We don't take or store your personal data (other than to show this message) unless you register. Please read our confidentiality policy for details.

John The Walker of Minds

Helping people to care for themselves

How do we deal with our emotions?, How can we feel OK just being ourselves?, How do we go about understanding life?, How do we motivate and energise ourselves to make meaningful life changes?
Stepping Stones
Click to explore!

About Personal Learning

One Story Behind My Work

There is a way that we humans naturally tend to go about our lives that can lead to us becoming wiser and more developed as individual people as we grow. At times in our lives this development is faster and at times it is slower. At times most of us consciously choose to enhance this development and at times it happens whether we want it to or not.
My web pages explore the idea that whatever personal choices we make, whatever personal attributes we have, whatever personal circumstances we find ourselves in, the basic way that we progress is the same.
By identifying the three basic steps or phases that we each follow every time we learn more about life, we can enhance our personal progression. It does not matter what path or paths we follow in life, the basic way that we progress is the same. We might consciously or uncosciously choose a spiritual path, or an academic path, or a professional path, or a path of service, or a hedonistic path, or some combination of these or other paths. Each of us will acquire learning and experience through the things that we choose to do and the ways that we choose to be. I suggest that our learning follows a cycle of three basic steps, which I will introduce in a few moments.
In these web pages you can discover more about the three phases of deeper learning and how to benefit from your own increasing knowledge and also how to work on a number of common challenges that we may face in modern-day life.

The Challenge of Life? A Context for Life-Long Learning

Think about this statement: The vital single most important truth about life is its reality.
Whatever your religious or philosophical background, whatever you hold as your life purpose or context, whatever your spiritual viewpoint, the one thing that influences your whole life is the reality of your physical body and the reality of your personal surroundings. Even if you believe that physical reality is basically an illusion, as long as you are a human being in a human body your primary task in life is to recognise the reality of your condition. If you fail to recognise that reality, through choice or illness, then your ability to continue living as a human in a human body will inevitably become reduced.
When we aspire to spiritual growth, or self-development, or to become mature, or choose to join in with or lead society in any of the multitudinous roles available to us, we do that within the context of dealing with reality and engaging with it. It is important that not only do we recognise and learn to discern reality from falsehood but that we take action in our lives.
Simply through existing in it, life continually challenges us to test our innermost self against the truth of the reality that we find ourselves in.
Interestingly, many philosophies teach us that the more we recognise and embrace reality, the more enlightened and deeply spiritually mature we can become. There are different ways to describe this life-long learning but I maintain that a very simple model of this cycle of personal growth comprises the following simple phases or steps:

4 Phases of Learning

There is a larger story behind this website. The topics that I explore are largely introspective, they are about understanding something about ourselves. But everyday life is much bigger than that, with understanding just a starting point. It is what we do with understanding that is really important, how we live our lives, the decisions we make, our wins and our losses.
The larger story behind my work is about motivation and faith and personal growth, about achievement and wisdom and hope. It is about our fundamental cycle of living and learning, and how we can make use of that in a very pragmatic way to live life more fully, to be more satisfied, to be more successful, or to learn how to be the best that we can be.
I have no priceless mystical secret laws to sell, nor previously unknown powerful panaceas, and I do not pound a drum of "new" thinking. Everything that I offer fits into one simple key approach to understanding and promoting long-lasting change, and the wealth of insights and observations that support it. And I'll give you the outlines of that key approach right here.
I suggest that each of us follows a fundamentally simple cycle as we experience life, learn from it, and change as a result. Perhaps we are simply growing up and gaining wisdom, or we may have embarked on a conscious path of personal or spiritual development, or we may be setting out to become a teacher, councellor, or mentor. I believe that the basic cycle of deep-learning is the same and it can be described in these basic phases or steps:
Relaxing : Turning Up :- breathing, stretching, taking a break, being in the moment, ... (Here I am)
Releasing : Getting Real :- truth-telling, verification, researching, understanding, accepting, forgiving, ... (I can)
Reinventing : Choosing :- deciding, taking a stand, joining in, engaging, aspiring, ... (I will)
Reflecting : Commiting :- imagining, acknowledging, reviewing, completing, appreciating, ... (I am)
Or you might describe these phases in more modern developmental language as:
Thinking Critically
In my opinion, these phases, though simplified, describe the core of our innate cycle of gainful change. We perform these phases naturally, continuously, and repeatedly - and usually unconsciously. All the phases are important and learning will be limited without all of them.
My question is, how can we make the most of this cycle and learn more effectively? How can we learn, and therefore grow and change, more directly and more directedly? How can we make the most of what we have to get the most of who we are? How do we convert a cycle that happens to us into a process that works for us?
The first of these phases (Relaxing) is an essential act of allowing our change to take place, and yet many people can find this to be one of the hardest of the phases. Modern societies often don't encourage inner stillness and so it is a skill that is often underdeveloped. Equally, stillness is not a very effective end in itself if you actually want to develop as a human being.
Purposeful assessment of ourselves and our current life combined with letting go of our painful emotions and self-justifications (Releasing) can help direct and enable our choices. However, we can self-analyse and learn facts about our own psychology until they come out of our ears and gain the best diplomas and credentials in the world but these will not by themselves turn us into contented, effective, or productive people.
Our deeply-held passions provide us with the motivation and enthusiasm to aspire, they provide us with a definition of who and what we are and what it is that we stand for. Though passion alone can inspire and propel us into great acts of will (Reinventing), it can also lead us astray or betray our deeper intentions.
Contemplation (Reflecting) can provide us with a context for our life and reveal personal meaning. But contemplation without genuine engagement in life can be more of a path to escapism than a path to enlightenment.
Strong growth comes from firm and well-founded roots. It is clarity of mind and a deep empathy with our own personality that provides the roots from which we are able to grow. It is clarity of mind and a deep empathy with our own personality that provide a conduit for the passion that fuels our growth and sustains it over time to achieve our higher aspirations. And it is familiarity with our own bigger-picture that provides the "meaning" that is vital to clarity.
Throughout this website I begin to look at the four-phase process, how we can make it real, and how we can benefit from it.

phase 1. Relaxing (Turning up)

This first phase is all about getting ready for the other three phases.
Clearing some time and your creating a safe evironment
Physically slowing down
Parking emotions and thoughts for this time
Going through some specific relaxation process such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, listening to gentle music
"If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath." - Amit Ray, Om Chanting and Meditation

phase 2. Releasing (Critical Thinking etc.)

This phase, in its simplest form, is the one that we experience much of the time. In this phase life happens around us and to us and we attempt to discern truth and meaning.
Factual Learning
Questioning / Enquiring
Getting real? outgrowing fantasy whilst building on vision
Exposing truths
"The amount you are suffering in your life is directly related to how much you are resisting the fact that things are the way they are." - Bill Harris, CenterPointe Research Institute

phase 3. Reinventing (Choosing, Purpose Work, Processing, etc.)

The third phase is how we choose to engage with life, what actions we take, how we choose to be, what beliefs and faiths we take on. This phase involves our becoming more than a spectator of life, we engage with life. Often this phase includes some element of risk, whether perceived or not, and always there is a sacrifice of some sort that goes with choosing. Committing to one action sacrifices other potential actions.
"If you can't figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose." - Bishop T. D. Jakes

phase 4. Reflection (Mindfulness etc.)

The final phase is both a completion and a new beginning as completing the cycle of the three phases allows us to restart at phase one. This phase is often seen as an end in itself or a reward for actions completed. Many will say that what they want from life is to be happy, content, or fulfilled, and these feelings are most reliably to be found in this phase.
Experiencing Bliss/Contentment/Gratitude
The importance of letting go
Self acknowledgment
Living in the moment
In the groove / In the zone
Spiritual growth
Identifying larger life purposes
"Feelings happen. Only when you believe your feelings are truth and feel an urgency to act on them do irrational feelings become bad decisions." - Suzanne Lachmann, TinyBuddha.com

4-Phase Learning: Another Perspective

Relaxing. The most important part of purposeful change is actually taking it seriously and allocating some time and effort to your self. In it's simplest form this means maybe taking a deep breath and putting thoughts and feelings of your day to one side for a while so that you can concentrate more easily on your deeper purposes and intentions. Making yourself ready.
Releasing. Establishing reality is something that we humans tend to think that we are pretty good at. After all, we have well-defined sciences and endless experts that know pretty much everything, don't they? Actually, establishing personal reality and gaining some clarity about who and what we are is something a little different from gathering facts. Even with recent advances in psychology and neuroscience we still know remarkably little about the basics of being human. Releasing is almost a double phase, of establishing some understanding about our own personal reality and then letting go of those aspects of our own deeper thinking that are stopping us from changing automatically. Technically this is the most challenging of the phases as it can require us to challenge our prejudices, our pretensions, and our self-protections. The benefits are huge though and there are actually many different approaches that can be explored.
In this website you will find a number of fascinating explorations of different aspects of the human mind. Vital insights to empower self-discovery.
Reinventing. In the past half century there has been a surge of interest in motivational science and motivational products. These are all about reinventing or choosing ways of going about life that suit our current aims and intentions. And much of this is still at an early stage, owing at least as much to philosophy as to objective study.
As this website grows, you will find more and more practical ways to ignite enthusiasm and maintain appropriate and discerning willpower.
Reflecting. This is seemingly the most straightforward and simple phase. Surely we all know how to ponder over what has happened to us or drift into fantasy about what is coming next? Few of us take the trouble to do this consistently or constructively though, and this is also the phase that is most often skipped as we move from one urgent demand to the next in our busy or pleasure-seeking lives.
This website is for Life's Seekers and, as more material is added, it will expose alternative approaches to reflecting and completing so that we can move on ready and empowered to engage with life again and again.
"Every positive change--every jump to a higher level of energy and awareness--involves a rite of passage. Each time to ascend to a higher rung on the ladder of personal evolution, we must go through a period of discomfort, of initiation. I have never found an exception." - Dan Millman, 21st century philosopher