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5 books


Continuing the ‘five things’ theme that I started last week, in this post I wanted to share five books that have touched me and changed my way of thinking. I wouldn’t say these are my ‘top five’ reads ever, but more ones that have triggered a way of thinking or have shifted my life in some way. For each book, I provide you with a link - so that you can find out a little more about the text and the author.


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Last week, I used Portia Nelson’s poem “Autobiography in 5 chapters” to illustrate the therapeutic journey. What I didn’t share was my personal interaction with that piece. I went to a coaching conference in London (I think it was in 2008) and one of the speakers read out the poem - it touched me, it opened something up in me. And, just a couple of months later, I started working with the reader of that poem: a psychotherapist from the psychosynthesis tradition.

At the weekend, I was listening to an interview with Claudio Naranjo - a man who is becoming a big influence in my personal, professional and spiritual lives - and he used an expression from Gregory Bateson: that all our thoughts and reflections come from, with, and through stories. I shared last week’s poem because of its impact on me, the story behind my meeting the poem is why I hold the poem so dear. That therapist encouraged me toward the transpersonal path - and that path became meditation and then Buddhism. If I hadn’t heard the poem, if I hadn’t been so inspired, where would I be now?

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January is a month when people are often attempting to re-write (at least part of) their life story: resolutions to change habits, a chance to re-boot and try new attitudes and approaches to life. In the past week, I have sat with many of my clients expressing their wish that 2018 is different, that their life will be different, that they can be different.

But how DO we change when there is so much momentum behind continuing to act in the ways we always have done?

One of my favourite poems is Portia Nelson’s “Autobiography in Five Chapters”. For me, this encapsulates the journey from living unconsciously to one with more awareness. And in the view of Gestalt psychotherapy, the type of therapy I work with, awareness is the vital ingredient for change and well-being.