I'm a passionate advocate of education for life, I think school is merely the start of our education and we should never stop learning, in fact I don't even think we should use the phrase 'leaving school', it' only serves to re-enforce a mindset that stops learning. We never leave school, we just simply progress to the next one.
My interests and areas of study are diverse and have changed over the years, as they should, we are constantly evolving and we should not be afraid to embrace that.
How bored and stagnant we would soon become, should we remain as we always have. Life cannot to be contained by fear or anything else for that matter, it will happen with or without your consent. Much better to be a willing explorer, free to roam as you choose, rather than a caged animal, pulled from place to place, to perform as others dictate.
I do not think there are 'right or wrong' things to study, just things that speak to you, arouse your interest and bring you joy. I've listed a few of mine below, they change constantly and there is no real end date to them, they are simply different ways to explore life, understand new perspectives, meet new people and be all that I can be.
I hope they can provide some inspiration for you too.
Brahma Kumaris is a worldwide spiritual movement, open to all, to help people transform their perspective of the world from material to spiritual. It supports the cultivation of a deep collective consciousness of peace and of the individual dignity of each soul.
I came across this movement just after I lost my father to cancer and was in the depths of grief - I felt totally lost and really quite desperate, I simply had no idea how I was going to continue my life without him in it. My friend suggested a retreat at one of the Brahma Kumaris centres in Oxfordshire, she thought it might help me make sense of the new world I was being presented with and it certainly did.
The retreats, like the courses and talks are all donation based, you pay as little or as much as you are able. I went on this retreat and was truly inspired by what I learnt and the openness with which you are invited to engage with it - there is no right or wrong, you can take as much or little as you want from the teachings and everything is given with great care, love and humility.
After the retreat I kept my eye on the movement and embarked upon their raj yoga mediation courses at the start of the year. Raj yoga is the mediation of the mind and the vehicle via which much of the spiritual teachings are delivered. Following these courses you are then able to join the daily 'Murli's' as often or as little as suits you. The point of the 'Murli's' is to simply discuss a particular challenge, or part of the spiritual teachings to help people use them in their everyday lives, in order to live in a more content and loving way.
There is much to learn, effectively is it never ending as this is a new way of seeing life and the challenges we are presented with. Right now I am studying with a wonderful teacher to refresh my understanding of some of the core principles, so that I can deepen my spiritual approach to life and hopefully make the world a little bit better in my own way.
There are many different centres for the movement around the world, I've popped the main website below should you wish to explore this further.
The diagnosis, treatment and subsequent death of my father from cancer was the single most traumatic experience of my existence to date - it took me to the very edge of my own life and upon my return inspired me to try and ensure others did not have to suffer such trauma in the wake of death.
Losing your loved ones is heartbreaking, there is no getting around that and I believe that grief itself is a fundamental part of the human experience and one that should be allowed to be, to flow and to move to it's own beat, in it's own time.
And whilst we cannot avoid death, loss and sadness, we can certainly reduce the level of trauma many people go through as a result of the fear and avoidance of talking about and understanding the process of death and grief.
As a society we are ill prepared to deal with death, it's often a taboo subject where honesty may be restricted in the false belief that the truth may dampen hope and have a negative impact on the remaining life of dying people and their family and loved ones. But I found the opposite to be true - it was the lack of information and transparency about my fathers illness that caused significant trauma for all of us. We were not prepared, we did not understand and no one was able to have the uncomfortable but so very necessary conversation with us to enable us to better support my father, each other and ultimately ourselves.
I genuinely believe that if we as a society can have more open and honest conversations around death, we can reduce much of the trauma which often pollutes our grief and support people to have better and more peaceful deaths. And so I have embarked upon my journey to become a soul midwife - just as we have midwives that help souls come into this world, so we have midwives that help souls depart this world. The soul midwifery school is run by a lady called Felicity Warner and this is what how her website describes the role of a soul midwife:
'Soul Midwives lovingly ease the passage of the dying, to ensure that death is a dignified and peaceful experience.
Soul Midwives regard every dying person as if he, or she, is the most important person in the world.
They offer a range of gentle therapies to soothe and reassure and are skilled advocates and advisors.
They are non-denominational in their pastoral support, encouraging deep conversation, with love and dignity.
Their work may begin from point of diagnosis and continue until the final day of life, with encouragement and support for living life fully, until the end.
Soul Midwives are helping to transform the personal and collective experiences of dying and living within the community, by helping anyone facing the end of life to experience a tender, peaceful and conscious death.'
If you would like to know more about this, I have popped the link to the website below:
At it's heart, the school is simply a place to help provide ideas and knowledge to help you make sense of life, to offer alternative perspectives, question, challenge and think.
There are 2 key courses that the school offers 'an introduction to philosophy' and 'economics with justice'. They are currently run on line, in small groups with plenty of time to debate, think and share perspectives with people from around the world. All of the tutors are volunteers and the cost of each course is minimal.
A hugely beneficial hour each week spent getting to know new people and think new thoughts.