Archive for the First I Dreamt the Journey Category

First I Dreamt The Journey – Part 19 – Change

Posted in First I Dreamt the Journey with tags , , on August 28, 2011 by belfastdavid

I am grateful too for the discovery that change is the only constant.

We are human. We are not comfortable with change; yet to go forward we must embrace it.

We can spend days or months or years in cul-de-sacs off the road – cul-de-sacs which offer the illusion of safety and of security and of sanity. But they are just that – illusions. If we are not careful we will spend more and more time bolstering up that illusion. We shore it up with possessions, either in material or human form. We demand pieces of paper to prove our ability. We demonstrate our worthiness by creating a surface which is beautiful and attractive.

We become taken over by patching and fixing and working harder and harder to paper over the cracks – to maintain the illusion. And the faster and harder we work at that, the less time we have to spend on the work that is really required; the less opportunity we give ourselves to step back, to reflect, to look at the bigger picture.

Yet true beauty exists only within the soul. It is available to be seen through the eyes. Far too often nowadays all I see behind eyes is a shallow pool.

The embracing of change begins with willingness. Willingness will open the door to change and will continue to keep that door open. When I first became aware that I needed to change I seemed stuck by a lack of knowledge of how to do that.
So I changed what I could. I started to wear a watch; I had not worn one for years. When I had a bath I sat at the other end from I was used to. I changed the order when I got washed in the morning, brushing my teeth last instead of first. Actually getting washed every morning was also a change. I changed my hair style – out went the sideboards, the length at the back and the quiff; in came a short back and sides and a parting. Small changes perhaps,  Yet every day when I look in the mirror I am reminded that I was willing to change.

To this day I seek to prove to myself that I am willing to change. Although my living space is small, on a regular basis I will change around the position of the furniture, change the pictures and their placement on the wall.
It is a way of ensuring I do not get stuck in my comfort zone, that I do not become a prisoner of my own habits.

Once again my model is the sea. Given that I have the safe foundation of the stepping stones, I want to live my life, as does the sea, in a state of constant flux.

Consider a large house standing on a hill atop the cliff. A top-floor room looks out over the cliffs, over the sea and over the moorland. There is a wind  – 

The wind is howling past my window,
it whistles as it passes through the trees,
it whips their branches to a frenzy,
picks up dead leaves and puts them far away,

insinuates itself in little gaps and crannies;
what’s not securely held gets worried loose,
picked up, moved on, distributed to elsewhere.
The landscape’s changed from what it was before.

The wind dies down and everything is still.

Why is it I am watching through the glass?
The world’s not real when seen through one of those.
Get out, stand willingly in way of storms
and feel the wind as it blows through and past me.

Dead leaves are only clutter in my soul,
what’s loose is best detached and blown away
to leave me cleansed and give me room to grow.
The landscape’s changed from what it was before.

The wind dies down and everything is still.


First I Dreamt The Journey – Part 18 – More On The Now

Posted in First I Dreamt the Journey on August 14, 2011 by belfastdavid

Often I sit on the shore, stare out across the sea to the horizon in the distance, and allow myself to go into that space which is the now.

There are it seems to me to be parallels. At the horizon the sky and sea seem to merge and it is impossible to define the exact point of their meeting. If I move towards the horizon it will move away – it is not possible ever to arrive at the point where they merge.

Just so within my-self; the past flows in, the future out and sometimes it is impossible to find the moment when they merge. Yet if I am there, in the now, I have created a gap almost as if I am sitting by the sea in that space between sea and sky.

If I practise, if I nurture my ability to do that, the broader I can make that gap. The more I will have room to breathe and truly live in the space between past and future.

From that space I am capable of mature reflection.

I can be grateful for the simple fact that I am alive, that no longer do I go to bed wishing not to wake up in the morning.

I can be grateful for the fact that I can choose my mood, for when my mood is right I can achieve anything I decide, yet when my mood is wrong I am a pain in my own backside.

I can be grateful that I am aware that at points in time things happen which appear to have no connection, but which clearly do.

I can become aware that, in this life, there are any number of things which happen that are beyond my control. I may rail against them and fight to prevent them happening, but I can only do the best I can do and when the outcome is not what I would want I must learn to express my anger and frustration in such a way that it does not add to the distress.

Many tablets have I written to this end. Some written on stone which can then be consigned to the sea, the movement of the water will erase them. Some written on paper which can then be consigned to the fire, letting my anger and frustration be carried away in the smoke from the flames. Some which can be shared with the beautiful fairy or with my friends, thus allowing the power of the anger to be dissipated or to be used in a constructive direction.

I am grateful that I have discovered the ability to do that.

First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 17 -That Space

Posted in First I Dreamt the Journey with tags , , on June 12, 2011 by belfastdavid

Little by little, as practice made me more accustomed to visiting the cave, to finding the stepping stones and to conversing with the beautiful fairy, I became more able to find, and to operate out of, a particular space.

A space where I am just in the moment, a space where time stands still, a space where the past and the future have vanished and there is only the now. A space where I am in touch with the core of my being, where I respond without troubling my conscious mind. A space where I have complete trust that whatever I say or do is okay.

When I am operating out of that space the voices of my inner critics are silent because they do not exist in that space. There is no concept of success or failure there because whatever is in the now is whatever is and therefore cannot be right or wrong.

In particular the voice which would have me not try is silent. That voice would persuade me not to try for fear that I would fail or be rejected. The logic of that voice is impeccable yet flawed. It is not failure I am afraid of; rather it is success.

I have failed many times before and therefore it is not to be feared. However success will often result in a step into the unknown which is, in itself, frightening. Success too raises expectation levels – I have succeeded once, I can succeed again.

These doubting voices do not exist in the now. But I must be wary of their desire to re-visit those occasions when I have been there and cast their critical eye over them. They seek to delude and undermine. They use phrases like “not perfect” and “could have done better” which I do well not to listen to. The reality is that, if I have operated out of the now, I will have performed to the best of my ability at that point in time and I must learn to trust that is so.

Oh, I can study and I can learn and I can fine-tune. And, for sure, the more I learn about the core of who is me the more likely it is that coming from the now will result in behaviour in line with who I am.

We must study, in particular, how we can reach that space. We will have been there many times. Sometimes we will have arrived there without appearing to try and only realise we have been there after we have come back. Sometimes we will have got there apparently by accident, catching ourselves by surprise.

We must be prepared to reflect on these occasions, to teach ourselves how we can do that. The effort will be worthwhile because operating out of that space will always leave us feeling at peace with ourselves.

Audio version at

First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 16 – Kitchen Table

Posted in First I Dreamt the Journey with tags , , on June 5, 2011 by belfastdavid

I must give the time and energy to the innermost circle. Its position, at the centre of the rings, demands that.

I must take the time to get to know me, to understand me, to nurture and look after me and to take the risk of loving me.

That process has revealed that within the innermost circle reside large numbers of disparate parts of me. At times these parts can appear to be in conflict. For example, my desire to help others and my need to look after myself can often find themselves at variance.

I am prepared to accept as a premise that each of these parts has my best interests at heart, even though at times it may appear that they are out to destroy me.

There are other hypotheses, but I am adopting this one because, over time, it has proven the most useful.

What has become clear is that it is lack of communication between parts which leads to confusion, bewilderment and uncertainty. And one part operating on its own, convinced it is right, and refusing to listen to input from other parts will inevitably cause disaster.

I must open up lines of communication.

Parts which are running rampant must be assured that I do appreciate they have good intentions, but I must ask them to take the time to consider other options, other information, to be prepared to consider the fuller picture. I must reassure parts which feel neglected, undervalued, under appreciated that I do heed their words, that I do consider their opinion important and that I am willing to listen to them.

I must invite all parts into the kitchen where there is a range glowing warmly on one side of the room, where there is a bottomless teapot on its top, where there is the smell of freshly baking bread and where there is a large, solid wooden table, seemingly marked by generations of use, in the centre of the room.

I must invite them all to sit round the table, to partake in bread and tea and conversation.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gradually, as the warmth and camaraderie of the kitchen table works its magic we begin to find a harmony and discuss an interdependent, mutually satisfactory wholeness. Gradually there emerges openness, trust and honesty. Each part is encouraged to discuss its intentions, its reasons, its approach and by co-operating we create unity.

The strength of one part becomes available for use by others. Parts with enormous energy, drive, enthusiasm and determination, when persuaded to use those attributes for the benefit of us all, become useful members of the community. The more gentle, reflective parts, when confident they will be listened to, provide a balance, a solace, a comfort and a direction.

And, as long as the kitchen remains an attractive place, other parts, of whose existence I was unaware, will emerge, blinking in the light. Sometimes we have to work quite hard to merge them with the whole, but we must do that because their contribution will be valuable.

I must work to maintain the atmosphere, the ambience of the kitchen. If the fire in the range does not get stoked, if the bread does not get baked, if the butter does not get churned it will become a cold and uninviting place.

I must do the work because it is only in the environs of the kitchen and around its table that the sense of wholeness, of completeness and of unity can be maintained.



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First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 15 – Inner Circles

Posted in First I Dreamt the Journey with tags , on May 25, 2011 by belfastdavid

Considering the construction of different relationships with time caused me to reflect on the use of time, the use of energy. Was I using time or was I desecrating it? Was my energy, a limited supply, being used constructively or was I wasting it?

Discussing this with the beautiful fairy she picked up a hard stone from the floor of the cave, walked to a blank wall, and scratched a series of concentric rings on the wall – a small one at the centre and circles of increasing size around it.

Pointing to the innermost circle she said “That represents you, the core of you, the essence of you, the you that you really are. The next innermost circle represents the people, the places, the activities that are most important to you, the next innermost circle represents the next level of importance right out to beyond the final circle where reside the the people, places and things which are present in this world but which are of no relevance to you. People, places, and activities may well move from one circle to the next as changes occur in your life and it is likely that the more inner the circle the more static it is liable to be. Nonetheless they are all subject to change.”

Then, before I could ask a question, she vanished. She is prone to do that. I have come to realise, that when she does that, she has given me all the information I need. Working out how to use it is down to me.

Studying the circles and gradually mapping my life against the circles – slotting people, places, and activities into what appeared to be appropriate circles – it soon became apparent that although the circles are present in all our caves, the content of the circles is unique to each and every one of us. It was not possible for me to use some one else’s map and apply it to my circles.

Considering placement in the circles, the answer to my original question about use of time and energy began to emerge – they should be directed towards the innermost circles because those were the most important areas of my life.

And this realisation, itself, lent import to placement. I became very aware of the impact of movement between circles, of my previous tendency to permit admission to an inner circle of people who had by no means earned the right to be there. I became aware also of my tendency to dissipate time in outer circles because the people or activities there provided what seemed like an entertaining diversion.

The circles are carved indelibly on the wall of the cave – the beautiful fairy made sure of that. The content of the individual circles is down to me and is subject to change. I must make certain to re-visit from time to time and to make adjustments as necessary.

Before inviting any one or any activity into an inner circle, and be sure they only arrive there by invitation, I must be sure that they merit the invite. And should time and behaviour prove them not worthy of that place then I must be prepared to move them out again.

Only by making these adjustments can I make good use of time and energy.

 Audio Version at

First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 14 – Solitude

Posted in First I Dreamt the Journey with tags , , , on May 18, 2011 by belfastdavid

Amidst this ebb and flow I became aware that there were of periods of solitude, either forced or sought deliberately. Aware that periods of solitude were the result of choices I had made, decisions I had taken along the way.

It was necessary for me to make a different relationship with solitude. Previously solitude had been experienced as darkness; as aloneness. It is certainly a place where familiar shapes dissolve.

By accepting this I can make different use of solitude. I can decide whether it is to be a lonely place or a place alone, a place of sloth or of creation, a place of deep regret or of reflection.

In reconstructing my interaction with solitude I became aware also that I was making a different relationship with time. Previously solitude had appeared to stretch before me like an eternity. This did not have to be the case.

I can snatch five minutes of solitude in the midst of a busy day and use it to reflect and renew, thus emerging restored as if after a period of long, deep sleep.

I can slow down or speed up time such that long periods of solitude become productive, constructive and appear to have flashed by, often catching me by surprise in the process.

It is easy to choose periods of solitude and to use them in this fashion. Yet when solitude appears enforced we lose sight of that perspective. We can stand in a crowd and feel totally alone or we can suddenly find ourselves on our own when we did not expect it. Solitude in those circumstances can appear black, can appear frightening.

And yet if we are capable of manufacturing changed relationships with solitude and with time when we choose solitude then we have proven we have the ability to do that. We must choose to use that ability.

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First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 13 – Ebb and Flow

Posted in First I Dreamt the Journey with tags , on May 10, 2011 by belfastdavid

Reflecting on these and other battles it has become clear to me that there is a rise and fall, an ebb and flow in all things.

Nature itself in its seasons has a pattern of renewal, blossoming, maturing and death followed by renewal again.

So it is too in my own life, although not necessarily in tune with nature’s seasons. I have periods when energy levels are high, when ideas burst forth, periods when plans come into fruition, periods when maturation allows things to settle into my subconscious and become part of who I am, and periods, fallow periods, when energy levels are low and I need to allow myself to recuperate.

I must accept these fluctuations, go with them, understand that they are natural patterns and not fight against them.

Highs and lows are part of these patterns, and I must learn that this is so – not get so carried away on the high that I fly too close to the sun, or sink so deep into the low that it becomes a bottomless pit.

Sometimes it can feel like a roller coaster, and I suppose in a way it is; but knowing that I am on a roller coaster allows me to enjoy the ride even if, some times, I must hold on very tightly.

I do well to study natural patterns and to learn. If I watch a child grow I will notice periods of rapid growth followed by consolidation periods, followed again by rapid growth. A child too, learning to walk, will in the early stages when it wants to get somewhere quickly, drop to its hands and knees and crawl. Yet it will persist in learning to walk, knowing intuitively that is the better option in the long term.

All growth, all learning follows these patterns – we make rapid progress then seem to plateau and we can become discouraged. Yet if we continue to work we will be laying the foundations under the plateau that allow the next period of growth.

My most immediate teacher of natural patterns is the sea. I have places I can go, either physically or in my head, which allow me to watch the pattern of the tides and to learn their significance.

The tide comes in,
the sea roars and boils,
crashes in great waves on the strand,
beats itself against the sea wall,
throws great clouds of spray skywards,
demonstrates its enormous power,
its incredible energy.

Then it goes out,
everything is still,
the tide driven back from the shore,
distant ripples at the sea’s edge,
the energy seeming all spent,
the power – not gone, just rebuilding,
restoring, re-energizing.



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