Barry Durdant-Hollamby is the founder of The Art of Change , a UK based organisation specialising in helping individuals and corporations to effect sustainable, holistic, positive change. He works intuitively on a 1-1 or group basis and also conducts many talks and seminars - all without notes or preparation! Barry is also the author of three books the latest of which is The Male Agenda - a book which seeks to inspire men to create greater life balance and happiness. He is the father of two daughters and lives in the South East of England. Contact

Business, Health and Truth
'Challenging The Monkey' – Part 1
'Challenging The Monkey' – Part 2
Challenging The Monkey – Part 3 -the final part
Change and Fatherhood
Creating Time
Meditation - Change Tool Number 1!
Men and The News
Selling Our Present For An Illusory Future
What is Success?

Men and The News

“ Where is the life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” T. S. Eliot

I would like you to ask yourself some questions. When was the last time you sat through a whole edition of the news and came away feeling really good or more empowered to take positive action? When was the last time that you picked up the newspaper and thought how pleasing those front page stories were? When was the last time you went off to work in the morning having digested the morning news and thought how lucky you were to be living in this wonderful, caring and safe world?

I used to watch the news every day. I used to take newspapers and read daily what a terrible place the world is, what dreadful people there are all around us. It is only in the last couple of years, since I have substantially reduced my intake of news, that I have realised what a negative and numbing effect this part of the media had been having on me.

What is it about us men in particular that makes the news so important? What is it that makes us feel that the news has some vital bearing on our everyday lives? What is it that makes us feel that we are being irresponsible if we do not watch or read the news? Are we afraid that we will somehow lose touch with the ‘real’ world?

The questions I would like us to consider are these. What is the real world? And how much of the news that we watch, listen to or read has any relevance to what is happening in our real world?

I believe that continual updating from the news makes men feel informed and important. The need to feel informed is one thing - the need to feel important is quite a different issue.

At work our importance is there for all to see. But at home, we are just dad, husband, lover. It is possible that this constant connection to important world events gives us a feeling of power again. Discussing wars, stock exchange crashes, deaths, seems to lend weight to our discussions and may help to make us feel more important. But is this because we feel that without these important events to discuss, we would have nothing of significance to say to our partners or family? Is it that we do not consider discussing such things as our feelings or thoughts, interesting enough for anyone else to hear? Is it that we feel empty without the stimulus fed to us through papers and broadcasts, so empty that we feel we have nothing of value to contribute?

The news can also be used as a barrier. A barrier that prevents proper sharing from taking place. Ask some men about their fathers and you will often hear tales of men stuck behind broadsheets, or of faces glued to news bulletins on the television.The news is commonly used as a way of avoiding meaningful contact with the people we most care about under the pretext that domestic problems are unimportant in the bigger world picture.

Better use of the news?

Imagine how you might feel if, for the rest of the week, you reduced your input of news and introduced more positive action such as reading a good book, taking a few walks or sitting down with the whole family to a meal. It may seem like a scary thought to start with. But it’s also possible that you will find yourself enjoying life more.

You may find yourself going off to work in a quite different frame of mind each morning. You may find yourself talking to your partner and children more and enjoying it, instead of cramming in conversations between coming home, dinner or watching television. You may find yourself taking part in a far more rewarding sharing with those people that are closest to you. You may find yourself working through problems instead of avoiding them. You may find yourself feeling generally happier and less stressed.

And yet by doing this, by absorbing less information, you will not suddenly have become an uncaring man. You will not suddenly have become an idiot with no understanding of world problems. You will not suddenly have become a social outcast. Neither will you find that your performance at work is adversely affected.

You may find that changing your relationship to the news in this way may help you to make better use of the news that you do take in, finding ways in which you may really want and be able to help. You might even find it in you to effect one small change in your own life that leads to much greater happiness for someone close to you. Paradoxically, this one alteration in daily life could help you to become an even more responsible human being.

By seeking to understand fully where our responsibilities begin and end we can fulfil our own purposes that much better. As we spend a little less time worrying about what is going on 5,000 miles away with people we’ve never known and are never likely to meet, we may become more aware of what is going on very close to us. Consequently we gain greater awareness of the various problems and joys that our life is bringing us. Turning our back on our own personal problems, replacing them with far more ‘important’ issues such as world news, will never make them go away. It just postpones the time until they will inevitably have to be faced.

It is worth remembering that our own problems and those of our family are the most important problems that exist in our ‘real world’. This is where we have to focus our attention if we are to serve mankind in the best way that we can. We cannot expect to see peace and happiness in the world if we cannot provide it fully for ourselves under our own roof. Our own life is our battlefield and it is up to us to find peace here if we want there to be any reflection of peace around us ‘out there’.

News is important. It has a vital role to play in society. It is the spread of information. If we can use this information effectively, by turning our reactions to bad news into positive action where desirable and detaching where not, then we will all benefit. But, like success, money or the future, we must not let news control us. We need to remind ourselves that fulfilling our potential is not so heavily dependent upon studying the world news as it is dependent upon our own clarity of mind.

Two questions to end on.

1) Do you have enough stimulus in your daily life to replace some of your news input (if not, what does that tell you about your life)?

2) Do you think you could achieve greater clarity in your life if you did reduce, even by a small amount, your intake of news. If you are in any doubt as to the answer to this question, then surely it’s worth trying a change anyway!


1) Consider limiting the amount of negative information you absorb everyday. Try cutting down for a few days on newspapers and news broadcasts.

2) In the time you now have free, introduce something into your life that makes you feel good - perhaps a walk, sport or gardening.

3) Listen more closely to the ‘news’ that those closest to you bring every day - the stories of their lives. Be prepared to share your ‘news’ too. Look to your immediate environment as the ‘real world’ that most needs your attention right now.

Selling Our Present For An Illusory Future

“ no Future, howe’er pleasant!” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How much is man encouraged today to spend his valuable energy thinking about and saving for future needs which may never arise? How much do we as a society allow each other to live in the present and enjoy all that it entails? How much do we as a society encourage hard work and long hours now so that we may have enough to fall back upon in the future? How much do we encourage the pursuit of happiness now as opposed to it being something that we might attain at some future point?

Many of us work on the understanding that we are ‘building up a future’. And yet all around us there are men who demonstrate how frail that understanding may be.

Caste Study - Colin

Colin is a professional man in his fifties who had worked tirelessly all his life in order to provide his family with the funds necessary for private education, upkeep of a beautiful house and income which will enable him and his wife to start enjoying themselves in his retirement.

At least that was the plan. A couple of years ago, almost in sight of the winning post, Colin was diagnosed with cancer. All his planning crumbled around him as he absorbed the truth that he had spent his life in a career that he had stumbled into rather than chosen, in order to earn a reward he may never totally receive.

One of the reasons primitive man may have paid so much attention to the present, and so little to the future, may have been that he understood at some level he could not possibly anticipate what his future needs would be. As such he worked to achieve what was necessary, rather than what might prove to be necessary. It is only recently in terms of world history that so many of us have been in a position to accumulate countless material possessions. ‘Stuff’ which, so often, ends up being a burden and a liability.

Of course there is a balance to strike between the needs of the moment and our future requirements. We must, for instance, in the interests of future generations continue to invest in the safeguarding of our planet when making important global decisions. I am not suggesting that we act only with present moment needs in mind. We could self-destruct very quickly. But I am suggesting that at an individual level many men focus too much of their energy worrying about the future and therefore sometimes miss an opportunity in the present.

How many of us today could honestly say that we are not increasingly governed by fears of future deprivation and hardship?

Many of us put off doing something that would make us happy today because we may need the money tomorrow. We often delay saying something positive to someone today on the basis that there may be a better time. Many of us even suffer financial hardships and bills in the present whilst contributing much needed finances to a financial scheme that may provide us with some income in thirty years time if we are still alive.

The truth is, we have no knowledge as to what may be our needs at any time in the future. We work hard all our lives, putting our own real happiness on hold until retirement, based on the knowledge that then we will be able to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labour. And what happens? Some of us never even make retirement age; others are too incapacitated physically to be able to enjoy retirement; others find the family has long since split up into fragmented, unhappy units; others have put off fun for so long that real enjoyment becomes a mystery.

What does this tell us about putting off happiness and enjoyment until some future date? It tells us that this perception may be misguided.

If we could encourage each other to change our individual and collective view of success and money, we might halt the disintegration of a society that is so in need of change. If we could again realise the value of the extended family and community support network, the value of everyone from our elders to our children, we could once more achieve personal and collective growth and understanding through sharing. If we could redress the balance between our needs in the moment and our needs in the future, maybe we would find ourselves creating a ‘now’ that contained many more satisfactory and rewarding experiences. A ‘now’ that could lead to an even better future than the one we are so busy planning.

As an individual you can start this change from future projection to present moment awareness by asking yourself this question: “In what way am I every day meeting my own desires and needs?” If enough individuals start asking the question, society itself stands a chance of positive change.


1) Start to think about all those things that you’ve been putting off but that you’d really like to do (whether it’s telling your dad you forgive him, climbing Everest or clearing the attic!).

2) If it feels comfortable, try taking small steps towards doing one or two of these things. Whether it’s making a phone call or taking a holiday, if the thought of it makes you feel good, don’t underestimate what good may come from the event itself.

3) Look at how you can redress the balance in your life between living in the future and living in the present moment. Start to address your needs of today as much as your anticipated needs of tomorrow.

Business, Health and Truth

OK so you want to start honouring your truth but your truth this time seems to be telling you to take another three days off work because you’re going down with a chest infection and you’re on antibiotics. Take the time off work and your boss might think you’re a ‘sick-note’, you can’t cut it anymore and that he should let you go. Hmm, powerful fearful stuff.

Go to work whilst ill and on treatment and the chances are you will not be able to perform close to your highest potential, you could screw up future business by making a careless error brought about by your ill-health and your condition could deteriorate leading to more treatment and prolonged absence from work. Hobson’s choice? Let’s go through what it really means.

Living your truth means first, and foremost, listening to the messages that come through the one vehicle that you cannot possibly do without in this life – your body. The body passes on information to us everyday about our real needs – our truth. We have learnt to take things, pills, medication etc to stamp out the messages that the body gives us – colds, headaches, chest pains are seen as annoyances that must be obliterated immediately.

But what if they are messages that could help guide us into achieving what we are really here to achieve. What if they are little golden nuggets sent as clues to help us take perfect action. You may scoff at the idea, but how can you be 100% certain that this is not, at least, a possibility?

When someone comes to me concerned with this question I ask them to go into truth. Ask yourself questions such as ‘Have I been purposefully underperforming?’, ‘Have I been purposefully negative, difficult or argumentative’?, ‘Have I tried to bring my company/colleagues down?’. Then ask yourself more positive questions such as ‘Have I tried my best given the circumstances?’, ‘Have I contributed fairly?’. The answers to these questions will tell you your truth. The chances are that you will find yourself answering that you have done OK – that you have tried to do what you could – you may not be able to judge yourself as having done your best but it is unusual for people to find that they have been working deliberately to hurt or damage their company or colleagues.

Once you get to this place you are in a very powerful position. You see if you have been acting with ‘love’ or truth, the law of this universe which suggests that whatever you give out, more of the same will come back to you, will ensure that your actions must attract back into your life more truth – ie more good stuff. And the thing is, the ‘universe’ already knows how you have been. And when you have been acting in a ‘loving’ or positive way it recognises this and makes it possible for you to receive the support that you will need to continue ‘living your truth’. In this case it may be by making sure that you have the time off work without getting sacked or anyone docking any brownie points off you!

So, when you are placed into a situation where you are doubting whether you have done enough to retain your job, where you are not certain whether you can really take another day off or whether you can really ask for that well-deserved pay rise – ask yourself those questions of truth again. And if you get those positive answers rest assured that the universe already knows those answers – and you will, at some point, reap the rewards of your actions.

'Challenging The Monkey' – Part 1

In the next three articles you'll find out a bit more about who I am for they contain a large part of my own process of change over the last few years.

I should own that these days I have a few radical ideas. My typically English, public school, middle-class upbringing has (despite its best efforts) not managed to prevent me from developing my intuition nor has it kept me away from discovering some universal truths (or weird stuff according to some people such as my old schoolmates). Truths such as: Problems can also be seen as opportunities; what you give out, you tend to get back; what we are thinking today is creating our tomorrow and, one of the biggest of all, everything happens perfectly.

Eight years ago I had a health (throat) problem which was basically my wake up call. Fortunately for me, I chose to wake up. My life since then has been a roller-coaster ride which has lurched from highs of complete trust and faith to lows of self-doubt and anger with the universe for not always providing me with what ‘should’ have been mine.

My book, The Male Agenda, has been a case in point. At the time of my throat condition I was landscape gardening, following eleven years in the music business. I had left music during the recession in the early nineties when I foresaw that I would have to spend too much time in studios to make ends meet at the cost of missing out on time with my wife Winnie and new baby daughter, Anna. The cut off was bizarre – one Friday afternoon I was mixing my last record, the following Monday I was let loose in some young mother’s garden with a strimmer and a mower with instructions to ‘restore it to its former beauty’! As I knew nothing about gardening this was a not inconsiderable challenge, but clearly my guides were watching as I managed to avoid wrecking her garden completely.

I shovelled **** for a couple of years, earned a modest wage and built up a strong client base. I was reliable and polite which people valued. As far as paying the bills went, we scraped by. But then my little monkey started getting restless.

I don’t know about you, but my monkey sits on my left shoulder giving me all sorts of gyp about life. He started complaining about my career. “Oh my god we’ve become a gardener! A gardener. We went to Sevenoaks School for heavens sake, we’ve been a songwriter for Motown, a record producer – we have ‘A’ levels and ‘O’ levels. We should be a Captain of Industry by now. We should be up there alongside our contemporaries who have gone on to such great things. We’re heading for – dare I say it – NOWHERE’SVILLE. We have to take action and we have to take it now.”

Well, who was I to argue.

And so I moved into landscaping. I’ve always been creative and Winnie’s an artist….. Seemed obvious really. Well done, Monkey.

I got most of the jobs that I went for. Before long I was employing people. And, as the jobs grew so did the pressure. The funny thing was, I was earning no more than I had been when I was just shovelling smelly stuff. Still, Monkey was happier because now I was becoming someone.

We had by now had our second child, Sophie, and there was even greater pressure on Winnie who was stuck at home with a four year old and an 18month old. Looking back I cringe at how I could have been dumb enough to allow her to take on the lion’s share of such an enormous job. But I just didn’t know then. No-one had warned us of the tedium experienced by a mother at home alone all day with two young children. She longed for adult company. She longed for support. She longed for me to share the job. And I longed to share it too but I couldn’t see how I could keep a roof over our heads and work any less time than I already was.

Which is clearly why I had to manifest my throat problem. It had been getting sore for a while, then a lump appeared – then I noticed I was getting hoarse by about the middle of every morning. Winnie had been getting more and more interested in holistic lifestyles and alternative medicines and every description we read in books pointed somewhat ominously to the big C. In spite of this, I resisted going down the medical route – a voice inside me kept saying “trust, trust”.

During this period we learnt to meditate. For those of you who do this simple discipline, there is no need for me to tell you how important meditation has been in my process of change. It has been my rock. No, it hasn’t changed my life and neither has it been the answer to all my problems; but it has helped me to change my life and it has helped me to access strength and clarity that I never knew I had. It has been like a doorway through to a room full of magic. I’ve had to walk through the doorway, I’ve had to learn and choose to use the magic. And I have. And all I can say is that if you’re one of those people who doesn’t meditate regularly and you’re finding yourself struggling at all with life – give it a try!

My throat continued to cause concern. The pain increased to the extent that I booked a session with a healer (a prospect that scared the living daylights out of the monkey). A few days before this session, Winnie and I went to the local library and got out about a dozen books on alternative health. One night I found her in our bedroom swinging a crystal. Her explanation was that she was dowsing. Not only that, but she was apparently getting answers and that was starting to scare her!

I had heard of dowsing through a couple of wonderful ‘heavies’ that I used for doing groundwork – they had showed me how to massacre a wire coat hanger and turn it into an extraordinary device for locating water pipes and electricity cables. And it had worked. When I had asked them to explain how it worked the reply came back something like “well I dunno, yer just think about wot yer wanna find and it shows yer.” Although Winnie was using a different tool, it was the same idea. And then she told me that you could dowse for remedies and suggested that I try it for my throat… to be continued next month

'Challenging The Monkey' – Part 2

Three and a half hours later I emerged from behind the pile of library books, having found out that one contained a list of remedies that would apparently be useful. Over 1000 remedies (flower essences) to be precise. To a novice dowser this was something of a nightmare! Eventually I narrowed it down to two remedies. One to be taken the next day, the second “Rescue Remedy”, to be taken two days later. I couldn’t exactly work out the meaning of the first remedy at the time, but the second seemed to be for shock.

A day after taking the first remedy the pain escalated. Two days after taking it, the pain and the lump disappeared. I was in shock. I could have done with an IV drip for Rescue Remedy. The hoarseness gradually improved and cleared up within a few weeks. I returned to my landscaping questioning whether I was meant to be doing something with this experience.

People started coming to me for advice on their well-being. I wasn’t advertising – this was just through friends and family who had known about my throat. Within 6 months Winnie and I had helped over 90 people and I had started writing my first book “The Truth about Illness,Unhappiness & Stress?” I sat down at the computer with no idea what I was about to write and yet the words just flowed out. Winnie would read each section and ask jokingly “who’s writing this?” She decided she would take on the task of editing my stream of consciousness.

We soon decided to throw caution to the wind. I chucked in the landscaping, we sold up our house and threw ourselves into, well, just being together as a family. We would help anyone who came to us (but we would never advertise). Oh, and just to challenge the monkey beyond all reason, we were also guided not to charge anyone for one-to-one work.

That was, for me, the hardest one to get my head round.

I mean, there we were living in the expensive South East, with two young children and with only about £15,000 in the world to live on (about 12 months living expenses). What our respective families and close friends thought of us we could not imagine. But in a way it didn’t matter – we knew we had to go for it. Every time I read anything about “creating your own reality” I felt like I knew it already to be my truth. And yet we couldn’t really find anyone outside of communities such as Findhorn actually doing it.

And that’s how we began. People, mainly women, started to see me regularly. I was plunged very quickly into the world of serious illness by various wonderful ‘teachers’; cancer sufferers who came to me to looking for guidance. In a very short space of time I found myself sharing ideas and stories which seemed to help inspire these women to achieve greater peace and happiness.

What had started as a little bit of healing and remedy work soon turned totally into a process of listening and guiding through my intuition. From cancer I found myself working with relationship, financial, emotional and all manner of health issues. And soon the partners and friends of these women started to come. And as my work with men increased, so I found myself hearing the same story time and again from men torn apart by the demands of the work-place and family.

I soon found myself writing about men. I wrote about time, success, meditation, sex, work, addiction, the news and even death. I wanted to get any men who would listen and who were not entirely happy with life into challenging their own inherited belief systems. I wanted to share stories that would help them to realise that they were not alone in their struggle. After a couple of years I found myself with a manuscript. Now what?

Old record company monkey wanted me to get it ‘out there’ immediately. My inner wise old man rejected this proposal out of hand. “Wait. Trust. Be patient. Help will come”.

Well I was getting fed up with waiting. Trouble was I also knew that this guidance was worth trusting. We had been operating for 4 years by this time without charging and although donations had been minimal, somehow the money had come in to support us without ever leaving us wanting.

So I waited. One day a member of my men’s group told me about a workshop in London to be given by an Australian called Steve Biddulph. He was a successful author and leader in the worldwide men’s movement. Although I had never gone to a workshop in my life or read any of his books, I felt drawn to attending. And so I booked a place…

The workshop was crammed with about 70 men and women. At the morning interval Steve came over to our group and asked where we were from. When we answered “Forest Row” he told us he was coming over to England with his family for a year in the near future to write a book with his wife and he was going to be living in…… Forest Row.

But it got better than that. During the afternoon break I asked Steve where exactly he was going to be moving to. The answer? Next door but one to my house. One of the leaders in the worldwide men’s movement was moving halfway across the world to land on my doorstep. There are times when you know you are right in the zone…

Challenging The Monkey – Part 3 -the final part

Our family really hit it off with Steve Biddulph’s family – our girls formed really good friendships with Steve and Shaaron’s children and within a couple of weeks Steve had read the manuscript of The Male Agenda and offered to help me make it into a much better book.

He taught me how to bring life into it and I shall be forever grateful to his literary expertise and care. We agreed to differ on a few things – he felt too much of the book applied to women as well – but the truth in my consulting room year after year was showing me that much of what applies to men does apply to women as well. Men are not from Mars! My feeling is that this whole Venus/Mars concept can be hugely disempowering as individuals can use it as a ‘get-out’ clause when challenged to make changes. “Oh but I can’t do anything about how I am – you see I’m a bloke and us blokes come from a different planet to women”.

The resulting manuscript was ready. I sent it off to the only literary agent I knew and Steve said it was OK to mention his name. With this sort of help flying into my world I had no doubt that the agent would ring me immediately with an offer to sign me for loads of dosh. It was all so meant to be.

But it didn’t quite work out like that.

What came back was the most stinging, personal rejection letter that even my time in the music business had not entirely prepared me for. The agent raged at me. How could I dare write about such subjects in this way.

I was shocked. I showed Steve the letter later that day. His reaction? “You’ve probably got the equivalent of a hit record there Barry! You’ve touched his buttons”. Hmmm. I hadn’t quite seen it like that.

Reassuring though Steve was, I felt I needed time away from my baby. I put him to sleep for the winter, save one or two manuscripts that had gone out to friends. Even though we thought we needed the money that a publishing deal might bring, I resisted the monkey’s desire to take more action.

During that winter, encouragement, gratitude and support came back from the men and women that were reading those initial manuscripts. The following spring I unwrapped my baby again and took a whole new look at him. He was beautiful. Yes there were things that I could change to soften him a bit, but basically my book was saying something that I knew needed to be said.

There was still no clarity as to how this book would get out there. Then, one morning I woke at about 5.30am. I looked across at my youngest daughter who was still sharing a bedroom with us. She looked so beautiful, so innocent, so at peace. And that’s when it hit me. I hadn’t written anything on the subject that was probably closest to my heart. Being a father.

I crept out of the bedroom and into my office. I knew what I wanted to write. It was quite simple. The one thing I really wanted to get through to readers was the thing that had been most significant in my own life in recent years. That it is who you are 365 days a year that most profoundly influences our children. I knew my girls were benefitting enormously from now having a mum and dad that were more relaxed, that were having fun (how important is that to a kid?) and were supporting each other far more equally. And I knew that if our girls saw us enjoying adult life then they would be far more likely to embrace approaching adulthood with joy and anticipation. I finished the chapter in a matter of days.

The next morning I received a phone call from a relative who previously had experienced major financial deprivation. She had just received an inheritance and wanted to help me to get the book printed! A more unlikely financial source I could never have predicted! It was at that point that I knew the book really was complete.

Since then, this incredibly organic process has continued. Support has continued to come from the most amazing sources. A series of ‘coincidences’(?!) led to Robert Holden, founder of the Happiness Project and author of several successful self-help books, enthusing about the finished manuscript. Dr William Bloom, trustee of Findhorn for many years and successful author, also lent the book his full support. When finished copies eventually rolled off the presses last summer, the next stage of my baby’s life had already begun – it was learning to walk and speak for itself!

We did no advertising. We sent out press releases to major papers and magazines but received no interest. Well let’s face it, to these people we were nothing. Copies just went through word of mouth. This time, unlike my music business days, there would be no hype. If this book had a journey to travel, I wanted it to do it of its own accord. My monkey? Don’t ask what my monkey wanted.

And here I am over a year later and the momentum is clearly building. This gentle process has taken my little baby across Europe, America, Australia and the Far East. This summer he was selected for distribution to all of the UK prison libraries. We now have information distributing to all national libraries (please feel free to go and ask your local library to order a copy!) and are hopeful that they will also follow suit. And, in spite of us not being a big publisher, three magazines all expressed interest at much the same time this autumn, one of which of course was The Mother Magazine. And one of the surprising things has been that it has been women who have been particularly active in spreading the word about the book – something I had not anticipated when writing it!

When I started writing this article I thought I would tell you all about the book and its contents – you know try to sell it a bit to you. But this came out instead.

My monkey’s not at all happy with me…

Change and Fatherhood

Our children come from us but they are not ours to control, they have their own lives to lead, their own mistakes to learn from and their own challenges to overcome. We can guide them but we cannot change them and the examples we set are one of the most powerful ways of guiding them.

Childhood is a time when children are learning and acquiring the tools that will shape their adult lives. If we are really concerned as to how good a job we are doing with our children – then I believe we should ask ourselves how good is the example we are setting? Are they thinking wow! I cannot wait to be grown-up, grown ups have a great time?’.

For instance how many of us are demonstrating to our children that time is something over which adults have no control? That when you grow up you always have to be rushing everywhere, grabbing five minutes with your children in between everything else? Each time a child witnesses this it reinforces in them the belief that they too will struggle for time when they grow up. More importantly, perhaps, they measure their own sense of self-worth against our attitudes to them. If we have so little time available for them, what conclusions will they reach about their own value in the world?

And what about love? If you are in a relationship, are you able to demonstrate to your children that you respect your partner, that you share openly and listen attentively? What messages are you giving the children in your life about the nature of adult relationships? That they are valuable and joyful parts of life that have to be worked at - or that they are problematical things which warrant little time or discussion, and which certainly feature lower down the list of priorities than work and money?

Fun is another commodity in children’s lives that adults all too often forget about. Do the children around you see you as someone who takes their fun seriously and creates regular spaces for it in life? What effect will it have on them if they start to believe that being a grownup seems to imply having little or no fun?

Our children are also learning about the power of money from us. What do they observe in you? Someone who is comfortable with and open about the subject of money - however much or little you may have?

And what of work? Do your children see a father going off to work who loves what he does (without being addicted to it) and who is able to return in the evening being not only able to share what has happened to him but also being able to listen to what his children and partner have done?

If I could get just one point across to men about fathering/mentoring children it would be this. It is who you are, your daily example, that affects children more than anything else you can ever teach them. It is not who you are for the two weeks holiday once every fifty two weeks that makes the difference.

If you want to help raise happy, balanced children, seek to become a happier, more balanced person. All the books, all the theories - and even all your material success - they mean nothing to children. What means everything to them is who you are, how you are and what you can do with them.”

Try the Following:-

1) Try to see the world through a child’s eyes. Children aren’t always after results, they are often just hungry for time and attention. Drop your personal needs to meet goals and value the time you have to give as much as the ‘success’ of any activity you may be involved in with a child.

2) Check what you may be projecting onto the children in your life. Are you doing things with them that meet their needs or yours?

3) Children have their own lives to lead. Let them live them – don’t be tempted into trying to make everything alright for them.

Meditation - Change Tool Number 1!

I’m going to focus on a tool that has helped me to change my life. It hasn’t changed my life itself, but it has given me the clarity and strength to turn stuck life patterns on their heads. It’s something that many men reject without even trying just because it’s still not considered macho. It is the tool of meditation.

Meditation is very misunderstood still in the West. It’s not complicated, it doesn’t have to involve saris or incense sticks (although it can if that’s what turns you on!) and it is not difficult to do (contrary to popular opinion). You can’t do it badly, but you can not do it.

Everyone, from 5 yr olds to 90 yr olds, from the terminally ill to stressed executives, can benefit from this simple discipline. For many people who find themselves suffering in any way from physical or mental imbalances, meditation can become a source of peace and inspiration . It doesn’t replace conventional treatment but it can enhance the effectiveness of all treatments. For people wanting to achieve closer to their highest potential and really experience change, it is I believe the single most important tool you can use.

Why? What is that meditation helps us to achieve and how does it do it?

Imagine life is like a lake (sorry guys – bear with this one a minute). All day, every day we are doing things – answering the phone, watching t.v., conducting meetings, paying bills, rushing from one appointment to the next etc. All the time we are in ‘doing’ mode the water in our lake is getting choppier and choppier and it is impossible to see anything under the surface. Just think, how often do you spend any time during your alert, wakeful state just being?

Periods of time spent in silence taken during the day allow the water in our lake to still. They allow us to build up an inner communication with ourselves which we never normally have. They allow us to find answers inside ourselves that we always believed were outside of us, not inside. This they do because during these restful, alert periods of silence we are listening to the greatest guide we will ever have in life – our Self.

Once we start to take regular periods of time out of our hectic schedules, the water in our lake starts to still. We can see under the surface and locate the treasure that hides beneath – the treasure that in life relates to our ability to find the solutions to problems that we previously believed ourselves powerless to deal with.

We spend so much time doing that we have forgotten how to be and we have drifted further away from our intuition. And yet the results that can be achieved from getting back in touch with our inner guidance can be phenomenal. If we can learn to build a bridge between our busy and powerful intellects and our intuition we could become rich indeed.

So experiment with it – be bold and take the plunge. Meditation may not in itself provide the answer to all your life’s problems – but I have no doubt it will help you to find and create solutions that you might previously have missed.

What is Success?

It is a man’s instinct, passed down through generations, to gain the trophies and prey that society considers of value. Our male ancestors would come back from their outings with the very things that they and their dependents needed at that time. This may have been food or wood or animal skins for clothing. They were guided by the their needs of the moment and not derailed by thoughts of what they might need at some distant point in the future. Their success was measured in the moment.

Today, success and recognition are usually measured in financial terms. Of course there are plenty of people who are successful who do not have large sums of money, but for most men in our consumer-orientated society, acquiring material wealth is a guaranteed way of being viewed as successful, of achieving recognition. Money has therefore become a completely acceptable and worthy prey to hunt. For many of us it is the only worthy prey today.

It is no surprise then that we have found ourselves going out on a daily basis, hunting something that we can never entirely capture, that could escape from us at any time in the future without warning, and which by itself offers no form of sustenance or physical gratification.

Man’s success today is often seen in the size of his mortgage, the cars he can run, the private schools in which he can educate his children, the clothes he can buy, the golf club he belongs to. The material list is endless. Wouldn’t it be good if his success were viewed in terms of his own feelings of happiness and fulfilment in addition to these material gains?

There is nothing wrong with wealth and power. Great things can be achieved with them; great enjoyment can be had as a result of having them. But I question whether they can benefit us fully if we have sacrificed our happiness, health or peace of mind to get them. We need to look for balance between material wealth and mental and physical well-being – they do not need to be mutually exclusive.

We strive for success, but why? What are we going to do with it if we ever feel we’ve got it? Ask yourself that question before you set off on the next rung of the career ladder? What are you doing? Something you really want to, or something that you feel you have to or should? Why are you doing it? Because it brings you great satisfaction at both a mental/emotional and physical/material level, or purely because it pays the bills? Who are you doing it all for? You or everybody else? And if you really want to help everybody else, is it not possible that you might do this best by becoming clearer yourself in what your definition of success really is?

Creating Time

Ask most men what they would like more of and if the answer isn’t sex or money - it will be time. None of us seems to have enough. And it also seems that no-one is responsible for this. It is just how the world is. It is just how things are. It is just how things must be.

“Sorry darling, I’ve got to be here for a meeting”, “I must dash, Mum, doctor’s appointment”, “Sorry kids no time to play, got to check my e-mail”. Where will it end? As it is we deprive ourselves of all sorts of vital daily things because of our need to hurry. Love, food, sleep, conversation - all things that we curtail or postpone or cancel because of our need to meet deadlines. And yet who are we meeting these deadlines for? The answers come back thick and fast. My boss, my colleagues, my partner. When are we going to start meeting deadlines that we set?

Are we really listening to our own needs often enough? Do we really need to live life at this breakneck speed all the time, or is it purely habit? How many of us for instance find that we work and work and work leading up to our holiday, only to find that when we finally switch off and slow down we have developed flu, if not something worse? How many of us find that when we ask the children to do something for us, we expect them to do it for us right this minute, even though they may be involved in some other game or activity?

So manic have we become that our whole life tends to revolve around schedules. Schedules that very often we are merely playing a part in rather than taking hold of and saying “Hey, hang on a second, this is my life, I want to have a say in what happens and when”. We may have come so far down this path, that most of us no longer realise that we have any say in how our time is filled.

I would suggest that nothing could be further from the truth.

Our time is our own. Our life is our own. Only we ourselves can make our decisions. Believe it or not, we have chosen our schedules as they exist at the moment and only we can choose to change them.

If you are the sort of man who is frequently hurrying and never seems to have enough time for anything, then now is the time to consider change. Change your approach to yourself, start taking your own needs and desires more seriously and you may find that you begin to abandon activities which no longer fit in with who you now wish to be. You may well find yourself with more time on your hands. The more time you spend listening to your own requirements, the more time you will have to fulfil them. Carry on hurrying from place to place, from meeting to meeting, from TV programme to TV programme and you will find you will never have enough time to do all the things that you really want.

There is a saying in the financial world that you have to ‘speculate to accumulate’. The same is true of time. If you spend more time listening to your own needs, you are likely to accumulate more time to do these things. There is no reason to be proud of the fact that we are always busy. We could all fill our time permanently. Part of the reward that we may receive from this hectic activity is that it makes us feel important, it makes us feel wanted. Having to be somewhere all the time not only gives us a feeling of importance and value in society, but it also gives us ‘valid’ reasons as to why we cannot attend to this family matter or that relationship problem. Time spent at work becomes in particular a fact of life which apparently can’t be controlled. We have become pawns in a game that, judging by the state of some men today, we are not sure we even enjoy playing that much.

The key question is not how much of my time do I fill every day, but how much of my time do I fill doing what I love?

Here we are often complaining of not having enough time, only to find that we spend much of our time doing things that we don’t really enjoy. People talk about quality time as if time itself were the problem. It is not. And it never can be. The conditioning that tells us to fill every available minute is the problem and that can only change if we choose to change it. No amount of complaining about the lack of time will make one bit of difference. We have to change our understanding of our relationship to time if we are to start making the best use of the time that we have.

Changing our view of time can have extraordinary effects upon our lives. If we can start to change from feeling we have to get things done as quickly as possible to wanting to do something that is as good as we could do, we will find that our end result is that much better and consequently our self-esteem that much higher. For instance, explaining to a client that we think their deadline is going to jeopardise the end result can only make us feel better about ourselves, even if we end up losing that job. This generally doesn’t happen. Worthwhile businesses would far rather employ conscientious people with high standards.

It is the feeling that we have somehow achieved something good that is so important in our development as men. Getting things done quickly is unlikely to engender the same positive feeling. It is perhaps through this greater understanding of our relationship to time that we could begin to contribute so much more to improving the environment that we live in.

©2008 Barry Durdant-Hollamby

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