After years of researching and trying things to heal her mind, body and spirit Polly shares her knowledge through books, classes, workshops and retreats.
I often point clients touched by cancer (and those who aren’t) to Polly’s website which has a mind blowing amount of information on it. Polly’s strapline is “To inspire others to live a happier and healthier life and do everything in their power to achieve this in every moment”, and she does this in abundance.
Everyone could learn something from this amazing young woman regarding living fearlessly and I was honoured to get to interview her.
Hi Polly. I am an avid follower of your blog but for those that don’t know your journey so far could you please tell us the history of your cancer diagnosis and orthodox treatments you undertook?
I was diagnosed with cervical cancer at 24 and had keyhole surgery and simultaneous chemo and radiotherapy. The cancer returned in my lymph nodes in my neck for which I had radiotherapy on earlier this year. I have also just had 4 cycles on chemo.
Wow that’s such a lot to cope with both on an emotional and physical level. It was a brave step to take time out from conventional treatments and take the holistic approach to wellness. Did you meet with mixed reactions from those who love you?
My family and friends were totally supportive of my decision and my consultant was happy for me to do what I wanted even though it was against her recommendation of radiotherapy.
Receiving the right support can make so much difference. Diet is one of your biggies, you are such an advocate of juicing. Is everything you eat raw?
I'm not 100% raw but I do eat a lot of raw food in the form of juices and smoothies.
As a nutritional therapist I am pretty healthy but when I eat out I tend to have whatever I want. Clearly for you, you need to keep your diet consistently as clean as possible. Do you still manage to eat out socially?
Eating out isn’t a problem as I chose the healthiest and greenest thing on the menu as possible, cooked or raw. Sometimes I have been known to ask for a meal to be made from scratch with different veggies that are already on the menu.
It’s great when you come across an accommodating and creative chef. Where's your health at now?
Improving everyday with my tumour markers getting lower and lower, which is a good thing.
That’s fantastic. Your positive mind set and desire to heal and really inspirational. I love that you share your journey. Would you change anything if you could?
Yes! I’d be cancer-free!
I look forward to the post when you are. Polly, what is the main lesson you have learnt you would like to pass on?
That you can live a perfectly normal and happy life even with cancer. It’s about how you deal with it on a daily basis that matters and makes a difference to your quality of life.
Very true and something that applies to all situations. Living in the Now really does make all the difference.
Polly you are one of the busiest people I know, thanks so much for taking time out of your day to talk to us.
By Louise Jensen
When I was 17 my then boyfriend told me I was fat. That throwaway comment stayed with me spiralling years of tears, tape measures and weighing myself so regularly the scale sighed when I approached. My self-esteem was on the floor and already a naturally shy person my confidence became non-existent.
What I needed, at that tender, vulnerable age, was someone to show me how to love myself regardless of how I looked. To make the inside more important than the outside. To make me see that I was perfect regardless of how little or much I weighed.
Brie Mathers, founder of “Love the skin you’re in” does exactly that. Her journey through anorexia (read her story on the about you page) has led her to reach out through seminars, online programmes, retreats and mentor-ship helping thousands of people change their body image and go on to lead awesomely authentic lives.
Brie and her team which includes a dietician, clinical herbalist and yoga instructor strive to the gnawing hunger inside many, not with food, but with love.
I was delighted to interview this kick-ass inspirational lady.
Brie thanks for agreeing to talk to us today on what can be a sensitive subject. It’s great you are using your experiences to help others recover. I know my poor self-image started with a mindless comment. Was there a trigger for your eating disorder?
At the time of my eating disorder a negative voice had turned on and turned up on the inside. My body was taking on more feminine curves and I was challenged by food reactions, challenging social dynamics including bullying and performance pressure.
Adolescence can be a rough ride. So what changed after many years of suffering and trying to hide your problem? Was there a pivotal turning point for you where you wanted to stop hiding and start living?
I was afraid to brave the beach during a family vacation in Florida. I sat cuddled up on the couch watching an episode of Oprah when a guest came on and said that his turning point was asking himself the question “Can you imagine spending every day for the rest of your life like this?” That was all I needed to hear. I was going to summon to courage within me or die. I chose the path of courage.
I love when clients of mine decide to take that path. Empowerment shines out of them. I know that your Zen practice was essential to your recovery and you now have over 10 years both practice and study with residential training in a monastery which sounds incredible. Is it ok to use the word recovery? Tell me do you class yourself as recovered or recovering?
Recovered. 100%! Recovery isn't about never having a negative thought about our bodies. It's about the bandwidth we give our suffering. I don't entertain those thoughts on the days they show up. I am wholeheartedly engaged in spiritual practice, radical self-care, moderate movement, and nourishing food and social choices. My life is filled with magic, intention, purpose and awakening. I live for playing my part in the easing of human suffering.
It is clear you are achieving that. Your strap-line is "inspiring young women to lead authentic lives. Could you please tell us a bit about the mediums you carry this out through?
“Bodymind Talk” is a previous incarnation of what is now called “Love the Skin You're In”.
My talks have an inspirational quality. They light the way forth from any behaviours that are harmful - be they depression, substance addictions, disordered eating, or cutting by appealing to the authentic, intuitive voice that lives within every young woman. My facebook online community Love the Skin You're In Source It From Within provides another platform for dialogue. I love my follow-up yoga and mindfulness workshop Body Image Meets Embodiment.
Participants embrace the potent medicine of mindfulness. An exploration of the joy to be found in direct sensory experience, this is a stress management for self-care workshop that presents techniques for healthy living and positive relating. After opening and calming their minds and bodies through basic yoga and pranayama breathing exercises, participants are encouraged to dis-empower their negative ‘inner critic’ dialogue by attending to moment-to-moment sensations of the body. Composed and self-possessed, participants are now poised to learn skills for relating sustainably with self and others through emotional clearing techniques that honour feelings and affirm needs. Through a blend of insight, loving kindness and hip tunes. I am planning a Stellar Sister Training retreat in the Santa Cruz mountains this summer.
This sounds like something everyone should experience, regardless of their health circumstances.
I am hearing lots more about eating disorders through the media etc. than I did say 20 years ago. In your opinion Brie, are eating disorders on the increase or is it just becoming more acceptable to talk about them?
I think Eating Disorders have become a rite of passage into young womanhood for most. Stars like Alanis Morrissette, Katie Couric, Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato and more have helped open the gates to a more public discussion. Yes it's becoming more acceptable to talk about them.
What is the most vulnerable age for a young girl/woman?
I think that depends on her circumstances but in general studies show that girls have powerful self-esteem at age 9 and this plummets by age 13.
I know even at my age, with the lessons I have learnt so far, I can still sometimes look at a celebrity magazine image and think “I want a body like that”, even though I am aware how unrealistic and airbrushed many of them are. How big an influence do you think the media has on young women's self-esteem and body image?
I think the media is the single leading negative influence on young women's self-esteem and body image.
It is scary how exposed our children can sometimes be. There are many pro ana sites. Should parents be more vigilant monitoring their child's website usage?
Absolutely. Young people are averaging 9 hours daily digitalized. It's helpful to limit this time altogether and place priority on outdoor time, family time, and meal time.
Wow, that’s a huge amount of time. I agree family time is so important. I like to eat my meals around the table with my children to give us all a chance to talk.
Brie thanks so much for taking time out of your insane schedule to talk to The Happy Starfish. I really believe in what you are doing and hope, some day in the future, programmes like yours are offered as standard in schools around the world.
It’s been a pleasure Louise.
I was so excited, therefore, to recently meet Lucinda and interview her for The Happy Starfish. Even more thrilling is that she is nicer than I could have ever imagined. Rather than this just being an interview it turned into a thought provoking and enlightening experience. Funny how the learning comes when you least expect it.
You started off as a singer songwriter but that’s evolved into quite a spiritual existence. Was that a gradual progression or something you have always felt was there in you?
I have always been obsessed with music and written songs from a really early age, I was writing at age 6, so that was something I came out doing. I always felt I was here for a reason and I have always been a seeker of truth. I was asking questions very young such as “why are we here” “why are some people starving in the world and we’re not” those kind of questions. Getting quite angsty about them when I was very little. I was an intense child.
Did your beliefs come from your family? Are they as spiritual as you?
They all have a faith in God but not in the same way I had. I was asking the priests questions and if they couldn’t answer them I wasn’t satisfied. My mum said you should just have faith but I thought that’s rubbish. You can just know.
Did you feel torn between the music business and following your true spiritual path?
I had some pop success and wrote a number one hit. I got to the top of my little mountain at the age of around 23 and thought this is a bit rubbish really because it wasn’t like I had imagined, people were backbiting and I thought it’s not supposed to be like this.
Did you become disillusioned?
Yes I realised it was all a bit of an illusion. I thought this is not what I want then. I seriously entered a spiritual path whereas before I had been dabbling, going to workshops, asking questions and reading. I read The Power of the Subconscious Mind when I was 18 and realised this was very true. I thought wow this is amazing. You can programme yourself and learn to be happy. You can cultivate happiness and cultivate peace.
It’s quite unusual to be so enlightened so young. My path, as many I know, has been a slow progression.
In my belief system I feel I am an old soul. Us old souls tend to be intense and we want the truth, we don’t want to mess about. From that point of view I think I came in with that already there.
I am interested in the Raj Yoga you practice. I know from experience it can take some time to find a form of meditation that feels right. Was that the case with you?
I stumbled upon Raj yoga. I had never meditated consistently before. I had dipped in and out but because I have quite an active mind I found it a bit boring. I think at that time it was my time and so when I sat down at the Raj Yoga Centre in Slough I had very powerful experiences and I don’t think they were down to me. I think that was a gift I was given. Later on they stopped and I had to learn to walk myself.
What led you to the Yoga Centre?
Andrew Blisset (ex-partner & half of Bliss) went through Toni di Bart the guy we had written a number one hit with. His sister was a meditator and he went to her flat and she said there is a centre around the corner from you in Slough so he went. I thought I had to leave him to have something for himself because I was doing a hypnotherapy group, going to workshops and using positive thinking affirmations. He went straight to the Brahma Kumaris and after about 10 months I was talking to him about it and thought this is powerful I need to find out what this is about and then we went on a 15 year journey.
Refreshingly it all appears to be free?
It’s all free. It’s very powerful, very beautiful vibration.
Do you teach this?
Workshops I teach are based on things I have learnt along the way, positive thought, using the mind, mindfulness and then also a lot of the teachings of the Reach Approach. A group of holistic therapists I got involved with after I had a massive crisis. My relationship broke up, I left my home, my spiritual family (age 40) and I had a total melt down. I started going to the Reach Approach and it was amazing. I was helped through my crisis quite quickly. I am not finished, it’s an on-going process and I am training with the Reach Approach now but because of my practice it changed my life pretty quickly. I went through a really bad time but it was worth it because I discovered a real strength.
They sound an amazing group of healers. What if you don’t live near enough to physically attend?
Go onto their website and download all the free stuff, there is a whole library. There are training therapists in the Reach Approach way all over the country and they are all accredited therapists first and then they do the training with Reach. It’s becoming a nationwide project. It’s a small organisation. Very incognito.
One of my favourite ever quotes is by you Lucinda; “Find 20 things a day for which you are thankful, when you practice thankfulness you create newness”. Is that something you consciously do every day?
When I was in crisis and living in a little flat in Oxford and going to the Reach Approach every week in-between I was just doing work on myself I was doing 40 a night, physically writing them down. I was doing radical forgiveness consciously writing it. I did six months’ worth of work myself.
Where are you at now personally and professionally?
I have just finished a two year advanced diploma in counselling so I am now qualified to have a private practice. I am on my way to having accreditation with the BACP as well which will take me another 2 years. I am committed to doing that because I want to be a good practitioner. I am running regular workshops.
Where do these take place geographically?
I live partly in Cornwall and partly in London so I alternate between the two running 8-12 week courses I take a small group of 9 or 10 people through a process of naming and owning which is a Reach Approach process.
What does that entail?
It’s about facing yourself and getting real about what it is that holds you back, your demons, facing yourself in an honest but compassionate way, not a judgemental way. It’s called aspiring for authenticity. Let’s get real about this, let’s take responsibility but let’s do it kindly, let’s do it together. It’s a deep process but you can choose to avoid it. Some people in the group do it and change their lives but some people avoid it because they are not ready. I name all the stuff I am, I am inconsistent, and I am rubbish. You usually get some really deep stuff like I hate myself or am worthless and then you have to own it, you recognise it is yours. It may have been given to you from the outside. You may have taken messages from the outside world but you essentially created for yourself so it is a process of coming to that with compassion and then surrendering. Surrendering is the process of forgiveness and gratefulness, passion for the self. I am this but it’s ok and that leads to empowerment.
It sounds like something everyone could benefit from.
It’s very challenging and beautiful. The group is safe so people can really go there so it really can change the way you are in the world. I lost my temper and I am angry but that’s ok. It’s about making that your friend, not something you have to squash and quell but recognising it’s there but that’s ok.
Yes a lot of people can resist emotions they deem to be negative can’t they?
Yes even ego is there I am in my ego but that’s ok.
It’s all about accepting and loving yourself then?
Yes it really is, on every level. That’s what this whole journey is all about.
It sounds a beautiful journey. What’s next for you? Anything musically.
My next project will be songs and meditation for people who are living with cancer.
Is that something you have been personally touched by?
Yes I have had one friend leave the body, other friends recover and friends who are mid process. I have been contacted by various people who want me to do workshops for people who are sick. I seem to be surrounded by it.
That’s sad but it has given you the opportunity to help?
Yes. I am researching that at the moment. I had an amazing session a couple of days ago with a friend who has ovarian cancer who has done the juicing and has finished that and has had chemo and really listening to her about what has helped and what would have helped. Learning from people who have been through it and learning from their wisdom. She is a very conscious person anyway. I have been taping people who are going through it in conversation with me and then extracting their wisdom from that and then writing mediations and music to go with it. I am really looking forward to that because it’s a big part of my heart.
When will that be available?
I am still researching as I want to do properly so probably spring next year. I need the right title. That will come. I will wait. I have learned a little bit of patience. Things happen when they are supposed to happen. Waiting. Letting go of that need that things are supposed to happen.
I let go of that need through regular meditation. Do you make meditation a part of your day every day now?
I aim to but I don’t always achieve it I’m going to be really honest. I am about to run an 8 week mindfulness course. If I am about to run it I need to be doing it, that’s my adage really. I don’t want to talk about stuff I am not doing myself. It’s a good way for me to get back to an hour a day, kick-start my habit of that because that was my habit for many years. I feel I almost had to let go of that to find out what life was like without it.
My life is slightly insane when I don’t meditate regularly. I don’t cope well.
That’s what I have come to, my anxiety rate goes up, my overwhelming goes up. My ability to focus goes I lose my clarity. I do meditate. Even though I may not sit for a regimented period I am checking in all the time. I do sit quietly and ask what’s going on? What’s happening in my internal world? I am very good at taking responsibility for that and not just throwing it at other people anymore. Saying that I will probably just go out and shout and somebody!
You live in such a beautiful environment. I guess it’s easy to connect out in nature?
Yes I am out in nature all the time. I was out yesterday running on the moors with my partner. We were in this mossy wood where I don’t think anyone has been for years and I just love that sitting in a place where people don’t go. So that’s mediation too. I run. Yesterday I was practicing when I was running. I run very slowly, I am not putting myself as an athlete. I run very slowly and I practice I am harmony, my body is harmony. I am relaxed as a run. I practice those kinds of thoughts so I am mediating as I run without necessarily sitting. I meditate in the bath a lot.
As a huge fan of your music I have to ask if there is another album in the pipeline?
There will be a new solo album next year. I want to get back to something simple and sacred. I am doing a silence tour next year in June which will be very powerful. I am going to be keeping silent for about 8 days only breaking my silence when I sing at night. Worthing, Oxford, London, Birmingham.
What’s your thought behind that?
It’s a chance for me to go deep inside. I believe that when you go deeply into silence and reconnect with self and divine then that will come out in the music. So every night there will be a concert and my feeling is it will be very powerful and healing so depending on whatever is required I think people could have quite a powerful experience if they come. I am going to be coming from a very altered space. It’s about service; a lot of them will be free. I am a great believer that you have to do service in the world.
Lucinda, I really could sit and talk to you all day. It has been really enlightening and an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for talking to The Happy Starfish today.
‘Is Your Life Mapped Out? Unravelling the Mystery of Destiny vs Free Will,’published by Hay House.
So David, interesting title; what’s it actually about?
It’s exploring the balance that exists between the forces of destiny and the power of free will and demonstrating that they can, in fact, work simultaneously. It’s the deepest book I have written and I think it’s my best book so far.
David this book contains your fascinating new theory ‘The Tree of Probable Life’. You explain that there are multiple futures existing simultaneously. What then dictates which future we experience?
The tomorrow you experience is a consequence of the choices you make today. Life is a process of jumping tracks and whatever choice you make there are branches available to you. Reality and quantum physics dictates there are two or more different tracks running but we will only ever experience one.
Do you believe then that we can, to an extent, consciously influence our future?
Yes. Momentum carries us along a predictable path as we think, on average, 90% of the same thoughts as yesterday. When we question who we are and our beliefs, we can make a change to our future.
How will you respond to any cynics who question this theory?
I’d invite them to take a look at the science because that’s where we begin to see that stuff that previously might have sounded preposterous has now actually been done in the lab.
What will people to gain from reading this book?
Does this book contain practical tools we can implement to enable us to reach our goals?
Yes it does.
It sounds fantastic. When is it released?
1st October 2012.
I can’t wait to read it. I love the feeling of hope and positivity I get after reading your writings. It’s a very refreshing contrast to the pessimism regarding the state of the planet and the human race we often hear about. Can you please leave us with some optimistic words today?
The underlying nature of reality is oneness, unity. Biologically we are all working towards love. Kindness and compassion are causing our species to thrive. The future looks bright. It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you do it with kindness. It’s all about love.
Beautifully put. Thanks for your time today David. I wish you every success with this book.
By The Happy Starfish
17 year old Ellie who was born in Walsall trains for 9 sessions a week, two hours at a time in Swansea where she now lives part time.
Ellie suffers from achondroplasia (dwarfism) doesn’t let her 4ft 1” height and shortened limbs deter her from her dream. Ellie demonstrates that with strength and dedication she can leave her longer limbed rivals behind, so far winning an impressive gold in the 400m freestyle (in which she knocked 5 seconds off of world record time), gold in the 200m individual medley and a bronze medal in the 50m.
“Winning bronze was a massive surprise” Ellie says. “This is my 4th best event so to come out with a bronze medal overtakes my personal best which is what I was aiming for. My coach is going to be really chuffed”.
For a modest Ellie however, this is far from her first big win. She was Britain’s youngest competitor at Beijing 4 years ago winning 2 gold medals in the 100m and 400m freestyle events.
In 2008 Ellie won the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award as is strongly touted to be this year’s BBC Sports Personality winner.
In 2009 Ellie was the youngest person ever at 14 to receive an MBE.
“It’s great if people out there in the world watching the Paralympics get inspired”, Ellie says. We can’t speak for anyone else but here at The Happy Starfish we are inspired and will be following this phenomenal young lady’s career with interest.
Sandy, you help people eradicated their unhealthy beliefs through your Mind Detox Method to enable them to feel at peace, why do you recommend meditating too?
Therapy works on changing the mind, meditation works on changing the relationship with the mind. It is very powerful to combine a good form of therapy with a good form of meditation that can help you to reconnect with the permanent, on-going experience of life.
In your opinion, is therapy not enough on its own?
It can be but there is a very high chance that when the client goes home they are going to find a new problem because that's what the mind does. Often that person then thinks it’s because that therapy didn’t work but the therapy did work, but the real ultimate problem is thinking so much.
So if you don’t think so much you don’t keep coming up with new problems?
Exactly. When you stop thinking so much you get present and start to experience the perfection of life and more peace, happiness, more love and contentment.
So we can use meditation as a tool to keep us in the present moment?
Why do we find this so difficult to do naturally?
The mind by its very nature is very judgemental and wants to put everything in a box, whether good, bad, right, wrong, better or worse and as long as we are in that cycle and constantly thinking then we can not only feel that something is lacking in our life but we can be missing the present moment because thoughts are always taking us to the past or the future.
Ah, I can totally relate to that because I was forever thinking about the past wishing I was healthy again. You always seem so relaxed. How would you sum up living in the present?
You can’t help but rediscover the permanent aspect of you, the underlying nature of you and all reality which we suggest is still, silent space or consciousness and if someone is exploring consciousness then they are exploring peace and love and contentment.
You make it sound very beautiful and you clearly love teaching?
I want to share the experience of peace with others, it is not an intellectual, conceptual belief, meditation is freeing and liberating and helps you reconnect with your inner experience of peace.
And I can vouch for the fact it really does work. Thanks Sandy, as always, it has been a pleasure.
I was really happy to be able to chat to David recently and thrilled to find that the love that radiates out from his books is, in fact, genuine. David really does care and dedicates his life to educating people to unleash the hidden power of their minds. Of course I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions to appear exclusively on The Happy Starfish.
David, you have been a great inspiration to me and made me realise that despite what doctors, x-rays and scans may say there is always hope and I do, in fact, have an important part to pay in my own healing. What inspired you to explore the mind/body connection so deeply?
It was learning of the placebo effect while I worked in drug development in the pharmaceutical industry. I started to investigate the chemistry that occurred in the brain and body when a person believed something.
It’s a fascinating subject. Your books have been critical to my recovery so far and I have been massively encouraged by the case studies in them. What is the greatest physical healing you have seen?
I tend to hear from people rather than actually see them myself. I do know people who have used visualization to help their recovery from illness and disease though - for instance cancer. Of course, they used medicine too. Visualization isn't a tool you use instead of other things, but something you use in addition to other things, which might include a healthy lifestyle change. I have used visualization on myself on several occasions, especially as a very physically active person, mostly to help with recovery from muscle strains.
Fortunately I've not been ill for a few years. I did have a chest infection back in 2008 and have had the odd cold.
That’s fortunate – need you fit and healthy to carry on with your amazing work. So what’s next for you?
That’s great – looking forward to reading that already. Thanks for taking the time to speak to The Happy Starfish.
Robert, you have had such a positive impact on my state of mind following my accident, who or what has inspired you?
I have been a student of A Course of Miracles for 18 years. A Course in Miracles is a complete self-study spiritual thought system. As a three-volume curriculum consisting of a "Text", "Workbook for Students", and "Manual for Teachers", it teaches the way to universal love and peace through forgiving others.
My mentor is Tom Carpenter, author of “The Miracle of Real Forgiveness”. The Miracle of Real Forgiveness is about letting go of our misperceptions of who we are and what the world appears to be, and opening our mind to a difference experience we cannot now imagine. While separateness is still our dominant belief, we are actually now in the process of changing that perception. The understanding of a harmony and unity beyond all forms inspires the practice of many levels of forgiveness, leading ultimately to the recognition within each of us a unity that has never changed, but has been hidden behind our present belief.
Wow, that sounds amazing. It must be such a privilege to have helped so many people around the world. What are the most common blocks to happiness you have found?
The search for happiness is the biggest block to happiness. There is a world of difference between searching for happiness and following your joy.
Indeed, I discovered you at a point I was doing neither but your teachings have helped me enormously. You have been working in this field a long time now, does it still bring you as much joy? What is the best part about what you do?
I love the work of The Happiness Project because I know that when people understand true happiness they also spread that happiness to others.
Paying it forward? Hmm I like that idea. Are you working on anything new?
Yes. I am writing a book called Loveability which is about knowing how to love and be loved. It will be published by Hay House in March 2013.
I will be pre-ordering that as soon as I can. Robert, thank you so much for your time.
Maitreya, for the purpose of becoming a meditation master, went on to university to complete an MA degree in Buddhist Theology and lived the life of a Zen monk for a time. But he felt the monastic life was too harsh, rigid and out of date. Maitreya left Japan to spend a year in Thailand, then went travelling in India and Nepal where he began teaching meditation for a few years.
Through the invitation of a friend he came to England. He stayed in various centres and universities around the country, Reading University, Cambridge University and Lancaster University, etc., teaching and lecturing. It was whilst staying in Teversal in Nottingham he came across a property for sale in North Clifton which became a base from which to teach meditation. Pure Land was born in 1973.
Maitreya's main aim in creating the garden was to provide a peaceful, beautiful area which guests and visitors to the centre could enjoy. So in 1980 he began the process of transforming two acres of flat field and wilderness into a Japanese garden. With no previous gardening experience, he plunged into the task, feeling his way as he went along. As North Clifton was in a flat area, Maitreya missed the hilly and mountainous scenery of Japan and so started to create his own in miniature. The earth dug out by the JCB in order to create the pond was heaped roughly into 'hills' to be shaped by hand later. The large stones came mostly from a quarry in Derby and these were spaced out around the pond area to be positioned meditatively and harmoniously one by one. The winding paths took their lead from the positioning of rocks. Then, little by little, the other features were added from the Japanese repertoire of traditional garden elements such as water, carp, bridges, moss, bamboo, evergreens, maples, cherry, stone lanterns, etc... to be blended with a dash of English plants and elements too. A case of East and West in radiant harmony! Many plants were given by friends and villagers, and local farmers helped with the task of ferrying stones. The small pagoda was built using scrap materials he found in the out-buildings, a Zen garden, which consists of rocks and chipped marble, has been completed and a Japanese Tea House for tea ceremony use. Now the world's first - we believe - crystal garden is near completion.
BA Award for Horticulture - 2008
Businessman of the Year - 2008
Healthy Living Award - 2009
Lifetime Achievement Award - 2009
The garden has been featured many times on television, magazines and newspapers, and is also featured in the following books:
The Inspirational Garden (AA Books)
The Good Gardens Guide (Readers Digest)
The Most Amazing Gardens to Visit in Britain (Readers Digest)
Website - www.buddhamaitreya.co.uk/index.html
By Louise Jensen
Tonya Sheridan has been one of the leading life coaches for 25 years and receives phenomenal feedback for the programme she devised. Also a successful writer Tonya is very much in demand but took time out of her busy schedule to speak to The Happy Starfish.
I believe you started in this field due to your own health problems - could you elaborate on them please if not too personal?
I would rather not elaborate on past health problems and here is the reason why. Most people get wrapped up in their diagnosis, the symptoms, statistics, etc. and that keeps them stuck where they are. When you get to the root of all physical illness, it always goes back to the power of our thoughts. If people can let go of their diagnosis, that is their first step towards healing.
That’s an interesting theory Tonya. I believe you were helped by a holistic therapist - was he a life coach?
He never gave himself a label. Again, just as diagnosing someone with an illness does not give a true picture of what is really going on, narrowing down his wisdom, intuition, and knowledge to certificates on a wall does not begin to do him justice. At the time that I went to him, which was over twenty years ago, you did not hear about Life Coaches.
True, life coaching is a poplar thing to have right now and the right coach seems to really achieve results. What is the greatest change you have seen in a client?
I don't think one person's challenge is necessarily greater than another’s, what does matter is how a client perceives their challenge.
Absolutely, you can never label a client’s issue as trivial or more important than others.
Yes the greatest change is when a client actually lets go of old beliefs or overcomes society's beliefs. This is when the greatest changes occur, from within, and I have seen this happen with more than one client. Letting go of beliefs is not as easy as reading an article or taking a workshop though. It's a process.
As you have 25 years’ experience what changes have you seen in people?
People are definitely more open to reading about creating a new way of life for themselves, but very few are actually implementing it. There is a lot of talk but not much action.
That’s a shame; do you feel women are becoming more empowered?
I still see women struggling to get into their own power. Again, there is a lot of talk, but if you really want to tap into your own feminine power you have to do the work and you have to do it alone. This is what is scary to most women. By do it alone, I don't mean without a Coach or they can't have a partner or friends, but that it must be all them, all from within. This means no blaming and taking 100% responsibility for the good and the bad.
It is can be daunting – what do you do to help?
I created my Interior Design Life Coaching in order to help others to be able to heal themselves and to design a life that they love. Every change in your life has to come within side of you - from your Interior Guide and what my program does is gets you back in touch with who you really are, your true self, and your value on this planet. I share the information that helped me change my life and broke down esoteric teachings that make people's eyes glaze over into comprehensive, doable steps.
The system is an 8 week program that I broke down into 8 separate Modules that are delivered weekly to your email inbox or you can access them through your special membership area you are given when you purchase the program. Each module contains a recording made by me that is approximately 45 minutes long, along with the written transcript, action guide, and some bonuses such as guided meditations. I am very proud of this program which I put hundreds of hours, thought, and passion into. If someone purchases my program and follows it step by step, their life will begin to change. Again, it's not enough just to listen to the recordings, you must take the actions you are given to do each week.
It sounds fantastic, is it accessible worldwide?
Yes, and I do work with clients worldwide via telephone and/or Skype who live in all different time zones. I have worked with clients across the United States, and in Canada, Poland, New Zealand, and Denmark to date.
Tonya, I know you are insanely busy, thanks for your time.