eleven things about me
I am an ecopsychologist, a teacher, a coach, a therapist.
I like to say that our life is like a piano. We have a set of keys, some black, some white.
And we can’t change them. But that’s ok. We can play anything we like on them. Could be jazz, could be classical, could be honky-tonk, could be anything. You choose!
So the game of life is to learn how to play yourself in the most beautiful or meaningful way you can.
No one is broken, no one needs fixing. We don’t need to “change” in order to be “someone”. It’s all about learning to play ourselves to create a life that fulfills us. And my feeling is that’s likely to be one that is in harmony with those around us – human and more-than-human too.
So my approach is to introduce you to an experiential awareness of how you are creating your “music” right now. Then introduce you to ways of changing the way you relate to yourself and everything around you, through the body as well as the mind. And then collaborate with you on finding “a way of being” that resonates with you.
My conviction is that it is vital to start with a felt sense of our being, our presence, our awareness before moving on to “doing” and “having”. Goals and aspirations play a vital part in life but often we aspire to achieve or possess in order to feel ok, to feel significant. This is rarely a good strategy.
As Richard Moss says, “We are the answer to our own deepest longing”. What we most seek is not out there somewhere but close at hand – just sometimes buried under “stuff”.
I aspire to help you discover this – in the wild!
I think we are nothing more than very remarkable animals!
This isn’t a bad thing, it’s a wonderful thing. We are part of the magical, beautiful web of life on earth.
It’s only the history of the last few hundred years that has obscured this fact from us!
Every single process in your body – mental and physical – developed over several million years in close interplay with the wild. We share pretty much every process in our body with other creatures. Reflecting on the simple single-celled Amoeba will give you more insights on how you relate to life than you could possibly imagine.
Why does this matter?
Because if our bodies evolved in intimate interaction with nature, and are indeed part of the continuum of nature, then a close attunement with the wild has to be the most holistic way of understanding ourselves (at a personal level but as a culture too).
Think of two violins in a room. Draw a bow across the strings of one and the strings of the second will sound in resonance, in attunement, with the first.
Can we experience the same resonance and attunement, in our own bodies, as we immerse ourselves in the wild?
We all know how good it is to get out into nature. It’s mainstream news now!
I go several steps beyond just “going out into nature”
I teach practices and ways of being that create experiences of deep awareness and attunement with the landscape around you, and, at the same time, the landscape inside you. Then, through questions, suggestions and insights, I cultivate curiosity and awareness to help you discover how you “do” you, so you can explore greater flexibility in the way you live your life and how you experience and relate to the world around you.
I have a lot of tools in the toolbox but they all have one main purpose – to create pathways of awareness that shift and open our relationship with the more-than-human world. And beyond that, with our own selves and with others.
So, in truth, it’s nature that is the real teacher, therapist and coach!
Are my workshops about nature connection or well-being or something deeper?
One thing that might seem confusing about my work is “who is it for?”
You might be someone who wants to experience nature more deeply but isn’t interested in the more “personal development” aspects of the work.
You might be someone who is looking for some support with mental health challenges but are not interested in the more explorative psychological and philosophical journeys.
And you are not sure what you are going to get!
What I have discovered is that the same core approaches, because they explore our sensory and psychological experiences in the context of nature, can be taken in many different directions. So the practical content of many of the workshops is similar but I take the application of what you are experiencing into very different territory depending on how the workshop is described.
So read the descriptions carefully and chose what sort of focus you want to sign up for.
I have spent my entire life curious as to how to live life well. This gives me a breadth and depth of insight that people are always remarking on.
What I teach feels uniquely my own work, however, we all stand on the shoulders of giants!
Some people like to know where you are coming from … if you are not one of those, do jump to No. 5!
A key foundation is my training in Neuro-Lingusitic Programming (NLP).
NLP has been described as “the science of subjective experience”.
Whilst I “do” very little NLP these days, it remains the foundation of my work, which gives me a distinction from many others working in nature. I see everything through its lens of “the map is not the territory”, its radical sensory acuity – noticing difference, and its artistry of working with subjective experience.
I trained with one of the most inspiring teachers in the UK, Judith Lowe, who remains a dear friend and mentor.
She taught me NLP with a passion for social change, equality, the planet and humanity rather than primarily business and personal success.
NLP is like a martial art, who you learn with matters. Judith’s style and values deeply affect what I do.
Contemporary neuroscience provides eye-opening insights into the experiences we have in the wild.
The Polyvagal Theory of Stephen Porges, the right and left brain’s modes of attention of Ian McGilchrist, and the neurological basis of our sense of self of Demasio are three game-changers for me.
I love to use them as poetry and myth, as much as hard facts, as guides to understanding our experience.
My approach is also deeply influenced by Generative Coaching (the work of Robert Dilts and Stephen Gilligan) and Radical Awareness (the work of Richard Moss).
The magical David Abram started me on my journey twenty or so years ago and still greatly inspires me (The Spell of the Sensuous, Becoming Animal).
The thinking of Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty give me an academic foundation for working only with “what is” rather than any form of metaphysics, spiritual or otherwise.
And then there’s the transpersonal psychology of Michael Washburn (The Ego and the Dynamic Ground), which I find far more compelling than that of Ken Wilber.
And the oft-overlooked genius of Gregory Bateson.
Like so many, I have learned much from the ways of indigenous people across the world.
And Mindfulness, Aikido, Chi Gung, Bio-energetics, Tantra and Taoism – I could go on forever!
Though mostly, I have learnt from each and every person who has attended a workshop. Every experience had by each person is actually the most significant thing to pay attention to (rather than the head full of ideas!).
It’s a rich range of sources, out of which I aspire to bring something both unique and life-enriching.
I am a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner and Trainer.
I am Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) accredited.
I have a Masters degree in Phenomenology (rough translation: the study of how we experience and make meaning in the world).
Working with teams and leaders
Alongside the work described on this site, I also deliver experiential team training programmes with my collaborator and friend, Toby Buckle.
We work mainly, but not exclusively, with staff teams and leaders at Universities in the south of England.
Our focus has increasingly been on wellbeing, stress management and communication.
We work at a deeper level than most team and leadership training whilst all the time remaining business friendly in our language and approach.
If our clients are up for it – some of the approaches from this site make it into our training.
If you are interested check out our website.
In another life, I worked 25 years for several global organisations including IBM, American Express and Royal & Sun Alliance.
I ran some big global and European technology programmes, often leading teams spread across the globe.
In the second half of my career I developed and delivered training programmes for IBM and American Express in UK, Europe and USA.
At IBM I curated their ‘Top Talent’ programme dedicated to the development of those destined to be their leading technical people.
Seems a long time ago now!
What makes me smile is that I am the last person who should be doing this stuff.
I was your typical bloke – living in my head, out of touch with my body and emotions …. and even more out of touch with those of other people.
I still have a way to go but I am defintely at ease in myself and my body. And so much more attuned and able to respond positively to the restless sea of thoughts, emotions, sensations that make up “me”.
What I teach has been tested on me – and countless others.
This gives me the confidence to say that my approach is likely to make a big difference to you too!
I care about people who don’t get the chances others get.
Over the past 10 years I have spend 50% of my time delivering my workshops to those experiencing disadvantage in the community.
My “Be Your Best”, “This is the Real Me” and “Wild Mind” programmes delivered through communty hubs across Brighton have helped almost 700 hundred people move into employment, improved mental health and other significant life changes.
More recently, it has just been Wild Mind, for those facing mental health challenges, that I continue to offer but this part of my work still matters a lot to me.
From time to time I slip away to a tiny blue shepherd’s hut, with oak and hazel, pheasant and deer as my neighbours, in a woodland in mid-Sussex.
Don’t worry, I am not a hermit, mostly I spend my time in a rather wonderful medieval cottage in the heart of Lewes.
But the hut is where I go to deepen my own understanding by learning from the best teacher there is – the natural world – and to explore things that then emerge in the workshops.
And where I work at learning to write, in the hope that a book might arrive one day!
“Everything I am going to tell you is wrong”.
I love to start my workshops by saying that!
After the bemused faces soften, I explain. “Who cares if it’s right or not – what matters is whether it gives you something useful to enrich your life?”
The thing that matters to me is, “Does it work?”, “Does it give you the result you want?”.
Everything else is backstory.
And the only way to discover if something works, is to try it!