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Finding Meaning in Life

by Sherry Marshall

wave breaking light T

The meaning in life is to discover the meaning.’

Often we ask ourselves, ‘why am I here? What is my purpose? We want to do something meaningful with our life. People have different opinions about what the meaning of life is. They include happiness, love, giving to others, family, work, travel etc. Finding meaning in life is something that often unfolds and cannot be forced. Sometimes we just know what it is, whereas others search for it. The journey to discover meaning in itself can give us meaning. The path is also the result.
However, when we have certain expectations and ideas about how our life should be and the reality is different, we can feel disappointed and frustrated.

I am interested in exploring the deeper levels of what this question actually mean to us? It can feel we have meaning when we live more consciously. We explore awareness and deep connection with ourselves and others and experience a rich inner and outer life. For others, it’s more connected to their outer purpose in their work life or family and community. It’s a different process for everyone.


‘The meaning in life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.’       Pablo Picasso

What inspires us and gives us purpose and meaning is often a signal or clue to the meaning sitting underneath. What we love to do or feel passionate about is the key.  Sometimes we just need to follow something without even knowing why.  In Process Oriented Psychology, it is called our secondary process, the unknown part of us. Our rational thinking mind needs reasons to do something. However if we just trust our process and follow, afterwards we often say,’ ‘it was my destiny, it gave me meaning.’
Sometimes we have a talent, but we don’t realise it eg. being able to easily relate to children or draw. We seek for meaning yet don’t recognise and therefore don’t utilise our innate abilities because we take them for granted.  Others see it in us yet we continue to search rather than picking up our own process.

We also have a tendency to ignore or marginalise certain thoughts and feelings. A simple example is that we wake up one morning and feel that we need to call a particular friend. We forget or just don’t phone them. However, if we do call, they say, ‘Oh I am going to listen to a talk given by Dr. Arnold Mindell. Do you want to come with me?’ We go and it can change our life.

“When we are motivated by goals that have deep meaning, by dreams that need completion, by pure love that needs expressing, then we truly live life.”
Greg Anderson


I have at times, ‘thrown caution to the winds’ which is not my primary identity! It is more unknown to me. I came to live in Australia and when people in England asked me why, the only answer I could give was that ‘the land called me.’ I didn’t even know what it meant back then. I also travelled to a Buddhist monastery in India hoping that my teacher would be there and I could stay for three months. I went without asking. It worked out exactly how I had hoped, but for someone like me who is a planner and very organised, it seems amazing that I would do that.
People feel that when they don’t know the meaning of their life, that they should know. Actually, often the not knowing is the exciting part, if we can be open to explore and learn more about ourselves.

You could ask yourself the following, if you are looking for more meaning;

  1. Do you feel unfulfilled and is there something missing in your life? What could that be? Don’t disregard what you find, even if it initially makes no sense. Trust your process.
  2. Pay more attention to your inner world and dreaming.
  3. Achieving more sometimes gives us meaning but we can also feel stressed and under pressure. Being in the present moment and appreciating what we are doing right now can help us get in touch with what makes us more contented.

“We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there, too.”   Kristin Martz

You can read an extract on this website of Sherry’s book, ‘A Search for Meaning. Connecting with Buddhist Teachers’ and buy her book at;


 Read More on The Meaning of Life below by Process Oriented Psychology

Guest Columnists

Lessons from the South of France by Rho Sandberg.

Rho Sandberg 1

Have you ever thought you’re pushing too hard?   If you drive yourself, chances are you’re pushing others as well.  Usually the two are connected.

Having our foot permanently on the accelerator results in chronic change fatigue and burnout.  As an organisational development consultant, I see individual leaders and organisations spinning their wheels.

Perhaps the problem stems from Isaac Newton’s first law which suggests that in order to create movement or progress, we need to act on something with a force, greater than any resistance we may encounter.  But have you ever noticed that the more you push, all you seem to achieve, apart from tiring yourself out, is resistance and frustration?

If you’re like me and were raised on Newtonian logic, to suggest that we can achieve great things without such strain is almost heretical.  But several years ago I realised that most of the significant growth in my company came when I stepped back from routine meetings and endless email and started to reconnect with what I really love.  I began to notice not only what’s important for me, but what matters to my clients and future generations.  A deeper sense of leadership emerged.

I’m still amazed to find that when I get out of the way and let life speak to me, opportunities start to open up.  New clients and contracts that fascinate and challenge me, seem to emerge out of the blue.


Currently I am in the South of France, where people seem to understand the importance of taking time out, of being in, rather than isolated from life.

The midday meal and l’heur de la siete (or siesta) epitomise a rhythm that allows time for the fruits of our labours to ripen.  Not only the meal, but experiences and ideas are digested enough to discern their merit.  Not surprisingly life is more enjoyable.

We fall into the trap of busy work when we lose connection with our vision and deepest guiding principles.  If we’re to discover sustainable ways of running our organisations and living our lives, it’s important to understand the genuine source of our power and potential.

For me change becomes plausible when we experience a different way of being.  That’s why I’m now running leadership development program in Provence, so that leaders can reconnect with life and discover their mission.  In my experience when we connect deeply with our sense of meaning, we get more done, with less strain, for ourselves and for others.

by Rho Sandberg. (M.Org Change & Conflict Facilitation, M.Cog.Sc. B.App.Sc. Dip.Couns.)
Rho is the founding prinicpal of CLE Consulting and works as an organisational consultant and executive coach and is also trained as a mediator and psychotherapist.


 Finding the Destiny Path 

by Gill Brierley and Sara Hollwey

guest pw article the inner camino

How many of us have asked this question of what is our purpose  and meaning in life? Have we ever wondered what is our calling that makes our hearts sing? How many have asked if we had one guiding principle that informs all that we do, what might that be? We often ask these questions around choosing a particular career, but a life purpose or calling is far bigger than that. It can be likened to finding the underlying melody to our life’s tune and provides the framework under which all our momentary intentions can find a home.

Since time began, the world has been unpredictable and constantly in a change process, whether through on-going evolution, war, natural disasters, economic collapse We may seek to create outer stability and maintain the status quo in a universe where the only predictable element is that change is constant. Indeed, most of us have a common desire for safety, a need to achieve and a striving for happiness that may seem at odds with the universal law of impermanence. Everything we encounter, every miserable meanness and unhappiness, is the very compost out of which we can learn and grow.

This book will help us cross a threshold from self-limiting belief systems that may be trying to hold back the inevitable tides of change. It aims to develop an inner steadfastness, and a sophisticated level of imagination. This makes us flexible enough to challenge deep-rooted habits and beliefs and embrace change fearlessly. When we work out of Intuitive Consciousness, we develop a strong sense of self-belief and self-love, which is the foundation stone for intuitive wisdom. From there, we can embrace the unknown and welcome change. The Inner Camino encourages us to tap into a stream of awakened consciousness that can access an inner wisdom so simple and practical, it is absurd we are not picking it up more intentionally as a daily practice.


It is often the case that we ‘awaken’ to more existential questions in moments of crisis. For some of us it is through financial disaster, for others around loneliness or losing those we love through serious illness. The rest of the time there is a desire to cling to some certainty, some safety and sense of life as being predictable, even if we dislike the version of life that we have dealt ourselves, better that, than face the unknown. But why wait until some crisis hits us, before ‘waking up’.

We are so focused on the outer world as a way of controlling our inner states that we miss the essential point. Happiness, contentment and finding meaning are internal and experiential states. In order to attain these, we need to target this experiential realm, and discover a level of consciousness within us that can rise above whatever is happening in the outer realm of form. What we need is a genie that not only rises from the lamp and says ‘Your wishes are my command’, but teaches us how to become the genie itself.  It is time to wake up to the mystical world and inner wisdom that seems to remain tantalizingly elusive, beyond our grasp. Let us step for a moment out of the hurly-burly chaos that has become ‘normal’ life, rise and survey the battleground of the ordinary world from the luminous field of stars above.

The Inner Camino takes the reader on a heroic journey of awakening within. It initiates an extraordinary expedition, both deep into our own psychology, and to the heights of our numinous potential, our mystical capacities.


“After years of studying and working together professionally we both reached a limit or ‘glass ceiling’. We found that most of our existing psychological models did not fully reflect the esoteric wisdoms of many spiritual traditions. Equally our commitment to the rigour of daily eastern and western spiritual practices did not transform our most persistent old triggers.”

The numinous realm and psychological science needed a reliable bridge that would straddle these two essential parts of our existence. The Inner Camino is about such a bridge between these two worlds, to hold in perfect balance all that we had discovered about ourselves in psychological science and of all that we had garnered as a result of the wisdoms of spiritual practice. It charts the path we take to reconnect reliably to our intuitive wisdom that can link the worlds of the mundane and the numinous.

The more steadily we can walk this camino or bridge between these two landscapes, without slipping to one side or the other, the more we can deepen what we have termed our Intuitive Consciousness. This is the source of our greatest wisdom. Connecting with this higher level of consciousness brings us fully present in the now. It takes a fearlessness to trust that will ultimately connect us to a bigger picture which sits in a far greater context.

Read more about the book at or buy at

Sara Hollway, Reg.Psychol.Ps.S.I; I.A.H.I.P; I.A.C.P; dipl.PW) is currently working as a clinical psychologist in the School of Psychology at University College Dublin and in private psychotherapy and supervision practice.
Jill  Brierley (UKCP; dipl.PW;) is currently working as a supervisor and psychotherapist.

Note: The outer journey of the Camino de Santiago or ‘The Way of St. James’ refers to walking the over 1000 kilometre pilgrimage routes through Europe that all lead to the catherdral city in Northwest Spain. This route has been travelled over the last 1200 years.  At deeper levels, it becomes a spiritual journey and ultimately is an analogy for life.

For more information on the pilgrimage, you may wish to check out


Also check out the following websites for more information on Process Oriented Psychology.

  • Deep Democracy Institute.  
  • International Association, Process Oriented Psychology
  • Process Oriented Psychology Australia and New Zealand.
  • Process Work Institute.  USA.
  • Worldwork/Groupwork         


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