Alan Heeks

Even the old are prejudiced about ageing!

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Nov 202020

Alan with a group at Hazel Hill Wood

How to grow through the fear and bias

Most of us have prejudices, and most of us have them around old age, whatever age we are!  It’s been shocking for me, as an expert on creative ageing, to admit this is true of me.

I realise that one simplistic way that I categorize people I meet is ‘old’ or ‘regular’.  ‘Old’ people have white hair and wrinkles, they move slowly and not in straight lines. You have to slow down and concentrate to communicate with them.  This summer, as I approached seventy, I still felt depressed at the prospect, despite working hard at being positive.  I’ve realised that the heart of my depression is joining a category about which I still have prejudice: old people.

At least I can see the opportunity here, to find ways to unpack my hangups and clear them will help my own ageing process, and hopefully others.  This is part of a wider change in our outlook on life, which is vital as we get older: choosing our own beliefs and values, and not being manipulated and prejudiced by the media.

Claiming your freedom

Recently I spoke to a friend who turned seventy some months ago, and asked her how she felt.  “It’s liberating”, she said. “No one has expectations of me, I’m free to be myself”. For those of you reading this who are somewhere North of fifty, the gift I want to offer you is this: you’re free, but you have to claim your freedom.

Claiming your freedom means noticing where your attitude to yourself, and your approach to life, are being limited by negative beliefs that you still carry about ‘being old’.  It’s high time you lightened up, and shed your excess baggage!

Groups can help this process.  I don’t mean a bunch of people in a pub, or probably not.  Gatherings like men’s or women’s groups, or creative ageing workshops, have helped me to feel that I’m accepted and appreciated as I am.  Groups can support us in feeling that the beliefs we’re choosing are sane and healthy, even if they differ from society’s norms.

As I write this, it’s a month since my seventieth birthday: so far, my seventies feel a bit of a laugh.  I do have a sense of freedom and lightness, as if it doesn’t quite matter who I am anymore. Or as if I’ve slipped through a hole in the fabric of space-time, and I can choose who I am, all over again.

The process I’ve described above, of dropping prejudices and choosing positive beliefs, has worked for me, and I hope it helps you.  You’ll find it explored more fully in Chapter X of my new book: the chapter is called Change the Story!

Alan’s new book is Not Fade Away: Staying Happy when you’re over 64.  For more details click here.

Enjoying your elderhood

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Nov 202020

We commonly think of tribes as led by one chief, but often the elders as a group had a powerful role. It was their role to guide the tribe in a crisis, to dream dreams, uphold values, and mentor the young. Clearly we live in a different kind of society to this, but the role of the elders is something we can learn from and update.

I’ve concluded that each of us has to figure out our own form of elderhood, and what being an elder means for us. This is different from the traditions of initiating adolescents into adulthood, where they are typically trained in their duties, roles and values. Initiation into elderhood is a more organic, gradual, self-guided process. You may learn from other elders as role models, they may give support, but the vision comes from you, and any guiding spirits or divinity you work with. Here are some of the best ways to explore what elderhood means for you, and to move into it.

  • Alone and in nature.
  • Sharing your exploration with other elders, in a regular group or one-off events.
  • Using dreams, meditation and other practices which help you open to the spiritual and the unconscious aspect of yourself.

When does elderhood begin, and finish? Everyone’s journey is unique. The age 50 is often a turning point. However, I’ve seen people with the wisdom of elderhood in their late 20s, and others in their 70s who’ve not yet reached it. I believe that elderhood is a stage we find for ourselves, hopefully in our 50s or 60s, and this stage of elderhood lasts until we die. There are others who see elderhood as followed by seniority, a stage of passing out of life and into death and whatever lies beyond.

To help your exploration, here are some brief pointers to aspects of elderhood.

  • Simple presence: If you’re at ease with yourself, calm amid setbacks, focussed on the positive, your presence alone will be a teaching and a role model for those around you, of all ages.
  • Embodying and upholding values: This is a major role of tribal elders, and much needed in our society. This means living the principles you believe in, such as honesty, integrity, forgiveness, and speaking out for these values when you see them ignored.
  • Elders as a group: In these later years, the balance between individual and collective life swings more towards the group: this means shared wisdom, mutual support, and perhaps shared action too.
  • Friendship: Slowing down should be a goal and a benefit of elderhood. This creates time for you to be a friend: to other elders, to your children and grandchildren, and wherever it’s needed. Sharing your love, your wisdom, your values with others through friendship is part of your legacy.
  • Giving back, serving the greater good: a classic elders role.
  • Facing ageing and death: I was closest to my father, and learned most from him, in his last years and his death: I know many others who have found the same. If you can find happiness even in your decline, and face death positively, you create a blessing for yourself and younger generations.
  • Surrendering to the unconscious: If you have stayed aware, you probably feel by now that the complexity inside and around you is so huge that you can’t think your way to understanding. Surrendering to the unconscious is not giving up, it’s opening to receive the wisdom within us and around us, which can’t all be channelled through the rational mind.
  • Opening to the beyond: the years of elderhood are a chance to open to the world of spirit, to whatever lies beyond death. This is a fitting part of our later life, and probably serves the tribe as well.

There are so many pressures pulling people and governments around the world, towards the immediate, visible problems, which are often social and economic. Raising attention, speaking out, walking the talk, calling for action, on the huge but less immediate crises of environmental and human sustainability, is a role that the elders need to take up. The elders are a big voice, a power for change, and without us stepping in, we’re all on the road to chaos.

Creation Spirituality: what, why, how?

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Nov 202020

Align your own creative power within the divine

The essence of creation spirituality is this idea: that the creation of our world was not a one-off event billions of years ago: it is a process continuing in every moment, and each of us can contribute.  As Neil Douglas-Klotz puts it: our job description as humans is to figure out the unique role we can play in creation, here and now, and fulfil it.  

Implicit in this approach is the belief in a benign divinity (which could be called Sacred Unity, God, Allah, or many other names), who initiated the process of creation, who is still present in it, and who we can connect with to guide our own creative power.  

The term creation spirituality originates with an American teacher, Matthew Fox, in the 1960s: he uses the term to differentiate from redemption theology, which believes in original sin and sees this world as a vale of suffering which we have to escape from. The key ideas in creation spirituality can be found in Christian mystics and others from centuries ago.  Here are some examples:

I have often said that God is creating the entire universe in this present now.” (Meister Eckhart).

The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity.  This Word manifests itself in every creature.” (Hildegard of Bingen). 

I was a hidden treasure and wanted to be known.  Hence, I created the world so I would be known.” (Islamic Hadith). 

Stop acting so small.  You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”  (Rumi). 

Another teacher I admire whose work relates to creation spirituality is Thomas Berry.  In books like The Dream of the Earth he evokes Mother Earth as a wise, creative power, an expression of the divine, and highlights how our human dreams, myths and visions can help to recover a fruitful relationship with her. See more in my blog

ature's healing power

As you can see, an intrinsic part of this approach is seeing all of Nature as an ongoing process of divine creation, and humankind as part of Nature.  Fully experiencing the creative power, beauty and abundance of Nature is a great way to unlock these qualities in yourself.  

Two key Sufi beliefs are seeing divinity in all life, and regarding Nature as a mirror and teacher.  Sufi poets like Rumi, Hafiz and Shabistari offer wonderful doorways into creation spirituality.  So do wazifas, which are Arabic sound mantras.  The Sufi Book of Life by Neil Douglas-Klotz is a good way to explore and use them: several embody aspects of creativity.  You could also dive into the poems and songs of Christian mystics like Hildegard of Bingen.

If you want to explore creation spirituality further, my advice is to find ways to experience it, for example through song, poetry, devotional movement.  I have led various groups doing this, some

Hyper-scenic delights in the Massif Central

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Sep 222019

There’s a subtle buzz when a train sets off on what I’d call a hyper-scenic route. It may well be a mere two-coach diesel, from a mundane city like Leeds or Clermont-Ferrand. But some of the passengers are different. They’ve got cameras, journals, route maps. Some are outdoors types with hiking gear or touring bikes. They’re alert and they’re in the know: it’s a secret society of rail connoisseurs.

My favorite, archetypal hyper-scenic route for many years has been the Settle and Carlisle. I’ve done it so many times that it’s like hearing a favourite symphony: you know when a great bit is coming up, and it’s always wonderful. However, this blog is about two hyper-scenic routes in France which I’ve just travelled for the first time.

There’s a lot to like about French railways, plus a few things that are downright annoying. First off to like, there’s the fact that France is abundant in spectacular landscapes of many kinds. Second, the French with their taste for quirky innovation put railways through lots of them. And third, many of these lines are still running. I think helped by generous public subsidies, perhaps some French influence with the EU…

And French railways still have industrial sidings in use, with small privately-owned shunting engines, and intriguing obscure branch lines and spurs that curve off out of sight. One big downside of SNCF is their appalling online info and booking system, which always tries to force you onto TGV’s, and makes it hard to plan or book a trip on the side lines. I’ve booked my own rail trips to Marrakech and California, but for France I gave up and booked via a specialist agent: Ffestiniog Travel, who did a fine job.

It’s also sad that SNCF are hostile to steam. The Railway Touring Company, who run chartered steam trains all over the world, gave up on France many years ago. There are quite a few heritage steam lines in France, but many are just a couple of tank engines on a few miles of track. But they have a wonderful offer on some lines: check out Velorail.

It’s all about a viaduct

Why am I on this Friday tour of France by rail? To see the Garabit Viaduct. Even among railway cognoscenti, the Garabit is not widely known: I was chuffed to find that my steam travel pal Nick, who knows more about heritage railway carriages than I’d ever want to, had never heard of it. And those who’ve visited are an even more exclusive minority – because it’s really hard to do.

The Garabit is on an obscure line which wiggles down from Clermont-Ferrand, near the middle of France, to the Mediterranean coast at Béziers. There’s only one train each day each way! And I’d been warned that you don’t even see the viaduct when you go over on a train, because it’s dead straight. Ironically, one of the best views is from the rest area on the nearby A75 motorway, which crosses the better-known Millau viaduct some miles south of here. At least it works in reverse – you get a great view of the Millau viaduct from the train!

At first I thought, I’ll have to hire a car to see a railway viaduct, but I got a better idea when I invested in a detailed local guidebook (Guide Routard for the Auvergne, in French). My brainwave was to stay for two nights at the picturesque old town of Saint Flour, and then rent a bicycle to get to Garabit, 13km to the south. This trip has taken a lot of planning!

By now, you may validly be wondering, what makes the Garabit Viaduct such a cult item? It was a pioneer in the era of metal viaducts, which enabled far greater heights and spans than brick or stone. And this one is a thing of beauty, designed by Gustave Eiffel. Although he’s best known for that tower, he was an inspired bridge engineer. The Garabit has a main span of 541 feet, and a height of 407 feet – dizzying when you’re that far up. Definitely worth the trip!

The Ligne des Causses

This is the name of the line from Clermont to Béziers, which is 387km long, about half the length of France: the Garabit Viaduct is its landmark feature. It is like a longer version of the Settle & Carlisle: both are built through incredibly rugged terrain, and neither serves any sizeable towns. They’re heroic gestures, motivated by some long-forgotten goal of railway strategy, and surviving against economic odds.

The one train per day is a poignant decrepit, two-coach unit, covered in graffiti, and it takes six and a half hours. The scenery and engineering are so good that at times I felt stuffed as you might at an exuberant banquet. The line winds through many gorges, with rapid alternation of tunnels and viaducts, large and small.

Some rocky hills above us have ancient castles or fortified villages on top. At one point, we cross a high pass: there’s a perfect medieval chateau, complete with round turrets and conical roofs, and a buzzard gliding between us. Even the station names are tremendously evocative, and should be spoken slowly and savoured: Saint-Georges-de-Luzençon, Banassac la Canourgue, Ceilhes Roqueredonde, Sévérac-le-Château, Tournemire Roquefort.

At times there are huge vistas of great rolling hills, wide valleys and forests. And very subtly, the terrain and the buildings are changing, until I feel we’re in a landscape by Cézanne. The houses have Roman clay roof tiles and pale painted walls, there are swathes of vineyards, and the Mediterranean is close by.

The S&C is nourished by a benign alliance between Network Rail, volunteers, and intelligent local authorities. The tourism benefits are understood and cultivated. Some of the stations, like Settle and Appleby, have been superbly restored, others are rented as holiday cottages. Volunteers even provide a trolley service of refreshments and guidebooks on the trains. Absolutely none of that applies on the Ligne de Causses. I asked the guard if the train stopped anywhere that I could get a coffee. He shook his head, surprised at the question. It was less primitive in 1884!

Souls Journey Resource List

 Souls' Journey  Comments Off on Souls Journey Resource List
Mar 142019


The Soul’s Journey by Hazrat Inayat Khan. This is a fascinating and lucid exploration of the topic, by one of the leading Sufi teachers of the early 20th Century. He believes that each soul has a life which extends far before and after a human incarnation, and he offers many valuable pointers on how a soul in a body can make the most of this experience. He challenges the idea of reincarnation, but believes that souls coming into human life are guided and influenced by departing souls.

Testimony of Light by Helen Greaves. Is there an afterlife beyond this human one? What is it like? If we knew more about the afterlife, could that guide our human life here and now? This book offers some of the most convincing answers to these questions that I have found.

There are two voices in this book: the writer is Helen Greaves, but she is transcribing the voice of her dead friend, Frances Banks. Both were Anglican nuns, colleagues and friends: the book is written in the mid-1960s. Soon after Frances’ death, Helen started to receive a series of messages from her, describing her experiences in the afterlife. For a two page blog on this book see:

Desert Wisdom by Neil Douglas Klotz. This book is a treasure house of key texts from the Middle Eastern spiritual traditions, restored to their full depth by Neil’s beautiful retranslations from the original languages. The book also includes commentaries, body prayers and meditations. It includes a variety of texts relevant to this topic, for example, some of Jesus’ teachings, and parts of Genesis.


Healing into Life and Death by Stephen Levine. Stephen has done pioneering work with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Ram Dass and others with hospices and other projects connected with death and dying. Whilst this book is not about the soul’s journey, it offers excellent insights and resources for anyone with a life-threatening illness, and those who support them. It includes some excellent guided meditations.

Die Wise by Stephen Jenkinson. With lyrical prose, deep wisdom, and stories from his two decades of working with dying people and their families, Stephen Jenkinson places death at the centre of the page and asks us to behold it in all its painful beauty. Die Wise teaches the skills of dying, skills that have to be learned in the course of living deeply and well. Dying well, Jenkinson writes, is a right and responsibility of everyone. It is not a lifestyle option. It is a moral, political, and spiritual obligation each person owes their ancestors and their heirs: how we die, how we care for dying people, and how we carry our dead.

The Warmth of the Heart Prevents your Body from Rusting by Marie de Hennezel. A compassionate exploration by a French doctor of the perils and pleasures of aging. Very helpful about the positive opportunities of late old age and infirmity, and how to complete one’s life narrative. For a blog on this book, see

The Art of Dying by Peter Fenwick and Elizabeth Fenwick. This book was recommended to me by a hospice nurse. It is a guide to the dying process, with a focus on what happens to our consciousness during and beyond death, drawing on both structured research and personal accounts of both dying and near death experiences. They conclude “all the experiences we have been told of point to death being part of a structured and supportive process.” Peter is a leading neuro physiatrist, and his wife has written several books on health and family issues.

Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. Written by one of the most warm and engaging Tibetan Buddhist teachers, this is a relatively approachable way into the deep and complex Tibetan teachings about conscious dying, the life beyond, and how this can enrich life now.

All in the end is Harvest edited by Agnes Whitaker. This is a lovely anthology of writings, poems and prayers to support those in bereavement and other grieving situations.


Dying Into Love: This website offers some powerful wisdom from teachers with a lots of experience in this area, such as Rumi, Ram Dass and Joan Halifax. See

Dying Matters: A UK website raising awareness of dying, death and bereavement. It encourages people to talk about dying, and offers useful practical advice, contacts for support and links to other useful organisations. See

Conscious Ageing Trust: this offers compassionate conversations about death and dying via a growing network of Live Groups, a web-site with a members-only forum, and open access areas for resources and essential information about death and dying. Set up by Max Mackay-James. See Stephen Levine: useful material on his website, and some excellent videos of talks by Stephen and Ondrea Levine are on

Note: this is the resource list developed for the Souls’ Journey workshop in 2015.

Need a new angle on life? Try the soul’s journey

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Mar 142019

Would your situation make more sense if you know you’d chosen it?

If you share my belief that there’s an upside to most problems, where’s the gift in the way life is getting ever more confusing, and reliable information is harder to find? Maybe it’s prodding us to see life from a quite different perspective: as the soul’s journey.

It can be illuminating to imagine that we have a soul which exists before us and chooses this human lifetime, and the family we’re born into, to provide experiences and learning which it needs.  Believing that the challenges in our life have a positive purpose has helped me hugely, and stops me feeling like a victim of circumstances. However, finding the positive aspect can be tricky!

The word soul is used with lots of different meanings. I’m using it in the same sense as several writers I respect, who see the soul as a living spiritual entity whose life may continue for thousands of years, which chooses a series to incarnations to learn and grow.

Some teachers believe these incarnations are always in a human body: some believe a soul may incarnate in a ‘simpler’ life form, like a cat, before human lives. And some believe souls may also incarnate on other planets in forms of life we can scarcely imagine.

This may all sound a bit far-out: it can certainly expand your horizons beyond the daily grind! I have been consciously exploring my soul’s journey for the past few years, and I’m getting quite practical insights from doing so.

Whilst it probably takes time, practice and patience to start a dialogue with your soul, it is worth persisting. I feel I have quite a clear sense of what my soul wants me to learn or change in this current lifetime. And the idea that positive steps I take now will benefit my soul in the longterm future makes those steps more worthwhile.

You’ll find more blogs and resource listings in the Soul’s Journey section of blogs on

The London Underground as a guide to happiness

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Feb 122019

It was in a lull in a long meeting recently that I realised that I was musing on the symbolic significance of the Northern Line.  This is where, after twenty-one miles of tunnel, the Tube emerges into daylight: much as a travailing soul find illumination after the long darkness…

This blog is intended to appeal to seekers for happiness and railway lovers, though it may deter both: give it a couple of paragraphs.  The Tube Network can show us a lot about aspects of our quest for happiness.

Take the Circle Line: going repeatedly round the same circuit, at shallow depth, is like our daily routines, which mindfulness urges us to notice and value, not just rattle through them.

The Central Line and Piccadilly Lines are rich in symbolism. The Heathrow loop reminds us how our deep journeyings can lead to high places, exotic destinations: but if we miss our stop, we head back round into the depths.  Whereas the Hainault loop offers an image of the segue from deep stuff into a rambling rural idyll, and back again.

The transition from deep dark to conscious light

Sometimes part of our psyche may become run-down, decrepit, in need of renewal.  The Docklands Light Railway shows how new routes can help such regeneration, and it doesn’t always need heavy excavation to achieve this.  Imagine your new initiatives prancing lightly across the skyline as new high-rises emerge from the grunge.

You’re doubtless familiar with the idea of neural pathways: how repeated thoughts or feelings create repeating patterns in our brain.  So imagine the famous Tube map as pathways in your brain: what rich complexity, with so many access points and interconnections; and it’s good to realise new routes can be created, and new connections like Crossrail or the Jubilee Line.  The effort and upheaval can be major, but let’s believe that we can dig our way towards our aspirations.

A new route means deep excavations …

I have a soft spot for the Metropolitan Line, helped by John Betjeman’s ode to it. In this exploration, it shows how a starting point deep in the centre can be linked to far-flung, rural outposts of our psyche, like Chesham and Chalfont. It also reminds us how our life journeys can be in style: there used to be restaurant cars on this line!

It’s fascinating to me that there are whole stretches of tunnel, and stations like Aldwych, now disused.  Surely there are echoes here, of the neglected backways of our psyche?

If I lived in London, I might hate the Tube, or take it for granted… As a visitor, I love the speed and ease.  And as a map of life’s journey, it’s exciting to realise how many connections, and possibilities are within easy reach, and how accessible and useful the deep places can be.


Why steam trains matter, and Dampfloks are AOK

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Feb 122019

Many men are searching for meaning, a sense that the events of their life matter and have a shape to them.  I have hatched a belief that steam trains can help in this.

If you’re aged late fifties or older, you’ll have grown up with steam trains in your childhood.  I can recall many maturing men who get excited when I broach this topic, and who plug into vivid memories of magnificent steam engines.

Ik droom van stoom! The Zuid Limburgse Stoomtrein Maatschappij in the Netherlands

I can bang on at length about the lousy features of my childhood, if provoked, but many of the happier times I recall as a kid involve steam trains – either travelling on them with my mother to see my grandparents in Bournemouth, or watching them as a trainspotter.

I know there are legions of other maturing men, as well as me ,who are still in love with steam trains.  Just go to any preservation railway and you’ll see them, both working and travelling. And about 80% of all the people you see on these lines are men, mostly over 50.  These railways, like The Watercress Line in Hampshire where I’m a Life Member, are magic bubbles, coherent worlds of innocence and delight where one feels remote from the miseries of yobs and evil dictators.

You could rubbish this as escapism, but I’d dispute this.  These men are creating meaning in their lives, in a fairly functional and certainly harmless way.  Most men need an activity to bring them together, and here’s a very sweet one, with these extraordinary engines at the heart of it.  You may feel alone and unregarded out there, but here on the railway, you matter, even if you just inspect the tickets or maintain the track.

A 2-10-2 Tank on HSB

The other key point is that steam locomotives are the most lifelike, exciting, endearing of all the machinery man has created.  The ways I can now explain why I loved trains as a child help me feel that my life has a shape and meaning: there’s an extra richness in enjoying steam railways now, because the child in me is rekindled in his delight.

I’m very lucky to have a girlfriend who quite enjoys steam trains too, so they get woven into outings and holidays.  I am writing this in the small town of Wernigerode in eastern Germany, with more excitement than a hot first date. That could be heaven or hell, whereas I know my date with the Dampfloks of the Harzer Schmalspurbahnen will be heaven.

A year ago, I saw a photo in a colour supplement of a superb large steam engine powering along at night, through pine forests.  Through this I learned that the longest steam railway in Europe is in the Harz Mountains: 140 km of routes, with Wernigerode being a main access town.  And here we are!

Steam buffs reading this will already realise that mountain railways are great, because the engines will be stretched to perform.  Now I’m here, I realise it’s even better. The HSB route from here, at 230 metres above sea level, actually climbs to the top of the highest mountain in northern Germany, 1125 metres, and in a fairly short distance.

I’ve come to appreciate the expressive qualities of the German language, but the word for a steam engine, Dampflok is a bit of a damp squib.  However, the engines themselves are superb.  They range from cute small tanks built 1890 and 1918, to massive 2-10-2s built in 1953.

The hot date with the trains surpassed my hopes: partly because the carriages have open verandahs at each end, so you can get the sound, smell and smuts as the engine roars up the gradients.  And the line winds among beautiful forest, with occasional big views. The scenery is not as magical and dramatic as the Settle and Carlisle, or the Faenza in Italy, but it’s good.

For most maturing men, their favourite steam trains are those on the line they grew up near, so I hope you’ll at least understand why I am finishing this blog with a picture of my favourite engines, the original Bulleid Pacifics, at their prime on the Bournemouth Belle. 

Bulleid’s Merchant Navy class Number 35030, Elder Dempster lines, with the Bournemouth Belle

Testimony of Light by Helen Greaves

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Jan 252019

Is there an afterlife beyond this human one?  What is it like?  If we knew more about the afterlife, could that guide our human life here and now?  This book offers some of the most convincing answers to these questions that I have found. 

There are two voices in this book: the writer is Helen Greaves, but she is transcribing the voice of her dead friend, Frances Banks.  Both were Anglican nuns, colleagues and friends: the book is written in the mid-1960s.  Soon after Frances’ death, Helen started to receive a series of messages from her, describing her experiences in the afterlife.  

Reading this book made me realise that my dominant images of the afterlife are quire flimsy and simplistic: a Heaven and Hell, loosely derived from the Old Testament and a lot of medieval art.  Plus a bit of karma dogma from the East.  Whereas Frances Banks describes a more subtle, encouraging afterlife, much closer to the original teachings of Jesus as explored in the work of Neil Douglas Klotz. 

After death, Frances joins the team in a sort of Rest Home:  

“Souls are brought here from earth and from other places… when they are ready…”   

“Many who arrive here are either completely overwhelmed by the fact of a further existence, or disillusioned because … they have envisaged a heaven … (where) henceforth no efforts would be required from them.” 

An example of this further work is “to right the wrongs they have done in their earth lives by concentrated thoughts of forgiveness and compassion.” 

What we might call Heaven is not a static condition, but a long, exciting process of expansion:  

“Our ‘inner eyes’ are opened gradually or swiftly to the errors of our old patterns of thinking and acting. We are allowed to progress into such experiences as will help us to put right these errors.” 

“There are no tenets, no hard and fast rules… All is individual, yet all is for the good of the whole.” 

“Each soul and each group moves onward towards greater expansion… Yet all the same time… directs ‘backward’ to the plane below,… the fruits of its knowledge.” 

Her experience supports the idea of the soul’s life before and after human form, and of reincarnation.  She believes there is “a Pattern and a Plan”, and that “the soul needs to ‘project’ some part of itself back into the denser environment of earth in repeated attempts to master the trials and stresses of those vibrations.” 

And she believes a soul chooses the key events of its forthcoming life, to give it the experiences it needs. 

She reports a conversation with Pierre Curie who says: “Mankind… learns slowly and such slow progress with many mistakes brings pain.  But if you regard life from the angle of an eternal process you get a different feeling about it.  The Life Force is not expanded on only one terrestrial globe.” (p54) 

Frances finds that Soul Groups are an important part of the journey: “We are members not of one group but of many…” these include our Family Group, and Groups of Interest, such as the arts, education, social service.  Typically these groups will include souls in a human life, and souls in the afterlife.  These groups will include people we know in earthly life, possibly those we find repellent, as well as those who we feel strongly drawn to. 

The form of “hell” she describes is far more encouraging than the archetypal pit of flames.  She writes about the Shadow Lands, but explains that people can move beyond them when they choose to turn to the “Light of Love”, and many helpers visit to help souls make this change. 

So what can we learn from all this to guide our life in a body?  Firstly, the idea that we are part of Soul Groups who want to share their wisdom with us, and learn from our experience.  Secondly, that “the great purpose of life in matter is to illumine matter with Spirit”, and “the great secret of finding that Spirit was the ‘letting go’ of self.”  Thirdly, that “the inner life of the soul within the body-mind on earth decides the first future ‘home’ on this level.”  Fourthly, as one of her mentors says, “Prayers and good thoughts for those who have left the earth life, by their fellows still in incarnation are a great aid to our work here.” 

Her experiences give a great sense of continuity and scope for progression.  For example, there are the chances to understand much more deeply what happened during ones earthly life looking back at it, and actually to rectify mistakes one made.  She also comments “That much of what we thought praiseworthy on earth is mediocre to us in the Light of wider knowledge, and conversely much for which we blamed ourselves and were blamed by others, is viewed here from a wider angle and even becomes merit!” 

These are only brief fragments of a really fascinating narrative: worth reading from cover to cover. 

Testimony of Light by Helen Greaves is published in the UK by Rider: ISBN1-8441-3135-1 

Building Wellbeing Together: debrief

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Oct 012018

In September 2017, I was part of the delivery team for a major gathering on this theme, hosted by the Network of Wellbeing and Hawkwood College. This quasi-conference aimed to provide an overview of the wellbeing sector in the UK, and it’s a vibrant and encouraging picture.

Among daily bad news, it’s great to hear of substantial progress, for example the Happy City project in Bristol, Birmingham’s Wellbeing Services, a global view from Oxfam, and Chris Johnstone on Five Shifts for the Wellbeing Revolution

The gathering aimed to explore wellbeing at the personal, community, and world levels, and there were excellent, encouraging session leaders and well-informed participants across the spectrum.
At the personal level, Chris Johnstone offered some valuable fresh perspectives. He spoke of focussing on the best potential outcome in any difficult situation, and aiming to make it more likely. He also described a new frontier in positive psychology: the science of prospection, a different way of looking into the future.

My session on Natural Happiness was well attended and got outstanding feedback. I was helped by being the only workshop outdoors, and by the beautiful orchard and gardens as a setting. You can see more about my Seven Seeds model here.

At the community level, many exciting projects were presented: some small and informal, but several at city scale, and some led by a local authority, such as Birmingham Wellbeing Services. Social prescribing is a valuable new trend, where GP’s prescribe activities which create social contact.

Katherine Trebeck of Oxfam presented a fascinating global view. Oxfam track how many of the world’s richest people have the same wealth as the poorer half of the world population: the ratio is now 8 to 3.6 billion. However, she believes change among the uber-rich is possible, and we all need to keep picturing it.

See more about the event here…