Tag Archives: global consciousness

A Conversation on Uncertainty

We had a wonderful, deep and honest conversation on the topic of uncertainty on Wednesday night. The Conservatory is the perfect place with an intimate feel about it.
Our conversation ranged far and wide from talking to the moon and finding solace from the moon and from nature we realised that we need to accept uncertainty as part of life. We felt that religion may help some people deal with uncertainty by giving them something they could trust in and a feeling of something greater than themselves. Vicky said it is best to “go with the flow and accept that we are just a little wave on the ocean”. One group had looked back to a time many years ago when they faced uncertainty and dealt with it and looked at what they had learnt. Richard remembered that at a difficult time of uncertainty in his career keeping up a dialogue with everyone helped. Someone said that she had learnt that uncertainty “bears a gift”. Somebody else said “We can learn to thrive on uncertainty. Feel it, allow it and surrender. See what your gut feels”. We also realised that everyone is different in their reactions to uncertainty as for some it may trigger fear and stop them progressing whilst others feel the fear and uncertainty but don’t let it hold them back.

2019 and Beyond – How can I be my best self?

Thank you to all those who braved the snow to come to ConsciousCafe Geneva last night. We broke a record – one person had to get the train home to Bern afterwards! Our discussions on “2019 and Beyond – How can I be my best self?” were all about our values. It was fascinating that people prioritised very different values, and it helped with my life lessons on judgement to realise why people might not act according to MY expectations sometimes! Why are our values so important, we asked? Because they are our life guide and compass. They show us the way. They make us who we are. They are so important than when we live or work in conflict with them we can become ill, physically and mentally. Do we all live to our values? Even when challenged? We wondered, if asked, would your family and closest friends be able to say what your main values are? After very engaging discussions we ended by examining just ONE value we would like to strengthen in ourselves and a brief closing meditation focused on feeling, being and exuding that value as we went out into the world. Conversation at ConsciousCafe Geneva takes place at small tables, which we mix up several times, so the conversations constantly change and you meet new, like-minded people. For many reasons there always seems to be a very warm atmosphere and we all leave uplifted. It’s about the people contact I think, connecting on a deeper level than usual. And it’s really very beautiful! Join us sometime.

Becoming Homeless in an Age of Plenty


Survival is the most basic of human needs. Mikkel Juel Iversen is a film producer who runs a remarkable charity project, UnderOneSky which aims to support the homeless.  He facilitated a very moving discussion at ConsciousCafe in London which was not just about being homeless but also about being human.

There are an estimated 8,000 people sleeping rough in London annually and many more who have no home but sleep as and where a friend or family can offer a bed. 85% of rough sleepers are men. And, in 2016, 270,000 people had a homelessness related case processed by their local council. For many of us, losing our home might be just one month and one pay-packet away.

90% of people who are sleeping rough have some form of mental health issue – including disorders which many of us will be familiar with such as depression, bi-polar or addiction. Aside from that, the message of the evening which came through loud and clear is that all of us are human beings. Homeless people are not ‘the other’. They are no different from any of us and are in that situation because of many different reasons which our society has been unable to help them with.

One of the group shared how she always carries some food – often fruit – to offer a homeless person when she is out and about. She likes to engage with people and will often speak with them. She might start the conversation by asking how they are, and then if they feel inclined to talk she will explore how they found themselves on the street and how they feel about that. One time she suggested a woman make contact with her father whom she had not seen for many years.  Passing by a few weeks later, the woman told her she had been in touch with him and they were going to meet.

Sometimes a remark or a smile, nod or wink from a passing stranger can make all the different to a homeless person’s day.

Mikkel reminded us that everyone is an individual. Some days we want to talk to people and other days we don’t and so it is with all of us.  If we walk with love, compassion and empathy, that is what we are bringing to the situation. If what we offer is not welcome, it is not about us.

Another group member shared that she had been homeless in her life. ‘It’s important for people who are homeless to know that they are not invisible’ she said.

Some of the people living on the streets have struggled with  living in ‘chaotic’ households since they were very young. Some of them feel safer on the streets than in the homes they come from or in hostels where there can be no privacy and much drug-taking, drunkenness and abuse. It can be very hard for them to develop resilience and as soon as their lives improve a little, sometimes they self-destruct. Some people have had so much trauma in their lives, they simply can’t function.

Mikkel said that once a person becomes accustomed to sleeping rough, they develop a completely different set of survival skills to protect themselves.  It is important not to measure people in that situation by the same yardstick that we might make judgments about our neighbours.

The most important thing to remember when engaging with people on the streets is to only do what feels right to us. We too need to be in touch with our gut instincts.

People who are homeless are on their own life journey in the same way that the rest of us are.  When we meet them, we hold up a mirror very close to ourselves.  This is an opportunity for each of us to reflect on how we are feeling when we engage or do not engage with strangers on the streets. We can question why we feel this way and what do we need to deal with in ourselves?

Living on the streets changes a person and all of us have to learn to let go of judgment.

This was such a powerful discussion with everyone contributing and listening.  There was so much to reflect on and we continued talking over drinks afterwards. Each one of us left the evening feeling much more thoughtful and those of us who had not done so before resolved to take the first steps towards beginning to engage with people on the streets ‘when it feels right’.


Huge thanks to Mikkel for giving so generously of his time and for facilitating the discussion so gently. He started UnderOneSky six years ago as an initiative to offer support to homeless people sleeping rough particularly in winter when it is cold.  His teams go out on the streets in groups with parcels containing a number of items including a small gift voucher which enables people to purchase everyday things which they might be acutely in need of.

If you would like to learn more and donate, please go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/2017-18-winter-support-for-london-s-homeless#/

If you would like to take part in the work of UnderOneSky or observe what is going on, you are welcome to join the Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/432122693577153/ 








A Very Thought-Provoking London Discussion on Self-Love

Tamara Alferoff facilitated a memorable discussion at ConsciousCafe on the topic of Self-Love, on a freezing cold snowy night in London, at the end of February.

She started by telling us that when she googled the words ‘self-love’, there were 54 million results for it. Such a huge number.

Why are so many people wanting to explore the meaning of self-love at this time?

Tamara posed a number of ideas which we explored together.

She suggested that society’s obsession with the topic reflects back to us what is happening in our Western world today.  Many people no longer experience the loving stability of their family as in previous times. The women’s movement has raised womens’ self-esteem but men now feel destabilised. Elderly people no longer feel part of the family unit while too many children are in care. Western society has lost its respect for mothering and for the importance of nurturing. Even people in solid relationships feel unworthy, not good enough in some way.

In addition we have few leaders and role-models in all walks of life who we respect. We live in a time of great change and upheaval and comfort ourselves with shallow gossip from the media. Positive politics does not seem to exist.

The topic of self-love in magazines focuses on pampering ourselves in spas with wine and selfies. But is that what we mean by self-love? Is it what we really want or need?

Where is the mirror that mirrors back to us that we are worthy, good human beings?

The group were fascinated by the deep connection of the ideas around self-love and its alignment with the changing social values in our contemporary Western society. It left us all with many important questions to reflect on.

After this powerful introduction, the group began to share their ideas and their wisdom.  There were divergent viewpoints about the meaning of self-love.  Does a lack of self-love illuminate our shadow? How do we love people and their shadows? Perhaps the real challenge with self-love is to find our own shadow, meet it and integrate it?

Is our lack of self-love also caused by a lack of meaning in our lives? Does too much material wealth cause people to lose their humanity and compassion and respect for themselves?  Do we struggle with self-love when we do not have a powerful purpose in our lives to get us out of bed in the morning?

Perhaps the key to self-love is being totally present with ourselves on all occasions even though that is not always possible to achieve.

After much more discussion and exploration, we ended the evening with one of the participants sharing Elizabeth Jennings’ poem Delay and a gorgeous song which Tamara had downloaded for us: I Love Myself the Way I Am  (Jai, Alice Altink)

Tamara’s parting gift was this lovely quote from a friend:

Self-love is the acceptance of who I am in the given moments. This means both times I see things I like about myself and those times when I am not a big fan.

Huge thanks to Tamara for her deep reflection and sharing on this powerful topic and to everyone who contributed to this memorable evening.

Notes from ConsciousCafe Skipton

ConsciousCafe Skipton
As we veer towards the end of January, we are sharing this post from our Skipton group Leader Gina Lazenby, written on Blue Monday earlier this month. Gina shares her thoughts, insights and key life events from the last few years.
Today is Blue Monday ….  apparently – the most depressing day of the year. Something to do with a tenuous formula for money spent at Christmas, the number of long dark days endured and returning to work in the new year. Are you feeling blue? 
Funnily enough, for the first time in what feels like many many months, I am feeling a bit perkier and upbeat. It is sunny here in Yorkshire and the days are getting slightly longer. But, I have to say, it has been a long haul getting here! 
Four years ago I made a decision to make a MAJOR life shift. In January 2014, and after almost a decade of significant overseas travel, with many many a long trip to Australia and California, I decided to have ONE home in the UK, and no longer flit from one to the other, moving stuff between my beloved Yorkshire hilltop retreat home and my city base of 25 years in London where I had held many wonderful community gatherings. Both so different…. but neither one being just the right place anymore. 
My stated quest was to start a new NEXT PHASE in my life and I knew that I needed a different container to support that. So, a decision was made to move out of both. 
It took two very long years and I finally moved out in November 2015. Many folks have been wondering what I’ve been up to since then. I have to say, life change does take time….it is more of a steady process of emergence and becoming, unlike a quick wardrobe makeover or a new outfit. And it took MUCH longer than I expected. It always does doesn’t it?! 
My indoor conservatory – the ornament shelf from London repurposed and now holding my collection of plants that I’ve grown from scratch. Very good feng shui – I have been growing like my plants !!

For the last two years, since leaving my beloved London house, I have been setting up new foundations for myself. I am not even crystal-clear about what happens next but as Kevin Costner famously said “if you build it they will come”

So having set down temporary roots in Skipton town, a few minutes from the Healthy Home in the nearby hills, I ended up buying a small sweet house and what started as a bit of a makeover and a little extension ….  became a much bigger project that took well over a year and has only just been completed. 

Now that this new container is done, I am currently focusing on the details of creating order, one of life’s essential support systems. Finding a place for everything and everything in its place. Oh the joy of being efficient and finding everything! 

One of the initiatives I did find some time for in my year-long construction project was to launch Conscious Cafe in Skipton. Judy Piatkus set this up in London six years ago and I went to many of her programs. She encouraged me to find my own community of kindred spirits wanting to have meaningful conversations and connection up here in the Dales. Tomorrow night will be our seventh event! 
We have had three café evenings at Hetties in Skipton talking about caring, career change and happiness, a Christmas supper evening at my Healthy Home in Skipton town taking time to review our past year, and then two Movie evenings watching documentaries “A Quest for Meaning” and Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything”. And tomorrow night, we are back at Hetties cafe starting the new year with a conversation about “Making a Fresh Start”. It is a subject very close to my heart. If you are within driving distance then do join us. The next date for Conscious Café Skipton is February 12th.

My diary is quite spacious at the moment and I am relishing having a long breather away from the fray …. but I can feel momentum gathering in the ether (like the faint rumble of stampeding hooves in the far distance). Let’s see how this coming year unfolds. 

I will be in San Francisco in February for Wisdom 2.0, again, a place where I truly find my tribe. It is my sixth time attending and I’m taking colleagues with me from London, Iceland, Germany and Sydney. Four of us have been working on a program leveraging the power and potency of reinvention. It is called “From Warrior to Warrior – How to Reinvent Yourself at Any Age and Take on the World”. We are looking to arrange events and opportunities to speak while we are in San Francisco and California in February 20-28th. I am also hoping to have a chance to host a Women’s Gathering there too. Do get in touch if you have suggestions. Thank you. Keep in touch via the  Worrier to Warrior Facebook page.

Much of my life force in 2016 (just before the building mayhem took over my life) went into producing a series of The Rise of the Feminine radio programmes. A new series will be back this year …. so many of the conversations that I had 18 months ago are just now gathering real interest. 


Finally, I want to share the news of my mentor, spiritual grandmother and friend Dadi Janki. She is 102 this month. Unbelievable, especially as she is still working (Head of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University).  Apparently she’s just been to Southern India to open a new retreat centre and has been speaking to 500 people. We are expecting her in London in April…… so that is exciting.  And the community of women who we recognised in the 100 Women of Spirit initiative to honour Dadi’s 100 years, continues to gather pace. We are creating an event on June 16th to support young women and share the wisdom of older women with Millennials  and vice versa! Let me know if you want an invite or know a young woman.

What are they all waiting for??!
PS You might find this image amusing.  I noticed a field full of sheep this morning … all of them standing looking in one direction and none of them eating grass, very spooky. I just had to get out of my car and take a picture. Definitely a good image for a caption competition. Any ideas?
Love & Light
Gina Lazenby

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“I meet old friends, make new friends and feel positively challenged and uplifted.“

Nick Williams
Author of 10 books, including The Work We Were Born To Do

“(ConsciousCafe events) have been balm and succour to me, understanding the role of consciousness in my day-to-day life; and they have opened me up to conversations I didn’t think possible between sane, let alone ‘successful’ people. They have had a disproportionate impact on my life.”

Ellie B, Entrepreneur

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