Tag Archives: David Whyte

In Praise Of The Ebb Before The Flow

If you are lucky, a wise person might have told you that life is all about ebb and flow.

We live in a world where we can fool ourselves into thinking that we can flow all the time, anywhere, anyhow, regardless of how you’re physically or emotionally feeling; or that we “are allowed to stop just long enough to get back on the treadmill of extreme productivity”.

We are made to feel that if we need to stop, we’re ineffective, useless, worthless.

We can take coffee, sugar, energy drinks, ginkyo biloba, caffeine, guarena, water, low GI foods, iron supplements, any supplement, get exercise, get massages, rebalance your chakras…to keep going, to fill us up with fake fuel and trick our minds and bodies into carrying on.

When did we lose our respect for pulling back and resting?

Life on this planet is largely dictated by the cycles of the seasons, moon and tides – an ebb and flow, not an unending summer – but even nature would prefer an unending summer, to continuously grow and reproduce.

When I motorbiked across Europe and into Austria to be with family in August 2013, one of our last stop-offs was at my sister-in-law’s beautiful farmhouse in the countryside outside Vienna.  Our brother-in-law asked us to help him pick the plum trees from a neighbouring farmer’s land because the farmer wasn’t looking to harvest them and they would otherwise go to waste.

Plum picking in Austria. Yes, that is an Elder Scrolls Online hoodie - bring it on!

Plum picking in Austria.
Yes, that is an Elder Scrolls Online hoodie – *I got there first!*

The summer of 2013 was very hot and long, and these plum trees were in the full sun all day, all through the season; consequently, the four trees were groaning under the weight of globular, soft and extra-sun-sweetened plums.

One tree had no cover from the sun whatsoever, no shade cast by the nearby buildings to hide in, so it sat in 360 degrees of sunshine all through that summer.  And it showed – the branches were heavy with plums…so heavy that the tree broke in half!  It fractured right down the trunk under the sticky sweet masses it had produced!

We got to this tree and unburdened its fruits – all 75kg of it from just the one tree! – but it was too late, the tree was dying a quick death in the continuing scorching sun, its life purpose entirely fulfilled.

The other trees that had shade, amongst themselves and from the buildings at the right angles from the sun, probably produced about 50-60kg of fruit each and lost the odd branch, which is still a huge harvest, but they survived that beautifully gruelling summer and lived to bear more fruit in the coming years.

Even nature prefers unending summers, and might not like trying hard to survive the winters, but without autumn and the  survival of winter into spring, deciduous leaves wouldn’t fall and create the mulchy beginnings of compost to bring the cycle back around – all the nutrients of the soil would be taken in continuous growth, unless or until it kills itself in growth.

A species set on endless growth is unsustainable.

We must rest in order to grow and produce – we must ebb in order to flow.  It’s part of the cycle.


“The courageous life is the life that is equal to this unceasing tidal and seasonal becoming: and strangely beneath all, stillness being the only proper physical preparation for joining the breathing autonomic exchange of existence.”

Whyte, David (2015-04-08). Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaningof Everyday Words


When did we lose our respect for pulling back and resting?

We lost our respect for the ebb when “being productive” became the mantra for society.

If you’re not being productive, you’re being lazy, which has many negative social connotations, as I’m sure you well know.

The darker side of this is that “being productive” became “generating money”, and “being lazy” became “not generating money” over time.  Time and effort exchanged for money.

Before unions, it was beaten into us that this was the case.

But there is a difference between being lazy and being idle.

Being lazy is when you don’t put in the necessary hard work but expect to get the same results, and expect to feel the same way at the end of it.  Being lazy is when you just don’t care about what you’re doing, or want to be doing it in the first place, so you put in only a fraction of the effort needed, but still expect to get the same results as if you did care and did put the work in.

Being idle is when you deliberately rest, ease back into yourself, knowing and probably anticipating with glee the next flow.


The tricky part is that, on the surface, it looks no different to “laziness”, but underneath it really is very different.

And deep inside, you know the difference – you know when you can’t be bothered to do something when you really need to, and you know when you are collapsing in a heap because you’re exhausted and can’t give any more.

Honour that.



In Hope,


We Are Made Of Movement

I’ve been reading a book over the last couple of months – dipping in and out of it – that has had a really profound effect on the way I see and feel about life and the world.  It’s called “Consolations – The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meanings of Everyday Words” by David Whyte.  He examines everyday words and explains what the word really means in philosophical, poetic and practical terms; words such as Solace, Heartbreak, Beauty, and Unconditional.

For a Desire Mapper like me, a book like this is invaluable: Desire Mapping forces you to really dig into and underneath words, their history, their meanings, their uses, and examining the individual effects each word has on you and the emotions each word evokes within.  Learning this kind of information is what drives you to choose your Core Desired Feelings – the emotional states that you wish to inhabit your life in that become your guiding lights when goal-setting.

A word that caught my attention over the last fortnight is “Pilgrim”.

Accoding to Whyte, “Pilgrim is a word that accurately describes the average human being.”  We are all pilgrims through life, never entirely knowing what our destination is, except that the ending is our own ending.  Sobering thought, I guess.

If we are all pilgrims, then we are always moving.

“The defining experience at the diamond-hard center of reality is eternal movement as beautiful and fearful invitation; a beckoning dynamic asking us to move from this to that.”

Movement is not just about dancing and exercising, although these are great expressions of movement.

We are also moving through time and space within time and space.  We set goals.  We chase our dreams.

“We are so much made of movement that we speak of the destination being both inside us and beyond us; we sense we are the journey along the way, the one who makes it and the one who has already arrived.”

We are so much made of movement, made for movement, that if we do try to stop ourselves moving, that fragment of us we feel is left behind makes us feel sad the further away in time and space we move away from it, whether we want to or not.

This is why we tend to feel a need, or even a pressure, to move onwards – the pressures from within, not from cold, unfeeling outsiders yelling at you to “get over it!” – because movement happens all around us: time, space, other people, other life on the earth, the sun will rise another day, the earth will keep moving through space.

Whilst you might want to stay still,and whilst you might even need to stay still: to do so for too long will ultimately cause more sadness.

Movement therefore isn’t just about dancing or exercising – movement is about pulling each aspect of yourself together to move forwards through space and time: body, energy and soul.

And when all aspects of yourself come together?

That’s your personal power in action.

Not “power-over-someone-or-something else”, not domination – this is dominion.

Dominion is the power that gives you self-assurance and self-trust in your own abilities to achieve what you want to achieve.  Dominion is the power that makes you feel like you can take on the world and win.

Dominion is the power that makes you come alive.

Imagine how powerful your dreams and goals could be if you dreamt from this place of dominion?

But…how can we reach inner dominion?  How can we reunite body, energy and soul?

Through your body.

Your body is what tethers your soul and energy here in this life, on this planet.

Shall we get started?

I’m assisting my friend Tamara Romaniuk over at Living From Your Soul run a live Desire Map Workshop combined with Open Floor Movement in London this August 28th-30th.

Desire.  Movement.  Unity.  Dominion.

Putting your body and soul into goal-setting.

Imagine how much more powerful your dreams and goals will be.

To find out more, click here

We are made of movement – through space and time, in setting and chasing dreams, from here to there, through life itself.

How do you choose to move?


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