James here again, with a #ThrowbackTuesday that is perfect Christmas viewing! This week it’s Philip McKernan.
An exclusive teaser of the two-hour course that Philip gave at London Real studios is now available, so if you need more McKernan in your life click here to take a look.
Early on in the actual London Real episode, Brian and Philip get into an absorbing dialogue about the relationship between the mind and intuition.
Most of us think we belong to either the mind camp or the emotion camp. We think it’s a matter of our personality.
Philip says that the mind and the intuition are distinct things, but that we all have them equally.
It’s part of being a healthy human being to have the two integrated. Philip insists the intuition should lead us, and the mind should serve us.
I think it’s important to remember that it’s not about saying one is better than the other. The mind and the intuition are equally important.
But it’s a matter of what makes you healthy and happy. Trying to use the mind to access the deep spiritual core of who we are, is not going to work.
I love what Philip says about the soul. The soul is the unique part of us, the thing which makes us distinct. Our intuition is the soul speaking to us.
We often ignore the intuition for the sake of the mind, because it is safe. The mind gives clear answers to clear problems.
Most of us get dragged into negative cycles, however, when we start trying to use the mind to solve deeper soul issues.
For instance, I have a friend who is always trying to figure out the next step in his life. He’s a hugely talented, highly educated and experienced man, but he seems to be in a permanent state of crisis about his life’s mission.
He’s using his mind to avoid listening to what his heart tells him. There’s always a good reason for him to ignore the feeling in his gut.
The mind cannot give your life meaning. But most of us still try to get our happiness and fulfilment from the mind.
I think this is the fundamental mistake at the heart of most of the depression, anxiety and neurosis of modern living.Because of the age of enlightenment and the industrial revolution, we’ve become so impressed with the complex logic of the mind and what it can achieve, we try to apply mind-method to non-mind areas of our lives.
I think a great way to elucidate this is to look at romantic relationships.
We’ve all been in the situation where a romantic prospect has looked promising “on paper”. We might struggle to find a reason not to love them.
The trouble is we don’t love them. Weighing the pros and cons of entering into an intimate relationship with someone is a dissatisfying approach for most of us.
The prospect needs to have that “chemistry”, that mystery ingredient that makes our heart race and our imaginations run wild with excitement.
But we make this mistake all the time. More often than not, we look to the mind to give us the answers to the fundamental questions of inner peace and fulfilment. That’s not what the mind is for.
When it comes to our job, our family life, who we should hang around with, we too easily get lost in trying to “figure it out” rather than just listening to the answer we already know is there.What I like about Philip McKernan is that he doesn’t just say the nice, fluffy new-age stuff and leave it at that.
“Believe In You” is not a chirpy catchphrase he uses to make you feel better. A lot of his discussion with Brian revolves around the reasons we turn away from the heart.
Believing in ourselves is terrifying. We go to great lengths to avoid doing it.
You might protest. Maybe you think you are pretty good at following your gut, and you are quite a confident person.
I would ask you to take another look at the basic stuff in your life – your family life, your work and love relationships. Are they really ALL expressions of absolute authenticity?
As a poet and an artist, I guess I’ve prided myself on sticking to my guns. I see it as my life’s mission to stand alone and be a voice crying out in the wilderness.
But I have had a lot of failures, a lot of resistance. I’ve forced myself to work in toxic work environments and I’ve hung around unsupportive people.
I justify it by telling myself the world is not poet-friendly, that it’s all part of the struggle. I have hidden behind the moral superiority of having “a real job”, at the expense of actually achieving my artistic dreams.
After watching Philip McKernan, I have a new perspective on all this.
How many of these experiences could have been avoided? And how many of these negative situations did I create for myself as a form of resistance?
It’s much easier to put yourself in an environment that’s guaranteed to mess with your purpose, than it is to actually get out there are live that purpose.
You get to blame the evils of the world, the thoughtlessness of others, the small-mindedness of some family members.
You get to have it both ways. You tell yourself you are fighting for a meaningful life, but all the while you are sabotaging it by getting bogged down in distractions.
Being authentic is hard, and it seems to be getting harder and harder in this consumerist and technologically driven world.
It’s essential though.Philip talks about how he spoke to soldiers in the US military and tried to help them dis-identify from their uniforms.
“You are not my heroes” he told them. Some were offended. But some felt secretly liberated. Because it shows that a life of meaning is not tied up in mind-created ideas.
Philip calls it alignment. When the mind and the heart work together, that’s when start to live from a naturally positive place. Our relationships and our life’s work start to reflect an authentic person, and they become easier.
Ironically, the material stuff starts to become less of a headache. Things are still a challenge, but we approach the difficulties from a place of purpose, rather than a place of scarcity, as Philip puts it.
This is a great episode. It’s one to go back to, and I’ve found myself relaxing and calming myself as I watch it.
Philip is a straight-shooter, and he can even be harshly direct. But he’s got this warmth and compassion that means you trust what he says.
Philip allows others to be themselves. Just listening to him talk has put me in a place of self-love and alignment. One day, I hope I can be the kind of person that does that for others too.
Let me know your big takeaway from Philip’s interview, and in the comments below tell me about an area of your life where you need to listen to your gut, and not your mind.