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Articles by Elaine Sturgess on Life and Love

Connection: Soul Relationships

Connection: Soul Relationships

It is the silent moments of perfect connection in life that can have the most profound impact.

The realisation and recognition of a wonderful soul connection sometimes only happens long after it
becomes a sweet – or bittersweet – memory. And for some, sadly, it never happens at all

One of the realisations for me in my recent journey in life, is that soul connections are not always in lasting relationships. Sometimes they are fleeting or short term, sometimes they involve romantic love and sometimes they do not, sometimes they are with other people and sometimes they are not, because all life forms have a soul. The thing they all have in common is that they have the potential to be life changing.

It seems that one of the reasons so many people do not experience soul connection and the magnificence of it, is because they are not open, aware or accepting of its possibility. And perhaps that’s because they don’t have a connection to the most important soul of all – their own.

In the human perspective, many of us see love as the greatest experience we can have in life and that it is in a romantic relationship that we will find our “soul mate” – and for many soul is equivalent to sole, the belief that we can only ever find one. We tend to define that experience by the impact it has on our five senses, the emotion it generates in our hearts and the physical sensations that it so potently inspires in our bodies.

I believe a soul connection is different. It is something you can experience as much in the silence, in moments where you are entwined in the presence of another and feel so connected to their being that the two of you feel like one. It is the feeling that you have known them forever. It is pure bliss, wSoul connections in arthen the world goes away entirely and your mind is finally empty of its chatter. There is no sense of time, because you are entirely in that moment, there is no future and no past, just the intense joy of “being”. There is no fear, no anxiety, no stress because you are not affected by your ego. It is full of happiness, peace and love, love, love…

Sometimes these soul connections occur in a relationship that is not otherwise sustainable or fulfilling. Sometimes we experience those connections in a relationship that is otherwise full of turmoil and chaos, pain and suffering. But that may be the very reason why we are in that soul connection, to learn and grow, to experience, to wake up to ourselves and others, to make changes in our lives. And though the intensity of the joy in some of the time we are together is so compelling, the circumstances that surround it sometimes mean we have let go, because it is the only way we can really appreciate the value it has had and understand the lessons we should learn as a result. Such is the irony of life.

I have done a great deal of searching in recent years, for answers about life, about pain and grief about the nature of humanity and relationships – and about myself. And in the process have read and absorbed information from some truly amazing and wise people. It’s all had an impact on where I am now and has changed dramatically my perceptions and understanding (including the fact that we all have our own unique understanding and truths and this article is a reflection of only mine!). I encountered two sources of information recently that  have influenced my belief about connection, the first is a book called Seat of The Soul by Gary Zukav, which is utterly brilliant in its premise – understanding the need to align our personality, our senses, who we typically define ourselves as being, with our soul – it is fascinating and enlightening beyond measure. I not so much wanted to read it, but completely absorb it.

The second is a quote that Elizabeth Gilbert makes in her book Eat, Pray, Love. It says this about soul mates:

“People think your soul mate is your perfect fit. And that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention, so you change your life.”

Perhaps it is my own recent relationship experience and the need to understand it that made reading that definition a lightbulb moment. What I know is that I have been lucky enough to experience more than one soul connection– though I did not necessarily have full awareness of it as being that at the time. And those relationships were in many other respects, entirely different. What I do know is that both gave me times of pure joy – and (though both as a result of intense pain) the opportunity to grow and learn and change myself and my experience of life.

I believe that soul connections never end – though we may no longer be in the physical presence of the other being, we remain eternally connected. That has been a source of great comfort.

So I will be forever grateful to know – and to have known – this experience.

Love is in the Air…

Love is in the Air…

… Literally.

Love is indefinable. Not in the sense that it is necessarily difficult to understand what love means to us individually, but in the sense that it is unique to everyone – and that it is boundless. How we feel love, how we give love and how we understand it ,can have a myriad of variations. If we are open to it, there is also a dimension to love that is infinite. It might be described as connection; although in a sense that word is too limited by its implication of stretching across the seabeing a linear link; this connection has no limitations in its form, it is not confined by parallel lines. It is in the light, it spreads everywhere, it is throughout the universe. And therefore it is beyond life. This is love as a soul connection.

Whether you are skin to skin or separated by oceans, the connection is there. Always. It travels through space and time, it is eternal, it is in the air.

Whatever happens in this life, or in the next, or out there in the light, soul connections never break. They are forever.

A&E, Love always…

Vote for #Manchester, Vote for PEACE

Vote for #Manchester, Vote for PEACE

Picasso's Dove of Peace

Waking up to the news this morning was sickening. Heartbroken for the lives lost and also for the thousands of lives that have been devastated by this despicable act.

We have an election coming up, for me, it’s a message that says vote for a party that is pro PEACE.

This World does not need any more Governments that are Pro Weapons, Pro War, Pro Power and Control and it certainly doesn’t need a Government that is Pro Oppression. Oppression creates conflict.

Of course there are requirements for protection, but we need to be specific in the policies we adopt to identify and deal with terrorism, not take a blanket approach either in the controls that are employed or the judgements that are made. As long as we continue to shut down people’s freedom in general, we will fail to deal with the World’s issues. More oppression will lead to more conflict on a wider spectrum. The basic principal of dealing with hate with hate, fighting arms with arms is disastrous. It puts into context the disgusting announcement that the US has just agreed a multi billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Even more that it is lauded as a great commitment to the American people. It is not. It is an incitement to more conflict, more aggression. And don’t be fooled that it is about Jobs; that’s a mere bi product, a convenient justification. It’s all about Power and Control.

The World is becoming more dominated by the politics of power than ever, where fear is a held as a premium by the controlling authorities, where freedom is replaced by control, where truth is irrelevant, an illusion.

When people are oppressed and their voices are not heard, when basic principals of humanity are a cost of wealth, power and control, when human beings cannot be – and live – as who they are, when beliefs are supervised, when our basic happiness is sacrificed for economic strength and global strength, the only outcome can be disaster and misery.

So for what it’s worth my vote in his election will be a Pro PEACE Vote. Rest In Peace, beautiful souls from Manchester.

Sant Jordi’s Day: A Celebration of Love and Life

Sant Jordi’s Day: A Celebration of Love and Life

Yesterday was Sant Jordi’s Day here in Catalunya in Spain – it’s the equivalent of our Saint Valentine’s Day in the UK, but this is an altogether different kind of celebration, one which I wish we could echo. I was lucky enough to experience my first with Anna, my partner in life and love, in the coastal town of Vilanova I La Geltru

There are many differences that make this day such a special experience, one which is far freer of the commercialism and cynicism that seems now far more obvious to me about St Valentines.

For one, here, as in so many of their traditions, it is much more of a community event. Many towns here have a Rambla (and Vilanova has one of the longest in Spain) where it is customary to wonder the street, meet friends and family, have a coffee and enjoy the sunshine and the atmosphere. It’s a fabulous vibe on most days, but on Sant Jordi’s its’ even more special. The street is lined with stalls selling roses – and books. Here, the tradition is to buy not just a rose, but also a book for your loved ones You wonder down the avenue together in the company of thousands, all celebrating each other, love and life.

The original tradition springs from the legend of Sant Jordi  – and the story is similar to our own legend of Saint George, the dragon slayer. But in the case of Sant Jordi, after he has saved his Princess and slayed the dragon, a rose grows from the blood of the dragon’s heart. So on the anniversary of this day it has been the custom for a man to buy a rose for their Princess and for their Princess in return to buy a book for them.

But it has now become more of a celebration of love for everyone, not just romantic love, but of love generally. You see everyone carrying roses, men, women, children – and pets!! This is as much about expressing familial love or friendship as the love you feel for your partner. In the UK, Valentines Day has become way too much of a pressure, particularly in heterosexual relationships, to spend a fortune making grand gestures to prove the power of your love. Here, it is far more about the thought. The tradition is to buy just one rose, but to choose it carefully for its meaning. It will probably cost you no more than 3 euros.

For the flower, your choice might be about the meaning of colour, red, white, yellow, even blue!! Or you might make your selection based on the charity or foundation that the sellers are supporting; humanitarian, animals, politics, religion, education and many other causes that you and your loved ones might like to support.

And then there is the book. I absolutely love this as a way of sharing not just your love for each other, but your life. Every book, whether a fictional story or a non fiction work, offers something valuable. Whether it be a lesson, history, information or simply entertainment. Wondering by the book stalls and seeing people thinking about the books they will buy is a joyful experience.

For the whole day wondering through the city, you see everyone with roses, no age, gender, persuasion, race, relationship status or even species excepted. It is a day of celebration of love and life, it is a day in which you see and feel so much expression of it that it is literally true to say that love is in the air. And the simplicity of it is extraordinary. To enjoy it; to feel it; all you have to do is walk down the street and just breathe.

Hello Sunshine…

Hello Sunshine…

Sunset in Siruana

While you are here

And after you are gone

When your journey into light

Means your time on Earth is done

The sun rises in the East

With spectacular display

To give the glory of your life

A reminder that this day

Is one you can enjoy

The world of wonder that surrounds

Your every waking moment

Colour in touch, sight and sound

Nature’s gifts are your life lessons

They’re instilled in tiny things

They’re a beautiful reminder

Of the joy that living brings

If it’s only for a moment

If your chance is only brief

Take the time to feel its pleasure

And be safe in the belief

That the sun that woke to greet you

At the beginning of the day

Will set with equal glory

In the West, when it will say

That the night is soon upon you

Did you take the time to play?

If not, then face the dark

With the comfort of a truth

That I will rise again to greet you

With another chance to choose

And on those days when you can’t see me

I am there staying strong

Some clouds might block my rays

But they will pass before too long

Like life, the sun is constant

But its brightness has to face

The challenge of the weather

That puts darkness in its place

When you look up to the sky

And you see a bank of clouds

The sun is still behind them

Perhaps its rays are peeping out

Determined, strong and willing

It’s intent on breaking through

Because though fleeting be that moment

It’s a chance to shine on you

Whatever life throws at you

Be like the sun

Make the most of the moments

Whenever they may come

To cast the light inside you

Bask in golden rays

Enjoy your precious time

Seconds, hours, days

And remember, there’s a limit

You are here as a guest

To see the sunrise in the East

And its setting in the West

Grief is a journey into Life

Grief is a journey into Life

The last week has been a challenging one, another of those weeks in which my experiences of people and what I haveRumi - Grief and Compassion
seen published has made me grow in understanding in a meaningful way. I watched a couple of videos today that were really poignant for me. One was by Rio Ferdinand, the British footballer who has been making a TV documentary about his wife’s death. Although what I saw was brief, it echoed in some respects my own loss experience, his wife having been in hospital for three months between diagnosis of her cancer and her passing.

Rio’s wife Rebecca passed a little under 2 years ago – and I remember the place he is in now, where he is on that never ending journey through grief, the things he has felt and experienced, how far he has yet to go.

The second video was of me, in an interview with the brilliant and so supportive Alice Frick, who is helping me with a new initiative I am launching to help people experience more happiness in their lives in even the darkest of circumstances. That video in itself was painful – because it raised so many memories and churned up so many of the feelings that are so very difficult to deal with in getting your life back. Guilt, for wanting to be happy again, anxiety about whether it appears disrespectful, sadness at the acknowledgement that Maria is no longer here… so many feelings.

But it also made me think, with huge gratitude, about the lessons I have learned during this journey.

I have had to learn a lot about myself and my weaknesses, my damage, my issues. The things about me that have made me behave the way I behave - and the way I approach my relationships and life itself. Grief is an intensely personal experience, but for many, two of the major things that can happen when you experience this kind of devastating loss are:

  1. Your defences are shattered and you become totally exposed, pure involuntary vulnerability.

That openness, that raw vulnerability, means you have the opportunity to face into everything that has made you into the person you are today. And to address and strip away all of things that you no longer believe or need, it offers you the chance to go back to what is your true nature and to be who you truly are without the fears and barriers that are created by the influence of others and the insecurity of caring about what others think

  1. You get to understand more about life

My specific experience of Maria’s passing was devastating, but death gave me the chance to understand more about life. That might sound cruel, because it was Maria who lost her life – and why should I gain from that experience? Well you can believe me when I say that I have beaten myself up about that one for years. But ultimately life is a precious gift that we need to appreciate and make the most of. And the point of life is to enjoy it – to be happy. Maria knew that more than most.

Those two opportunities are astoundingly powerful; should you choose to take them. They also require a huge amount of bravery to embrace. Because in rebuilding yourself you must explore, admit to and own your weaknesses, your mistakes and the behaviours you do not like. You must confront and go through the dark emotions… depression, sadness, guilt, anger, shame… and you have to acknowledge and accept them.

It is a painful part of life’s journey.

But the ultimate reward is a kind of freedom that most never get to experience. An understanding of life, purpose and what’s important that allows you to make more of your time on Earth. More than most even start to comprehend. It gives you greater compassion and understanding, yet also gives you the strength to set the boundaries that can stop you being abused and exploited by the agendas of others. Above all, it lets you know that it is not only ok, but essential to be happy, without guilt or shame for being so. Because in this World, where what we see seems to be so dominated by hatred, anger, fear and ignorance, taking personal responsibility and – yes – delight in your own happiness, is the most powerful way you have, not only to take full advantage of this precious gift called life, but also to have a positive impact on the collective happiness of the World.

More people than not, will read this and regard it as selfish, naïve, unrealistic and all other manner of negative things. They are the ones who have not seen or embraced death or life. The majority of people pass through life with no understanding of its purpose, they are like computer processors, passing each day with no appreciation of the gift they have been given and the endless potential it has to bring them happiness. If only they could see it. This is not to say I do not understand the hardships of life – again, you can believe me when I say I have experienced many. More than some, less than others. But the point is, there is always something to be grateful for, to enjoy. The simple pleasures of life are the most profound. I have been to the edge and back. To the few who understand and appreciate this message, congratulations – I know, like Maria and me, despite the challenges that may confront you, the choice will ultimately be, to make sure for at least part of every day, you are dancing in the light.

When the Sea is like Glass

When the Sea is like Glass

Elaine Sturgess and Anna Garcia Cuartero

When the sea is like glass
A reflective place
Stand at its edge
Look into your face

It’s a mirror of nature
It flows on your skin
Floats across your eyes
Sees the life within

Capture its stillness
Bathe in its peace
Roll in its depths
Breathe and release

Soak in its wonder
Read what you see
They’re the words of guidance
What is meant to be

In the silence of calm
Hear the voice of your soul
Feel the beat of your heart
Let your spirit be whole

And when the storm is raging
As it surely will be
And the chaos prevailing
Tests your strength in degree

Remember the glass
And the face that you saw
Its return is as certain
As the sea to the shore

You are as constant
As that calm that’s beneath
The storm’s brief affair
Is just a test of belief

You have more courage
Than the surf’s cruel blast
You can ride the waves
Your balance will last

The wind will drop
The tides will pass
And your reflection will smile
When the sea is like glass

By Elaine, For Anna

Belief is more powerful than Truth

Belief is more powerful than Truth

Illusions, believe your own Truth

Over the past few weeks, watching Donald Trump start a dangerous and painful period in human history, one of the most difficult things for many to grapple with has been the search for the truth. In classic narcissist behaviour, Trump and his team have used a number of techniques to manipulate, hide, and alter information to leave a largely confused population scrabbling to establish just what the truth is. It’s a cruel and masterful control tactic. It creates confusion, fear and division as the various factions fight to defend the position that, in their belief, is the truth. Perhaps what we need to learn to understand, is that the most powerful word in the previous sentence is not truth, but belief.

The Truth in relation to fact, is a rare thing and sometimes not as valuable as we think it should be. The Truth in relation to honesty, has a huge value, but more in terms of the honesty itself, than in what it may reveal. Because the truth is, we each have our own truth. And it becomes our truth, because we have been conditioned for it to be so. I have been blessed (and cursed) with a brain that always wanted to know the real truth, to find the answer. And then a few years ago my wife died – and I was faced with the truths and the questions that I would raise, but for which I could find no answer. About the meaning of life, about God, about death. And I kept on trying to find some answers, until I finally realised that there were none and that were no truths – and if there had been, they would have been irrelevant. What mattered, were my beliefs. 

Trump’s fake news, alternative facts and misinformation have brought that period of search back to me. And it made me think about the nature of truth in our lives. Trump is certainly not the first US President or World leader to use the tactics of fear and confusion – far from it, though he is probably one of the least subtle! So I thought about history in general; that we learn about history from the records and from our teachers, we accept what we are told as fact. But actually, all that we have most of the time, is a perception of what happened from one or more persons point of view. A record gleaned from someone having being there and witnessed some part of it, or having seen a photograph or unearthed a relic from the past. But because we receive this information from people or records that we respect, we accept it as truth. But really, it was only their truth. Just like Chinese whispers, that truth has been handed down and reconceived, polished, altered based on the viewpoint of others.

But we do not have to accept the truth of others.

Beauty is Truth
"Truth is Beauty" at The Burning Man - sculpture by Marco Cochrane, San Francisco Bay Area

We can hold on to our own truth, or we can choose to change it if we encounter a viewpoint that affects our understanding. But it is often futile to spend time trying to find “the real truth”. More often than not it either does not exist or is irrelevant.

So what really matters is what you believe. And whatever you believe, remain true to it. And know that you cannot change the beliefs of others. What you can do, is talk about, practice and reinforce your own beliefs. In doing so, you may influence others, but change will be of their own will, not because you tried to control or have power over them. Trump does not care that we might be saying negative things about him, he does not care that he gets caught out in a lie, all that matters is that we keep talking about it – because that distracts us from the reality and keeps us from focusing on our beliefs and making progress with our own agendas. Which is exactly what it wants, to take away our freedom of thought. The way to take that power and control away from him is to stop seeking the truth about what he and his team say and concentrate on your own truth and your own beliefs and upholding them. You are one of many. The force of good in this World far outweighs the force of evil. There obviously have to be controls to deal with extreme and harmful situations, but in my view, the general balance is better cultivated by simply concentrating on upholding the beliefs that you believe to be good.

I can tell you this for sure; that when I looked into the eyes of my wife and saw the light leave her as she passed from this life , the only things she took with her were love and the knowledge that she lived her life fully and being true to herself. And in the end, that was all that mattered.

I have no idea how Trump’s Presidency will ultimately be recorded in history, but what I do believe is that he will teach the world some very important lessons, about the real nature of truth and freedom. And one of those lessons will be to stop trying to find the truth, it is a diversionary tactic that confuses and controls. Instead, think about your own beliefs. Live them, share them and be honest and true to them. The Universe will do the rest.

Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Siurana, Catalunya

On the first day of 2017 I visited a magical place in the company of magical people. Not in a fantasy land of media making, but a real one here on earth. It was the third time I have experienced that feeling of being in a heavenly place in recent times – and I realised that on each occasion, it involved a sense of being above the clouds – and in amazing light. The first time was at Machu Picchu, where the sun rose over a distant peak and spread its glorious rays through a carpetSunrise over Machu Picchu, Peru of clouds that rose between the mountains. It was ethereal. The second time was on a plane as I gazed at the Supermoon recently, it shone across a stretch of cotton wool sea, as we flew above it. And the third time was on New Year’s Day at Siurana in Catalunya, where the clouds again rose between the peaks and the sun’s setting light made for an almost surreal view, you know, one that you look at in retrospect in a picture and can’t quite believe that you really saw it?

Each time, the thought crossed my mind, “this is heaven on earth”.

But this time it also occurred to me that contemplating the nature of heaven is just like contemplating the nature of life. Ultimately, when there are no real facts to hold on to (and when you really think about it, very few hard facts actually exist), our experience and understanding come down to what we choose to believe. And that belief is personal to each of us and ours to own. Recent events in my life have brought me to the belief that we – and everything around us, far beyond what our eyes can see - exist of and in light. We are light and our light shines beyond our current lifetime and across boundaries we barely know exist. That belief helps me to now experience life with more gratitude, simplicity and happiness than before. And with less fear.

Heaven is not just a place that we go to when we pass from this lifetime, neither is it just a place on earth, it is wherever, whatever or however we perceive it to be, either real or imagined. We do not have to be constrained by the understanding, beliefs or knowledge of others. We each have our own truth. We can create our heaven with the pure magic of our own belief… and what is even more magical, is that we can choose what we want that to be…