From failure to success


There are times when we all feel we have failed either because we have let someone down, not passed a test or reached a goal. When this happens it is easy to get to the point where we criticise and belittle ourselves.

‘I am so stupid’, ‘How could I have missed that? and ‘Grr’ are all common responses to the shame and frustration that failure can induce in us. For some of us this self-talk is a constant and very present part of our lives. That internal voice that uses our failure to reinforce the self-belief that we are not good enough.

For a few, this will even lead to us not trying, or self-sabotaging,

maintaining the status quo that we are not enough, nor will we ever succeed.

I have worked with many people who don’t even realise that this internal dialogue is there, they accept it as who they are, not ever questioning that self-belief. But here is some things we know about failure:

  • Adults learn best from making mistakes.
  • When you are learning something new or you want to improve, you need to give yourself space to fail and try again.
  • The biggest factor in success in any endeavour is persistence.

Learning to be compassionate with ourselves when we fail is an important skill, it challenges some of the thoughts, ideas and beliefs we have about ourselves. Ultimately compassion will help you to talk to yourself in a new way, to foster a better, more supportive relationship with yourself.

It’s not what happens to us that matters, it is how we work through it and how it affects our relationship with our sense of Self that matters. If you would like to explore this further please get in touch.


Mantras, or what’s in a word?

A mantra is a word, phrase or sound that you repeat over and over whilst you meditate. The sounds may be chanted out loud, or may be heard internally. Mantras serve several purposes:

  • They are a point of focus.
  • They can be used instead of focusing on your breath (particularly useful if you find breath-work upsets your asthma or you have a cold).
  • They can be used as an affirmation to bring that quality or energy into your life.
  • They make your thoughts and feelings manifest, speaking them to your Self.

Some common mantras include:

  • Om.
  • Om, Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthi.
  • Peace.
  • I breath in peace, I breath out negativity.
  • I am enough.
  • Love.

A mantra is usually said or thought in the time it takes to take a breath or marked by passing a bead through your fingers on a mala. For instance ‘I breath in peace, I breath out negativity.’ can be timed so the first half of the sentence is thought or spoken during the in-breath and the latter part during the out-breath.

Meditating this way for 20-30 mins a day is likely to bring the most benefits, but if you can only manage 5-10 minutes during a lunch break that is good too. It could also be used during or after a yoga practice, particularly whist relaxing or meditating at the end.

A good mantra for you would be something that speaks to your soul, that works with where you are now to help you get to where you want to be. A mantra that is right for you now, is not going to be the same as the one you need next week or next month. I would always advise you to play about with your mantra and find the right words for you.

Mantras can profoundly change our thoughts, feelings and perspective on ourselves, our lives and others. It is a powerful tool in your meditation tool-kit.


In this time of Spring with its new growth and seed sowing, think about what qualities or energies you want to bring into your life and work with that as a starting point for your mantra meditation.

Love and light



Listening to ourselves

ReikiYesterday evening I sat down to meditate, settled myself down and started to use my mala beads to mark my breath. The day’s thoughts ran through my mind and slowly began to settle.

I was sinking into the spaces between my thoughts when a thought went by that aroused a flash of anger in me. The emotion was strong and I knew it was time to listen. We often feel that meditation as a pushing away of thoughts, but I find it a good tool to use to focus on the thoughts that matter. Thoughts like this one that were telling me something needed to change.

So I explored my thought, found the piece that was making me feel so het up. It boiled down to injustice and privilege that led to a lack of understanding in a particular situation. Once I had listened to my Self, my instincts and explored my pain I knew the action I needed to take.

Peace flowed into me and I was sure of my decision. I sent love and light to the situation and people that had caused the hurt, but I knew it was time to move on.

Breath by breath I finished my meditation and felt whole again.

No rainbows without rain.

These days it can be easy to fear depression, it is the apparent curse of our age. Depression can be transient, a feeling much like any other that comes and goes like clouds in the sky. The problem comes when the feeling gets stuck, and it stays for weeks, months or even years. The bleakness of depression can be strong, and some lose their lives to it.


Negative feelings like sadness, depression, loneliness, trauma, hurt, anger and loss are useful and essential emotions. They tell us that something is wrong and it needs to be changed, or worked through. Loss of a loved one for instance cannot be changed but it can be worked through with the process of mourning.

Depression is exactly what it says, a pushing down or ‘depression’ of feelings, because the change that is needed or the working through has got stuck for some reason. In pushing our feelings down we maintain the status quo, keeping everything as it is, and at times this might be a desirable outcome. However the longer it goes on the the more we push away or deny a part of ourselves.

In the quote ‘Without the rain, there would be no rainbows.’ Chesterton reminds us that suffering is inevitable, but that if we take a chance, to make the changes we need or to work through our hurts and trauma, we can glimpse the rainbow.

Some people can do this on their own, but others may need help and guidance on their journey with depression. Counselling and some types of meditation can be useful tools. Please seek help if you need it.

Let me know your thought on, and experiences of depression below.



Does meditation have side effects?

I recently came across this article exploring the side effects that meditation, and mindfulness in particular can have:…/23/is-mindfulness-making-us-ill

Mindfulness is often touted as a panacea for many of today’s ills, but is it really a cure all?

I posted the link on my Facebook meditation group for us to discuss, and after 2 hours or so we came up with some questions:

  • Is there anyone for whom meditation isn’t a good thing and why?
  • What is the difference between meditation and mindfulness?
  • How important do you think it is to have a well trained teacher when it comes to meditation?

I thought I would share my thoughts on these questions here, with you.

There is never going to be one therapy/pill/treatment that works for everyone, we are all different biologically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. There are many types of meditation because the ancients who passed down the traditions of meditation knew that there was more than one path to peace. So you need to find what works best for you.

For instance, someone who is hyper-vigilant or avoidant of their thoughts and feelings are likely to struggle with mindfulness as it reinforces their hyper-sensitivity to the world around or provokes anxiety by asking you to concentrate on the things you are trying to avoid. A better option would be for them to learn first to relax, to not see danger in their thoughts and surroundings, to learn to let go.

So what is the difference between mindfulness and meditation? In Western society we like to find that magic ingredient, that extract that we can remove, concentrate and administer to make us better. Mindfulness is an extract of meditation, it is one quality, one skill that improves our focus, bringing us into the present moment allowing us to stop worrying about the past or the future. Mindfulness meditations can work really well for some people, but not everyone.

Meditation is broader in its scope encompassing different types of meditation and relaxation. It is often set within a religious or psychotherapeutic framework, which allows the meditator a space and the resources to work through their emotional and mental baggage. See my blog: Meditation, is it all just sitting around? for a fuller discussion of this process.

Which brings us to the question of the need for a teacher. A good teacher will help you to find the right type of meditation for you, after listening to what you feel, think about and want from meditation. They might ask about your motivation, the type of person you are and if you have experienced depression, anxiety or mental health issues. They will be able to help, guide and support you through the process, particularly when any emotional issues arise. Most importantly a good teacher will have been there before you, faced those struggles and worked through them. Beware the teacher who doesn’t practice what they preach.