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Queen / King and Council

Sometimes we can take life too personally. We might feel we are taking too much on, or, conversely, that we are losing out on something, that we’ve been passed over, or we feel victimised. Generally, we can lose our objectivity about our place in the world. A practice that can help with this is called ‘King and Council’. I was taught it by Ty Powers, a wonderful meditation teacher.

It involves imagining that, instead of you being just one person and taking responsibility for everything in your life, you are a king or queen with your ministers around you, or, if you prefer, the chairman of a board or a committee. You are still ultimately in charge of ‘You’ but seated around the table are various individuals who are responsible for each aspect of your life.

The council might include the following:

· Minister for Home Affairs who is responsible for domestic duties in your house and garden.

· First Lord of the Treasury (or Chancellor) who reminds you that things must be paid for and how the bank balance is faring.

· Minister for Sports and Recreation responsible for keeping fit, holidays, and hobbies.

· Foreign Secretary who is responsible for your dealings with family and friends

· Health Secretary who ensures you don’t take undue risks, keep taking the tablets, and watch the diet.

· Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, which I hope is self-explanatory.

· Secretary for Defence who is looking out for any threats and ready to man the barricades.

· Education Minister, responsible for improving your mind with reading and other worthwhile pursuits.

Most important perhaps is not a minister as such but someone who attends ex officio. This is the Court Jester, sometimes known in Shakespeare as the ‘Fool’. They are there specifically to remind you of the absurdity of life and to ensure that you see the funny side of everything.

The key is that they all have an opinion, and your job as the king or queen is to make sure they can all be heard, one at a time, quietly, and without interruption. You are then able to consider the different opinions and make a judgment. They all need the space to be heard but they don’t get the final say—you do!

So if the First Lord of the Treasury is telling us sternly “we can’t afford that holiday” we can just say calmly “thank you, we will take that on board, what does the Minister for Sports and Recreation have to say?” They might make the point that you haven’t had a holiday for a year, and you need a break. You might then suggest that the health secretary voices their opinion. And so on. You can play around with the different roles and responsibilities and remember, if you do make a hash of it, the jester will sneak up behind you on your throne to remind you to laugh at yourself and move on.

Why not give it a go? If nothing else, in a crisis it will take so long to hear all those opinions you are less likely to make a rash and unskilful judgement. Like my parents used to say: “Count to a hundred before you react”. I never did of course!

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