begging emails or prompts from that gal!

The social media gurus would have you focusing on the power of the technology. I ask you to look at the power of the act.

When the customer service operator says “Can I help you with anything else today?” or “Have a nice day.” We can’t be sure that is coming from a sense of kindness and helpfulness or because the technology is ‘listening in’ or the caller will be invited to rate the call (note to self why do I spend my time answering their controlling marketing research stuff?)

What is the power of that act? It feels like and I can imagine the day when the technology will act as a ‘cattle prod’, when the operator fails to use the right word, tonality, inflexion or pause, the great ‘eye that is listening’ can prod the contestant, I mean operator, with a ‘nudge’. They will call it coaching of course. Just maybe we will all sit in the restaurants and push buttons to prod our waiters to serve faster and with more panache.

But we as consumers will never know if the emotion is real are we being lied to? We will complain about the lack of congruence which “did not push my buttons”. The service staff will be under stress, having no room for their own heart to heart emotions and will just go home complaining about how “their buttons have been pushed”. I am sure there are psychological studies that demonstrate that living with a sense of such incongruence and tight management (which my clients complain of) results in some kind of long term illness; mind, body and/or soul.

But the prodding power will gloat cleverly, point to the numbers and say “look the facts speak for themselves, bigger, faster, cheaper and more measurable!” If I have understood the scientific world properly, we will soon have feeling, sentient reflective robots to replace the mechanical humans we are training up, coaching through and making efficient. Perhaps the robots will also be trained to enjoy those wonderful, spiritual times of reverie I often call “Wow moments!” If the eye will aye them, of course.

Founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos, writes of the time where as a young boy he used the power of his calculating and economic mind to point out to his chain smoking grandmother how much her smoking cost and how many years he had knocked off of her life. Grandma burst into tears, uncontrollably and Granddad had to pull over the car they were travelling in to speak to the young Bozo (sic).

“Jeff” said the old man gently “One day you will understand that it is harder to be kind than clever”.