Article by Phillip Hawkins
We are living in exciting yet turbulent times; subtle yet profound changes are taking place in society and the world as a whole. People are becoming more and more dissatisfied with their quality of life and are looking for new and different ways to deal with the stress related problems of the twenty-first century. We are beginning to realise and accept health and wellbeing are an inside job and the direct result of making informed lifestyle choices. For me, Reiki was the catalyst that started me on this particular journey of self-discovery, but there are many ways and by definition personal development means we must find our own path. This reflects a growing willingness to approach life in a more harmonious and holistic way. Time, energy, and financial resources are being committed worldwide in the exploration and development of alternative ways of living, the tried and tested are being used to complement new ideas in health, happiness, and personal development.
The twentieth century saw tremendous progress in what can be called orthodox medicine. Research and the development of sophisticated technology made it possible for modern medicine to enhance its diagnostic proficiency. These developments encompass a new awareness of “cause and effect” in relation to the way our thinking and the quality of our thoughts directly affect our body and emotional well-being. The threat of infectious diseases has been all but eradicated in the west but their place has been taken by a wide range of illnesses and diseases that are linked directly to our sedentary lifestyles, and the unhealthy life choices we make on a daily basis. Obesity and unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise, substance abuse stress and anxiety are the new kids on the block. Simply prescribing medication to tackle the problem is no longer an option and medical practitioners everywhere are trying to educate people to think about how they live their lives and take personal responsibility for their health and wellbeing.
As public awareness grows many “natural” therapies are gaining credence amongst orthodox practitioners. More and more members of the medical profession are showing a willingness to utilise the knowledge, experience, and expertise of natural holistic practices to assist them in their work. Courses are becoming commonplace where medical professionals are able to learn more about natural therapies and holistic health care themselves. Health care practitioners regardless of their particular discipline are spending more time listening, talking to patients and looking for possible causes of illness and dis-ease. Lifestyle, diet, emotional temperament, and personal values all play a major role in a person’s overall state of health and state of mind. Rather than merely addressing the symptoms of dysfunction and disease they are looking at the person as a “whole” taking into consideration the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of their life.
Adopting a balanced approach to personal development requires the individual to look at all aspects of their lives and not just focus on specific areas of concern. What is perceived as a problem may in fact only be a symptom or effect of an underlying covert cause. Self-respect, self-confidence or self-esteem can’t be looked at in isolation, as part of the “whole” person they form a part of our belief system, values, and perception of who we are. Personal development can play an important part in improving our quality of life but it has its limitations and should never be seen as a substitute for professional help.
If we need help we have a personal responsibility and duty of care to ensure we get it. This will provide a solid foundation for when we begin our personal development journey, an ongoing process that shouldn’t be seen as an easy option or a quick fix. Its beneficial effects can be experienced at any time; we don’t need to arrive at a given point before we start to feel the rewards of our hard work. What we achieve will be determined by our patience and personal commitment, and the belief that we are worth the time and effort to improve our quality of life. Personal development is fundamentally about recognising the ability and power we already possess to control our lives and the ways we surrender that power to people or circumstances. Once we can accept the possibility of personal development, we have already started to change.
Initially we may not understand this “inner need’’, the desire to make major changes in our lives or simply improving oneself. It’s an indication of a shift in perception, a willingness to learn and understand ourselves, to get to know the stranger that lives our life for us. New ideas can only grow in an open and fertile mind that is ready to accept them; a mind closed off can’t recognise anything outside of itself and is oblivious to its own ignorance and limitations. To make any kind of progress, we must have faith in ourselves and resist the fear of the unknown, be prepared to question our established beliefs and new truths in equal measure. Only then can we challenge long-held values and hold them up to the scrutiny of knowledge and understanding.
Before we can move forward we must first understand where we came from, why we believe what we do, and who gave us the values and beliefs we accept as true. Understanding who we are gives us a point of reference and direction. Personal development requires us to look back in time to when our belief system was formed and how our values were established by circumstances and adults who moulded us in our formative years. The life experiences they helped create had a direct influence on our thought process, emotional responses, values, and belief system, in short “who we are”. Teachers can only teach what they themselves have learnt so our education is traditional, handed down from generation to the next. These values, beliefs, and responses established in our “formative years”, are carried into adulthood and our later experiences reflect and support those ideas formed at an early age.
What we believe to be true forms our reality based on the actions we take. To change we must upgrade our thought processes and through them create a new reality for ourselves. Education asks us to release our grip on reality and accept a new way of thinking, personal development asks us to let go of established beliefs that no longer support us, restrict or impede our growth as individuals. From this perspective, our journey of self-discovery not only affects our own future, but also enhances the quality of life of future generations. We have a choice; we can continue as we are with the values and beliefs learnt as children or we can simply take time to re-evaluate them and where necessary use this growing level of awareness to establish a new way to live and enjoy life.
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A Reiki practitioner since 1999, Phillip started teaching Reiki in 2000 and using those skills and abilities he has spent the majority of the last seventeen years working with a wide range of social and educational needs including Autism and ADHD. Working with addicts dependent on alcohol and drugs, people whose lives were extremely violent and abusive, and others who had to deal with severe mental health issues. This has enabled him to work extensively in the private sector, schools, colleges, education and care in the community, the prison service and psychiatric units.
In 2016, Phillip decided to semi-retire from full-time employment to concentrate on developing his career as a published author and the setting up of his Reiki personal development programme at the Chilton Community College.