The following article originally appeared in the Institute of Spiritualist Mediums "The Medium" Winter 2016 issue

“Mind the Gap”

In my daily working life, for one of my clients, I coach and train people with different abilities and impairments to report back on their experiences of using public transport. I am thus subjected to constant reminders from London Underground PA messages to “Mind the Gap”!

As I find Spirit often uses what it can find in my mind when I’m giving inspirational talks, writing articles or developing workshops, it was no surprise when I’ve found myself inspired to work with the words “Mind the Gap” on several occasions and in several ways over the past year or so.

I was delighted to be asked by the London Spiritual Mission (LSM) recently to undertake the Sunday morning Devotional service at Pembridge Place. As a platform medium, I find at many churches I’m often asked for a “short” address before clairvoyance and rarely have an opportunity to work for spirit on lengthier addresses.

A short while ago, the LSM reinstated the Devotional service where there are the usual hymns, prayers and readings and the medium then gives only an address, inspired by the readings. There is no clairvoyance; no evidence of survival. I’m a relative newcomer to and more recent developer of my mediumship work, so I never had the opportunity to witness the wonderful inspirational addresses given by Nan Mackenzie, Don Galloway, Marjorie Osborn and Ivy Northage, so fondly remembered by many LSM and ISM members.

Bear with me as I say that in some ways this is a blessing for me! Of course, I would dearly love to have benefited from the divine inspiration given by these mediums and might have made different choices and decisions along the way had I been more ‘spiritual’ in my earlier life. However, ignorance is bliss they say!.

Some of the opportunities that Spirit draw us to can be way out of our comfort zones. This is where the words “Mind the Gap” are so useful in my mediumship and coaching work. It is often a big stretch for us to get from where we perceive ourselves to be right now to where we want to be. By changing how we think and feel about something we can change what we do in order to bridge the gap and achieve outcomes desired.

A devotional service initially sounded rather daunting, but I trusted that Spirit would not have put this invitation my way if I was incapable of handling it.

Those of you who have read my previous articles over the past year or so will know that as an NLP practitioner and personal development coach, I use a wide range of tools and techniques to help people face challenging circumstances by changing how they view themselves, conquering fear caused by previous or lack of experience and empower, motivate and inspire them to take the steps towards their goals. It truly is amazing what’s possible when we put our minds to it, as attendees at a Mind the Gap spiritual workshop I ran at Woodford recently found out. We worked with spirit to discover our authentic selves so that we could align mind, body and soul to reduce the gap between where we are now and, by using Mind the Gap tools, to successfully be the change we want to see in our world.

I also recently ran a Dream Connection to Spirit workshop at the ISM Romford meeting during which we were shown how we can be inspired by Spirit whilst asleep to create solutions to challenges we face in our physical and spiritual lives whilst we dream.

Less than three weeks before the LSM Devotional I was asked at short notice to step into an acting role when the player experienced an unsuccessful knee operation and was unable to continue. Until recently, I hadn’t acted on stage for more than 12 years, but by setting an intention before I went to sleep, I asked for guidance from an experienced actress to help me learn my lines and inspire my performance whilst I slept. I learned my lines almost overnight, confident that I could feel my actress guide with me and was able to deliver a credible performance during three nights of “Be Lucky” two weeks later. There are life-changing reasons why I wanted to do this for Redbridge Drama Centre which helped me to Mind the Gap, face the fear and do it anyway (to quote Susan Jeffers!).

Two days after Be Lucky’s last night, I was on platform for the Devotional – the readings were about Inspiration and Fear. The night before I’d asked for a spirit guide or helper to connect with me in my dreams and inspire me for the following day’s address. I know it was this dream guide who inspired me during the Devotional and we were able to deliver the words of philosophy, upliftment and encouragement most needed through a combination of light trance inspiration and spirit using what could also be found in my mind regarding overcoming fear and seeking inspiration to be the change we want in our worlds.

©Stephanie Barrows

October 2016

The following article originally appeared in the Institute of Spiritualist Mediums "The Medium" Winter 2015 issue

“To Sleep: Perchance to Dream…?”

As one who has struggled to get sufficient sleep for many years, I’ve realised this may be because I have a busy work life and find it hard to justify 7-9 hours sleep per night when I don’t have enough hours in my waking day. During a meditation with my guides a year or so ago, however, I was inspired to consider a very important ‘what if?

What if it were possible to work during our sleeping hours? Inspired by my guides, I have recently brought together a lot of my studies into sleep, dreams and lucid dreaming to see how we can develop tools to achieve our physical and spiritual goals more quickly and easily by utilising our time in the dream world / on the astral plane.

We need deep sleep to repair our muscles and bones, rebalance our hormones etc. This occurs when our brains operate at Delta wave (slow rhythm). We have several cycles of deep (non-REM) sleep, interspersed with periods of lighter/faster Theta wave sleep known as REM (rapid eye movement) which is largely when we dream. We are also most receptive to connection to our higher selves, intuition and spirit when our brains operate at Theta level, e.g. whilst meditating, daydreaming or working mediumistically.

During the early stages, REM only occurs for about 5-10 mins between 90 min non-REM cycles. After about 6 hours we usually experience two much longer REM cycles of about 50 mins each. It is during this period when it is easiest to achieve lucid dreaming, i.e. it’s possible to become aware you are dreaming and you can consciously direct your dream.

Paralysis occurs during sleep to prevent us from acting out dreams. However the diaphragm is not paralysed so that we continue to breathe. Our eyes also remain unaffected. On April 12 1975 at 08.00 scientist Keith Hearne had been watching fellow scientist Alan Worsley sleep overnight whilst he was connected to an EEG to prove we can be consciously awake inside our dreams. The EEG registered that Worsley had entered REM and moments later, Worsley moved his eyes through a series of pre-agreed left/right patterns to convey that he was conscious in his dreams. He was lucid dreaming and directing his eyes in his dream!

As spiritualists, we know that we receive communication from our guides and loved ones whilst dreaming. When we dream lucidly our potential is unlimited. So what if we direct our dreams to ask spirit to help us find solutions to problems, experiment with inventions, create music and art? Paul McCartney was purportedly inspired to write “Let it Be” after a conversation with his mother in a dream. At 22 he composed “Yesterday” after waking with the melody running through his mind. In the dream world (which overlaps with the Astral plane) we can fly, shape-shift, levitate objects etc. at will and we are unbound by time. So who could you connect to in Spirit who might guide you whilst you sleep? Many novelists such as Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein and Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde have been inspired whilst dreaming. Elias Howe perfected the ‘overlocking’ sewing machine when he dreamed he was stabbed by natives and saw the spears had holes in their blades: a turning point in the history of mass clothes-making.

The key is to set intents just before going to sleep and repeat an affirmation three times e.g. “I am lucid whilst dreaming”, or “I dream and recall my dreams when waking”. Using the neuro-linguistic programming principle that “whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right”, repeatedly telling ourselves we can do something in the present tense over time attracts opportunities to do it. Having pen and paper to hand and not moving from the waking position so that you can instantly record the people seen, messages received and what you are feeling, enables you to remember the dream/connection before it is lost.

As a medium and coach, working with people to help them turn their physical and spiritual dreams into reality, I’ve recently set dreaming intents myself to connect to spirit to ask if I’m on the right path, how I would know I’m connected to spirit in dreams and also for inspiration to write this article. In my lucid dreams, I see a diamond before spirit appears to stand out brighter against the background dream. I was given the title “To sleep: perchance to dream…?”. a line from Hamlet’s soliloquy by Shakespeare. As synchronicities often confirm spiritual guidance, I was thrilled to receive a message from a medium the next day that spirit was aware of my dream work and pleased with this progress. When I opened the curtains the very next day after a good night’s dreamtime I saw a delivery van outside bearing the sign “Dreams”!

©Stephanie Barrows October 2015

The following article originally appeared in the Institute of Spiritualist Mediums "The Medium" Autumn 2015 issue

Inspirational Guidance and Air Traffic Control!

Do you know who your guide(s) is/are? What do you think a spiritual guide is? A divine being, an angel, a deceased relative, a teacher, someone we know from a previous life or maybe don’t even know? I believe the answer is Yes to any or all of these and more, but also every individual here on the earth plane will have a different experience with guides and has the free will to believe in their existence or not, and to work with them as they wish. But let me suppose that you believe, as I do, that when we arrive from the spirit world to take our place in the Earth school, we will have had a plan for the lessons we need to learn for our spiritual progression. However, the great majority of us who make that journey will pass through the veil of amnesia and forget our reason for being here as we incarnate.

Even if unaware of them, we each have at least one main spiritual guide who walks with us every step of our Earthly journey from birth. More may join us as we get older and need specific spiritual guidance throughout our lives. They know it’s challenging to live on the physical plane and keep a connection to our higher selves and our soul purposes. Their role is to consistently guide us by little intuitive pushes in the direction of the resources, people, knowledge and experience we need to reach our spiritual goals, whilst providing comfort, upliftment and encouragement when we need it. Think synchronicity!

However our guides will only help if we ask and on the condition that their guidance will help us accomplish and achieve the purpose that we set for ourselves during this lifetime.

Early on when I sat in circle, we did lots of exercises to connect with our guides and to receive their communication. We were also encouraged to meditate alone regularly and connect with our guides. I did and was initially aware of a guide who identified himself as Baba. I look upon him as the ‘boss’ of the triumvirate whom I’m now aware make up my main spiritual guide team (there are others). I’ve since learned that Baba means Father and I often feel his presence above my head in this capacity. He keeps me safe when I’m working spiritually and nudges me back on track in life.

Shortly thereafter I was aware of a second guide whom I believe is my main guide and I sense stands on my right. His name sounded like Mahjrick. Unbeknown to me then Mahdrich is the name for a Jewish guide or teacher! I usually see him as a Merlin or druid figure. He is here for me to help ‘bring back the old ways’ (more later). Angeline, I see as a gentle Sister of Mercy who stands on my left and is my healing ‘angel’. If I’m unwell she gently asks if I need healing. I’m also aware that she helps me to send healing energy where it is needed for others. Baba and Mahjrick show themselves in different forms at different times. Baba normally wears an orange turban and looks like a Raj. At other times, especially when he’s teaching me a lesson, he appears in Western business suit. Mahjrick also appears as an orthodox Jewish man, particularly before I give inspired addresses or workshops. Some people never see their guides or know their names. I asked and was told. I’m a visual/kinaesthetic learner and communicator and Spirit recognises and uses this to raise my awareness.

‘Bringing back the old ways’ I’ve since learnt from my guides means to help those on Earth to realise their spiritual connection and soul purpose, to learn the physical lessons of ego and intuition necessary for our spiritual growth and to work in harmony with Mother Nature to leave this world a better place for the benefit of those who follow. Part of my soul purpose is to work with Spirit and provide evidence that we are spirit encased in human form and there is life after physical life on Earth when we return to the spirit world. By setting my intent to work only for the highest purpose and with positive energy, I am blessed to be used as a medium for inspirational guides who wish to address us on philosophical subjects. I am also used by spirit communicators who wish to contact their loved ones on Earth. I’m not sure who my guides are when working in this way and I believe it varies (I recognise the energies of some and not others). Spirit also have lessons to learn and some may wish to work through different mediums to gain experience. 

I don’t walk around ‘open’ to spirit communication 24/7. My guides respect this and know when I’m open or it’s appropriate to get my attention. When I first developed mediumistically, I felt my ears pricking (like a deer sensing danger!) and/or I would get an intense vibration in my ears. Spirit’s thankfully turned it down now I’m more aware when they draw close!

When I tune into the spiritual radiowaves, my guide acts as a sort of air traffic control and protector. So I work directly with the communicators as the guide allows them close to me. Other mediums get the information passed to them from the communicators via their guides.

I work claircognisantly (clear knowing or thoughts telepathically from Spirit), clairsentiently (where I feel the emotions and conditions spirit place upon me, perhaps tastes and smells too), and clairaudiently - I’m often given the names of songs or a few words/lines I need to pass on or Spirit calls out names. Clairvoyance where I see spirit in front of me is rare. I usually sense a hazy outline near the recipient, but 99% of the time I feel sensations on different parts of my head which tell me whether my communicator is male/female, their relationship to the sitter and e.g. how long since they passed to Spirit.

So, a very brief insight into how I’ve agreed to work with my guides. How could you work best with yours to achieve your life goals? may provide inspiration.

©Stephanie Barrows July 2015

The following article originally appeared in the Institute of Spiritualist Mediums "The Medium" Summer 2015 issue

I’m no angel…

I clearly remember at about 6 or 7 years old pondering “what’s my life purpose… what do I want to achieve in life”? Even then, as a very shy child (although one who desperately wanted to be an angel in the Nativity play, but was always overlooked!), I somehow knew I wanted to make a difference. Fast forward around 40 years and I realised with the help of my spiritual guides that I’m here as an enabler. No queen bee role for me ­- more a king-maker who helps others turn their dreams and ideas into reality. But more of that later....

Always intuitive I just ‘knew’ things I’d no way of explaining. Lost something? I’d often ‘see’ where it was located. Does this go hand-in-hand with my photographic memory - who knows? Do I perhaps instinctively tap into that cosmic database, the Akashic Records, where every thought and deed is recorded?

I believe everyone has psychic abilities. Like athletes, however, we need to exercise our psychic muscle to perform to our best ability. It takes practice to tune into our higher selves and spirit and to intuitively recognise different energies/vibrations. I therefore believe all mediums are psychic but not all psychics are mediums.

As a spiritual medium, I trust that (with me) spirit works mostly via clairsentience or clair-knowing. I feel or sense what spirit wishes me to know and I’m telepathically aware of their thoughts so that I see images in my mind and understand their messages. I hear snatches of songs and words too (clairaudience). Some of my fellow mediums say they would die of fright if they saw spirit. I used to feel that way about clairvoyance until recently too!

Around 10 years old, I was wide awake alone one night when I heard a voice. I turned and saw an older girl in a Victorian nightgown and rags in her hair reflected in the mirror, but not standing in front of it. She spoke to me. Terrified, I pulled the covers over my head till morning! Even though my grandmother was a medium and her parents before her, I didn’t want to talk to ‘dead’ people. I continued to block out spirit contact for the next 30+years. In the past year or so, however, after working mediumistically for about 10 years, I’ve told spirit I’m happy to see as well as hear them and have been blessed to do so more often.

Now to (mis)quote Shakespeare, “some are born great… some have greatness thrust upon them”. When we ignore the call of spirit, or veer too far from our chosen path in this physical realm, we often find ourselves facing crises or events that jolt us back on course. My ‘crisis’ happened when I became seriously ill following a virus. Weeks of staring at the wall gave me time out to re-evaluate what was important to me in my life.

I gave up a secure, well-paid job in management consulting and became a ‘portfolio’ freelancer. Over the past 15 years I’ve created and run events, been an actor, writer, trainer, coach and spiritual medium. I listened to my intuition and trusted that, with freewill to accept it, what was right for me wouldn’t pass me by. I’ve simultaneously undertaken training and studies to support these concurrent ‘careers’ and they’ve ever since brought me whatever I’ve needed at just the right time.

Through acting I became friends with a lovely medium called Diane. Shortly after, in my training work, I found myself walking past Woodford Spiritualist Church several times. Having never even attended a Spiritualist service, I was drawn to join Susan Griffith’s Open then Closed Circle, initially out of curiosity and academic interest. Within months, I was not only aware of my guides, Baba, Mahjrick and Angeline, but took to mediumship like a duck to water. It wasn’t long before I was out on platform and giving readings all over London and the Home Counties, initially invited to accompany the highly entertaining medium, Reg Golding, and very soon getting lots of my own bookings. It was Reg who encouraged me to undertake the ISM’s RAM qualification a few years later.

The ISM is rigorous in supporting mediums to be the best they can be, ensuring that fledglings (as mediums applying for RAM are called) give solid evidence of their spiritual communicators, are not working psychically when giving messages and are inspired by spirit when giving philosophical addresses. I underwent several demonstration assessments in front of the Committee and, with their constructive feedback, achieved firstly Intermediate, then, after completing the written tests and final assessment, was awarded full Registered Approved Mediumship status within a couple of years.

Having certificates and diplomas, as well as experience and contacts, opens up many opportunities. My acting connections have allowed me to do fundraiser evenings of clairvoyance at Redbridge Drama Centre and for the Mayor of Redbridge at Ilford Town Hall, bringing evidence of life after life in an entertaining way to people who maybe wouldn’t attend church services. 

The RAM adds gravitas to my coach for spirit work where I work alongside people to identify and achieve their life’s purpose, as well as invitations to run workshops on many aspects of spiritual and mediumship development. Acting brought me many different roles in training videos. My subsequent coaching and NLP diplomas and certification help me train and coach both able-bodied and disabled people to assess and report accessibility in various situations so they can make a difference to their own and others’ lives. This inspired me to create my business: the next stage in supporting people wishing to turn their lifelong and heartfelt dreams / ideas for change into reality. So what’s next for me? Well, I’m still no angel… but it’s high on my To Do list!

©Stephanie Barrows April 2015