Monday, 16 January 2012

Alaistair Campbell has praised David Cameron for "happiness" & related news over 4 days

The praise is for Cameron's adopting happiness as a goal of government policy.
The newspaper article was headlined: "PM's 'happiness plan' could lift Ed's spirits says Campbell" and is based on words within Alaistair Campbell's e-book "The Happy Depressive".
"It is Cameron who is taking up some of the ideas presented to the predecessor on whom he sometimes models himself. There is a certain amount of courafe required to adopt this approach right now, against the current political backdrop of economic turmoil, austerity, cuts and riots," Mr Campbell says.
(Full article in  The Independent on 12th January 2012 here)

A blast to the Happiness Agenda comes from Isabel Oakeshott in the Sunday Times piece on 15th January (page 13), entitled:
"Sorry, PM, money makes us happy"
The debate continued on the "Today programme" on Radio 4 on Monday 16th January 2012, just before 9am. Lord Layard defended the basis for setting up the "Action for Happiness" organisation:

(On the iPlayer, Slide your slider to 2 hours: 54 minutes and 32 seconds to hear the start of this discussion) 

Friday, 13 January 2012

Seven ways to ease your anxiety, without pills | Wildmind Buddhist Meditation

Seven ways to ease your anxiety, without pills

Someone recently wrote to me asking about how to deal with anxiety. He didn't say specifically what his anxiety was about, so I offered some general advice, which I repeat here in a slightly modified and expanded form in case it benefits others.

1. Cultivate lovingkindness

I've found that doing lovingkindness practice as I go about my daily affairs has a big effect on my anxiety levels. I find it's impossible to be cultivating lovingkindness toward people and simultaneously be worrying about what they might think of me. I'm talking here not of sitting practice (which helps too) but of cultivating lovingkindness as I walk around, drive, etc. There simply isn't the mental bandwidth available to keep up both activities (loving and worrying), and in any event the two kinds of emotions are so different from each other that it's hard for them to coexist. I find that the anxiety disappears quite quickly, but that may not be true for everyone. But that doesn't matter — just keep wishing yourself and others well, and your anxiety will lessen.

2. Reassure your inner child

Anxiety finds something to be anxious about. Once you start working with your anxiety in order to lessen it, your anxiety will turn to the process itself. You'll start worrying that your anxiety isn't budging, or won't go away, that you're going to be stuck with it for life, etc. This is a primitive part of your brain speaking — your amygdala. It evolved to scan for danger, and sometimes it gets out of control. It's screaming at your neocortex — the more rational part of your brain — and hijacking its functions. What you need to do is to turn the dynamic around so that it's the rational neocortex that's setting the agenda for the amygdala. And you do this by exercising your rationality, reminding yourself that change takes time, and that it isn't always possible to see change happening in real time. Can you see a seed grow into a plant in real time? Of course not. You have to observe the change taking place over a long period of time. It's the same with your emotional habits. Perhaps after 40 minutes of meditation there will be some perceptible change. Perhaps not. Perhaps it may take days or weeks. Engage the neocortex and remind yourself — remind the amygdala — that it's OK, that change takes time. Over time, your neocortex gets better at reassuring the amygdala, so that you experience less anxiety. You'll actually develop new pathways in your brain.

Here are some other suggestions:

3. Breathe into the belly

Make sure that you breathe fully into the belly. It centers our experience and slows the mind. Keep your awareness in the hara, a point just below the navel and just inside the body, throughout the day. This is your physical and emotional center of gravity. Keeping your awareness there helps you stay in balance.

4. Sit up!

Watch your posture. Relax the body, and make sure that your body is in the posture it would have if you felt confident. You remember what it feels like in the body when you're confident? Let your body find its way into that relaxed, upright, open posture. You'll feel different.

5. Acknowledge your suffering

Self-compassion is a vital practice: notice that you're suffering when you're in a state of anxiety. Locate the source of suffering in the body as specifically as you can. Send it thoughts of lovingkindness: "May you be well, may you be happy, etc."

6. Count your blessings

As a meditation practice, these days, I become aware that I am in a building, safe and protected from the elements, and I say (inwardly) to the building, "Thank you." I notice that I have plumbing, and electricity, and internet access around me, and I say (inwardly) to all these things, "Thank you." I notice that my body is whole, and basically functioning, and even if there is illness present I know my body has the resources to heal itself, and I say to my body, "Thank you." I notice that my senses are intact, and I say "Thank you." It's important to actually make the sound of the words in your head. There's something about articulating gratitude in the form of words that makes the emotion of thankfulness more real. By focusing on what's right in our lives, we take our awareness away from the things that we image to be wrong, or that we imagine could go wrong.

7. Head it off at the pass

But there are many forms of anxiety, and sometimes they're very specific and can be addressed with very specific antidotes, so it would help if you could identify your core anxiety. What is it that you most commonly fear? What's your worst-case scenario? I used to suffer anxiety when giving talks. My fear was that people were bored with what I was saying. My worst-case scenario — nightmare scenario, really — was that people would start chatting amongst themselves, or would get up and walk out! It was very useful to connect with what my nightmare scenario was, because it allowed me to find ways to avoid that fear arising. Since I was worried that my audience might be bored, all I had to do was to check that they were engaged. I'd ask them a question, right at the start of the class. And their responses would reassure me they had an interest in the topic. The talk would include further questions that would show me their engagement. (Incidentally, this made the talk more interesting, because people like to have an opportunity to interact).

I also used to suffer anxiety because of being overwhelmed with work. My fear was that I would forget some task that was vitally important. I found that planning tools helped me avoid that fear arising.

So I'd suggest facing your nightmare. Ask yourself what is it that you most fear. Then find creative ways to find reassurance.

Learning to do community justice, process our grievances and harmonise.

Sooner or later we "MUST" learn to do community justice, process our grievances, share our resources and harmonise. I write MUST, but there is an alternative; which is to succumb to the much more painful alternatives in the fight for resources in a world with a large social justice deficit, financial deficit and sustainability deficit. Learning to do community justice, process our grievances and harmonise might well start with the work around Hastings Pier and it was a pleasure for Mediation Support Ltd to receive the HPWRT commissioning of a "harmonisation policy" for how the trustees work together. This policy will be published soon for use within your organisations and your wider contact with others too.

With love from

Tel 0780 70 66 202 for more connection than an e-mail; I'll probably have the spare minutes to call back.

Hopefully someone will find something on a blog of mine that leads them to want to have a conversation and from there we can set the ball rolling no doubt.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Caring for Burton St Leonards

With love from

St Leonards Sharing TIMEBANK , "Ethical Outings in Hastings" & the 2nd anniversary of the pier fire.

PRESS RELEASE (On the first day of demolition of another UK Pier - Great Yarmouth)

St Leonards Sharing Timebank now enables you to earn credits to go to the local theatre.

Before securing the Timebank deal with The Stables, The Odeon & The Electric Palace, a performance is taking place at Southwater Area Community Centre, followed by a weekend dedicated to establishing & training the Hastings Community Justice Panel. (Being head-hunted for these posts on the Panel are those most concerned about a just outcome for those who were on the pier on 5th October 2010).

So here's the story line for the 5th October 2012 performance of the drama "Ethical Outings in Hastings":

'In Hastings, the town that is the last bastion against the invasion, the pier burns down and, though two individuals who jumped off the burning pier are apprehended, no one is charged. In storms Paul Crosland (like a bull in a china shop) and his angel friends with some wacky ideas about how justice could be done; not to mention his gaggle of blogs like &

As it says in Hamlet; "the play's the thing wherin we'll catch the conscience of the king".
However, unlike 'decisive Hamlet', my first script writer thinks that this play is "all talk" & I have much dynamic tension still to build in. Thus there will be some action to on the night of the 2nd anniversary relating to the ethics of "outing" people and making life more wonderful for all.'

To see what happened on the first anniversary of the pier fire at the Southwater Centre, facilitated by myself, click here:

Put the second anniversary of the pier fire in your diary now!

In February 2012 a booking form will be in place on

Admission price of the play is 2 hours timebanked - or equivalent. &
Cast vacancies continually available as I seem to teeter people over their edges!

Earn more St Leonards Sharing Timebank credits by acting for justice!

With love from

Tel 0780 70 66 202 for more connection than an e-mail; I'll probably have the spare minutes to call back.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Hastings Amnesty for 5 Pier 'Arsonists' fessing up"

The Hastings Observer Front Page Headline I'm working towards is "Next week will include a 60 Second Amnesty for 5 Pier 'Arsonists' fessing up". (Talk to me or my colleagues for more details, as I will be cautious in putting details on Facebook.) More background info than most people can cope with is at &

With love from

Tel 0780 70 66 202 for more connection than an e-mail; I'll probably have the spare minutes to call back.

Hopefully someone will find something on a blog of mine that leads them to want to have a conversation and from there we can set the ball rolling no doubt.

Couldn't find my copy of 'Story' before setting out the scen

Robert McKee is it who wrote the definitive book (so far) on screenplay writing? Unfortunately, I couldn't find my copy of 'Story' before setting out the scene plan for: The Walking Buddha / Ethical Outings in Hastings


1) Yvonne and Cosette return "home" to a charred house dripping with water. Cosette calls out for Sammy & Suzie and a fireman goes in to bring out the fish tank.
2) Paul opens pier fire anniversary meeting, attended by Howard et al
3) Dr Ambedkar follows Howard out of the meeting and Howard receives a call from Yvonne about her house being burned down.
4) An Indian Summer in 2010 sees Paul & Dr Ambedkar (who died in 1956) out in a boat by the pier
5) Yvonne and Howard have a row.
6) Dr Ambedkar (Bim) becomes Cosette's "secret friend" at her new school - no one else can see him.
7) Yvonne seeks mediation advice from Paul, who suggests a radical text message to the suspects.
8) Joey gets an ultimatum text and fesses up to being involved.
9) Yvonne and Paul process the reply with the help of Dr Ambedkar.
10) Dr Ambedkar follows Paul home and hears how much it means to Paul's wife, Puja to return to India.
11) Paul buries himself in the setting up the Hastings Community Justice Panel and engages with Howard, who shows signs of jealousy in relation to Yvonne and Paul
11) Paul comes up with a "crazy integration solution" for Puja and proposes bringing India & the caste struggle to Hastings.
12) Yvonne goes through the next stages of communication with Joey & Shane
13) The website opens showing the 3 ideas for the HPWRT competition for a design for the new pier
14) Joey, Will, Josh & Will argue about who grassed-up who?
15) The Hastings Community Justice Panel convenes
16) Puja prepares to leave for India