Why Attitude is the Greatest Alchemy of Life

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” ~ Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)

One of my favourite books is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Its prose is poetic and its theme, wise. In a nut shell, the ancient art of alchemy is the coveted ability to turn lead or mercury into gold. Imagine what a valuable skill that would be…

The Alchemist by David Teniers the Younger

The Alchemist by David Teniers the Younger

Everything you touched transformed literally into gold…  But in a broader sense we are all alchemists. You see, attitude is the raw material of personal alchemy.

By harnessing our most helpful and positive thought processes we can turn any perceived negative situation to our advantage, thus transforming undesirable substances into the elixir of happiness.

alchemy - Jabir_ibn_Hayyan

I love the saying, when life gives you lemons make lemonade. We’ve all known people who can step into a pile of steaming dung and seemingly come out smelling of roses. And there are others who appear to have it all: beauty, talent, fame, money, and on the surface they seem to be highly successful. But if you were a fly on the wall you might understand that issues can plague them just as much as the rest of us. Illness, heartache, family strife, or any kind of situation could be causing them misery, sadness and anxiety.

We all have our ‘stuff’ to deal with. Not least of which is that annoying little voice that likes to chirp up at the most inconvenient moment to tell us that we’re not good enough.

Or is that just me?

No matter what is going on around us, if we stop comparing ourselves to others and just focus on being the best person we can be, we can handle these sticky situations and mutate them into the precious metals of our lives…

The Alchemist by Joseph Wright

The Alchemist by Joseph Wright

When I look back on my saddest moments and greatest life challenges, I know that’s when I grew the most. When the chips are down you learn more about yourself than you do when it’s all plain sailing. My inner strength was forged in the fire of suffering. But it’s like Jesus said, “This too shall pass.” With the benefit of hindsight I’ve been able to get some perspective and see how my attitude either helped or hindered me in those times.

When I was faced with the ultimate choice to either change or die, I think you can guess when I finally created my gold.

Attitude is a very fluid thing, it can change according to our mood and circumstances, but the trick is to be aware of our thoughts and our self-talk, and when it dips be able to alter it accordingly. I know that I’m normally quite a ‘high’ sort of person but I can sometimes get pulled into a ‘low’ when things don’t go my way, which tends to happen fairly frequently.

Attitude - Charles Swindoll

I try to be a constant practitioner of gratitude, because unless you’re dead, things can always be worse. There have been days when, as Zig Ziglar so aptly put it, I needed a ‘check-up from the neck up’.

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” ~ Zig Ziglar

Speaking of Mr Ziglar, here’s the man himself. Attitude Makes All The Difference:

Gratitude lets you see the beauty of your life which opens you to possibilities and better, more positive outcomes. We can’t second guess the universe, we can only play the current hand that we’re dealt with and try to make the best of it. Sometimes a duff hand is the most amazing blessing in disguise, even though in our despair we may ask, “Why is this happening to me?” The answer may not always become clear until after the event.

attitude - gratitude

Wounded souls have undergone healing, and are capable of deep compassion, empathy, strength and love.  The desire to serve and make things better for others often comes from experiencing a hardship that we want to spare our fellow man. Pain, whether it be emotional or physical is the main ingredient in our noble quest for transformation. Heartache is metallurgy for the soul.

It’s not our intelligence that will make the difference.  We could be the brainiest person in the world, but if our thoughts about us and others were negative, a high IQ wouldn’t count for much. If we have the attitude to know that we don’t know everything we can always learn from someone who has gone before us.

Our attitude is the thing that makes the biggest difference. If we evaluate where we’re at and adjust our settings accordingly we won’t get thrown too far off our course. It’s the only true thing we have complete control over.

attitude - living-success

After conducting countless experiments Thomas Edison might have rightly announced he was never going to invent the electric light bulb, but after being questioned about his apparent lack of results Edison was quick to respond:

“Results!  Why, man, I have gotten lots of results!  I know several thousand things that won’t work!”

So our thoughts and beliefs either elevate our attitude or they drag it into the gutter.

The sheer exuberance, innocence and enthusiasm for life that my children regularly demonstrate shows me how important that sense of wonderment really is. Magic is real to children.

Succumbing to wallowing in our weaknesses and problems is probably the biggest roadblock to leading the life of our dreams. When we have a purpose and passion in our lives it provides motivation to ditch these badly formed, ill-informed thoughts for ones that will better serve our inspiration. Brendon Burchard nails it in this clip where he talks about shifting our dominant frame:

People with charisma and warm, uplifting auras are a pleasure to be around, we are drawn to them like metal filings to a magnet. On the other hand, the moaning minnies of this world tend to repel both people and happy circumstances. They are caught in a perverse cycle of victimhood which makes it harder to manifest the life they want.

It’s like the crab that’s  trying to clamber out of the bucket, but is caught in the pincers of another crab who wants to hold him back and prevent him from escaping. The remaining crabs pull him back in, sealing their collective their fate. Only this time, the pincers pulling us downward are our mind, and sometimes other people. Great explanation of the crabs-in-a-bucket theory.

Helpful tips

  • Sometimes it can be useful to imagine we are shape-shifters, and metaphorically use the qualities of the creature best placed to deal with our current situation so that we can run with the challenge.
  • Learn to reinvent ourselves.
  • Balance our time between the external, fast paced world we live in and our precious inner world. Meditation is a great way to do this, as is playing a musical instrument, getting immersed in a hobby or time out in nature.
  • To live by our values and protect what we hold sacred, even in the face of troubles.
  • To be creative, go with the flow and have fun always lightens one’s burdens.
  • If we see ourselves and others with a sense of humour it balances our seriousness.
  • Live with humility in the present moment and be grateful for our blessings, for life is a privilege.
  • Learn to balance patience with action and always be bold and courageous to know that we can achieve whatever we set our minds on.

Rather than understanding the ancient philosophy and practice of alchemy and the nature of matter, we can be masters of the chemical impulses in our own brains. When we change our attitude we change ourselves, and it can happen for better or worse in an instant.

I thought I’d share Der Alchemist by Carl Spitzweg  complete with atmospheric chamber music that totally fits the painting and the ethos!

It’s how we handle our base emotions and thoughts that determine how much ‘gold’ we will convert. We can decide how we’re going to lead our lives, what legacy we’re going to leave the world, and if that isn’t true alchemy – I don’t know what is.

Ruminations on the Benefits of Meditation

“Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness.” ~ George MacDonald

Meditation is an ancient discipline. Sages, monks, and those seeking to understand the Self have been voyaging into the spirit for millennia. In this modern day and age many of us lead busy lives and don’t have the time it takes to master the traditional techniques, let alone practise the discipline on a regular basis in order to avail ourselves of the results it offers. Life can get so crazy sometimes.

Phra_Ajan_Jerapunyo-Abbot_of_Watkungtaphao.I’ve been through some pretty rough times in my life and there’s no doubt that for a while it was touch and go if I was going to make it.  Mentally and emotionally I was at rock bottom, and that’s when your thoughts can go really dark.  But I managed to pull myself up by my bootstraps (with some help), and in the midst of my woes I discovered meditation.  Or to be exact, the lazy person’s meditation system called Holosync. It still requires a small amount of discipline to actually listen to it on a regular basis, but the results are accelerated compared to sitting cross legged chanting “Om” for hours on end. I have been meditating for a decade now, and I’ve never regretted it – not once.

In fact, you could say that it’s rather a mental crutch for me, my hour of bliss at the end or start of a day. So many voices and tasks are vying for my attention, and under the daily onslaught I love to just shut everything out and go inwards for sixty minutes. Time for mindfulness is essential for all of us. Maybe you prefer a long walk in the countryside, or to play a musical instrument (I love that too), but nothing quite beats the feeling of peace and euphoria that the Holosync audio technology can induce in the brain. But for me it’s not just about creating a feeling of Zen for the duration of the CD, it’s about long term evolutionary growth.

brain impulsesMy own experiences have been mostly pleasurable, sometimes my mind would be in overdrive and feelings of anxiety would surface as Holosync temporarily pushed my nervous system beyond its capacity. Over time I felt lighter, and eventually mental and emotional baggage dropped away as it came into the light of my awareness.  I noticed I had more clarity, increased focus and concentration, more energy, I felt happier, had more awareness and a sense of inner peace. The occasional discomfort is worth it. For relatively short durations I would feel all at sea as my meditation created emotional upheaval, but I learnt to just witness my tumult, and I noticed over time that many of my dysfunctional behaviours ceased. That’s because we can’t act out behaviours that don’t serve us when we are conscious of them. The buried traumas and negative beliefs that are transparent to our conscious mind run on auto pilot, causing our self-sabotaging actions. We don’t know what we don’t know.

Buddha-quoteI can honestly say, now looking back at my progress with Holosync over the years, the most impactful improvement has been the lessening of feelings of fear and helplessness. I feel more in-tune with my soul. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my fair share of challenges, and I still have times when I’m feeling physically and mentally over-amped and antsy. But I feel that now those times are shorter and less intense, and I have increased resilience to overcome the problems I face. I’ve definitely become more creative since I started meditating.

I made the decision to join the Inner Circle and commit to listening to every level, and I’m now on disc 4 of Flowering Level 3, the journey is almost at an end. But, as Bill says, the changes are permanent, as the brain creates new neural pathways in the course of the programme, so it’s a solid foundation to build on.

There are four major categories of brain wave patterns (plus Gamma) that our brains are subject to at any given moment:


  • Beta – This is the most rapid pattern, (other than Gamma) the lower range governs normal waking consciousness, concentration, alertness, arousal, cognition, whereas the higher levels are associated with stress, anxiety and anger, fight or flight.
  • Alpha – The slower patterns of this state prevail when you are more relaxed, perhaps reading an engrossing book, watching movie, when you are in your ‘flow state’ and in the lower range of Alpha is the twilight zone just prior to sleep, a time of heightened creativity. Thomas Edison famously utilised this state to create his inventions.
  • Theta – Normally associated with dreaming sleep, increased creativity, super learning, integrated experiences, aha moments, lucid dreaming, visions and REM. Theta spikes aid belief, integrative and habit pattern changes. The brain makes lots of stress busting endorphins in Theta.
  • Delta – This is the brainwave pattern of deep, non-dreaming sleep. It’s a trance like state, where the brain emits human growth hormone (HGH), melatonin (a powerful antioxidant) and DHEA (which acts as a buffer to the stress hormone Cortisol) all of which aid longevity, reduce stress and enhance wellbeing.

For the first two years of Ruby’s life I probably averaged about 3-4 hours of sleep per night. I don’t think I could have functioned without the benefits that I had accrued with my meditation, both physically and emotionally.

New meditators start on the Awakening Prologue, and move on from there. In this support letter Bill explains the different levels and how long they take to complete: support letter

Centerpointe supply new customers with plenty of information about what to expect and how to use the technology, and they have a full support team there to talk to if you are having experiences that you don’t understand or are not sure what to make of. With each new level the carrier frequency is lowered so your brain is doing more work, just like an athlete improving their fitness and pushing their body to new limits.

meditation-quotes Osho

At the start, and at the beginning of each new level you listen for 30 minutes only for the first 14 days, this is The Dive part of the audio, consisting of pleasant chimes and crystal bowl tones, and then you progress to listening for the full hour, the second 30 minutes is called Immersion, and is evocative of sitting under a hut in tropical rain. It’s beautiful.  During Immersion you are taken into Theta and Delta brain waves. It’s hard to describe the wonderful feeling of being awake in Delta. On more than one occasion I had a profound mystical experience, which transcended anything anyone could have told me about.

brain_brainwavesBecause the brain communicates between both hemispheres as a result of meditating the mind evolves into whole brain functioning. Bill Harris likens whole brain thinking (rather than using only one hemisphere) to thinking in stereo. It’s the realm of genius!

I can only relate my experiences with Holosync as that’s the system I have been using. I don’t think I can put a price on my development, but as a member of the Inner Circle I was offered discounted pricing than if I had just paid as and when I progressed onto the next level, and I was able to pay this in affordable monthly installments. Check out their website for full details if you think it might be something you want to try. And no – I’m not on commission!!

A bit of background:

Bill Harris, the founder and CEO of Centerpointe was inspired to create Holosync when he read an article in Scientific American by researcher Dr. Gerald Oster of Mount Sinai medical Center in New York, written in 1973. The article was titled Auditory Beats in the brain, and it detailed how electrical brain wave patterns resonate to certain precise frequencies when presented with audio tones of certain frequencies. In the 80’s Harris studied the research of Nobel Prize Laureat Ilya Prigogine, into the evolution of complex systems (of which the mind is one) and how when entropy is increased it will force an open system to re-organise itself at a higher level of functioning to deal with the increased stimulus.

I could go through a long list of benefits, but they are all covered on the Centerpointe website. The health benefits of meditation have also been documented by Harvard Medical School.

Bill Harris explains the mental, emotional and physical benefits of Holosync:

I’d like to finish on one of my favourite poems, Samadhi by Paramhansa Yogananda, which for me, embodies the mystical and the divine:

I’m the sort of person who likes to push my boundaries and when it’s time for me to depart dear planet Earth I’d like to be able to look back without regret or recrimination and say I gave it my all, I lived life to the full.


“The Way to do is to be.” ~ Lao Tzu