Phil Gardner



“I’m going to take a little walk, through them fields.
I’m going to carry me gently so my heart can heal.
I’m going to find me a demon, in a dark, dark wood,
You can’t come with me, I wish you could.”

Gregory Hoskins

These lines speak to me of what it has been like to learn how to nurture myself in a wholesome way. Before I did, all I knew was finding the demons in the darkness and feeling terribly alone. I was a sensitive kid. And I carried no armor. Everything penetrated deeply and I didn’t fully understand why people didn’t want to talk about uncomfortable feelings or thoughts. I walked through life very alone. I became very introverted, depressed, addicted to marijuana and disillusioned with life by the time I’d left school.

I started to search for answers, and my search took me into all sorts of jobs (construction, hotels, care homes, farms, animal sanctuaries, scuba diving centers, charities, factories) and all kinds of places (Europe, Asia, Africa, South America). I had no idea where I was going or what I should do…life just kept throwing up opportunities and I kept saying yes, even though the last thing I really wanted to do was to keep leaving my comfort zones.

I thought I just wanted to find my way home.

I ended up teaching environmental education, then using sustainable development practices for the developing world, then helping run a children’s home on the Thai/Burmese border. But in each of these places, I started to notice something really wrong. I started to see that even though it seemed like I was doing something beneficial, I was still carrying wounds, and acting from and speaking from and feeling life through those wounds. I was essentially bringing my wounded self into the world and all those around me.

Even with my spiritual practices, Vipassana retreats, daily meditation, trying to be compassionate and loving, trying to walk the Earth without hurting anyone or anything,

I noticed the sense of quiet desperation that underlay everything in my life; the nervous system always on high alert; the constant efforting to be good enough, to not be wrong or bad, to fit in, to ‘earn a living’ (the most insulting statement to any human being), and the deadness of my life. I was only feeling a fraction of the spectrum of emotion and only aiming for happiness, comfort and security. I would tremor whenever someone was angry with me, and I would carry heaviness with me for weeks when I felt criticized.

After burning myself out in Aisa, I returned to Europe and eventually life offered a place in Portugal that encouraged me to slow down. To essentially take stock, stop trying to acheive and be productive, and just sit in the unknown for a while, without an idea of the future. I still kept searching

That is when the Living Inquiries came dancing into view. The mythologist and storyteller, Martin Shaw says “Stirring your pen in your wound and calling it art is not enough.” He was referring to the need also for the alchemy of old…turning the lead of your wounds into the gold of your gifts. In other words, As James Hillman might say, finding your genius amidst your pathology. And that’s where the Inquiries came in for me. I no longer needed to do this alone…someone could guide me at first, without interpreting anything through their own lenses of experience, and bring out the wisdom inherent in my own body. And then, after practice, I could guide myself and become my own loving, caring, non-judgemental, nurturing parent.

My intention at the moment, is to connect deeply with everyone I meet…fully allowing of whatever shows up in them, and in me; being a nurturing parent when needed, and a loving companion otherwise.

I hope to see you soon, to create a space between us that is fully accepting of all that is inside, so that within those wounds, that darkness, those traumas of old, we can find something that is illuminated, something that nourishes and nurtures the world, and something that we carry with reverence rather than shame.

“I want to express my gratitude and appreciation for the work Phil has done with me. With skill and kindness throughout the sessions, Phil has helped me to learn how to slow down and to be curious with my own looking. Safety and trust don’t come easy to me and with Phil I feel safe and trusting and that has allowed me to go deep. After our sessions I feel more peaceful and with a sense of deep connection with myself. I have continuous benefits from the work we have done together, I become more mindful and more able to deal with physical discomfort and fear. I would recommend Phil as a facilitator to whom may wish to have a more human pace and to savour life”. FF

“When Phil facilitates me in the Living Inquiries process, I can go deep into the heart of a painful event, an event that is too scary to explore on my own, and because there is a lot of shame associated with it, it is also very scary to let anyone else see. But Phil’s presence is a safe space as he gently asks questions that guide me to my inner knowing so I can rest with what I’m seeing and feeling. At times, there is this openness and spaciousness that unfolds with a wave of relief and then quietly dissolves without any fanfare, but with a resonance of calm. I am very grateful that Phil is in my life, that the Living Inquiries is in my life and that I allow both Phil and this process in my life.” KL

“Phil demonstrates innate sensitivity, attentive listening, open alert curiosity and his natural propensity for leadership. I have watched Phil work harmoniously one-on-one and in group formats passionately exploring deep human issues. He readily encourages others from compassion and models accountability for his own participation and involvement in each encounter. He is a trusted and skilled facilitator.

Presently we are members of a group developing programs to bring the Living Inquiries work to 4-12 year old children. Phil is creative and receptive. On his own initiative he has written the first draft of a children’s book to bring this work of emotional exploration to young kids. The book is based in nature, where he feels very much at home.
Whether as a facilitator or client, he is a beacon of grounded integrity and authenticity. He is honest and easy to be with. Though quiet at times, he recognizes nuances in explorative conversations and effortlessly gives voice to deeper threads. He demonstrates his strong commitment to truth and is always porous to experiencing living from fullness and depth. Phil’s sincere willingness to explore the unknown internal emotional landscape of being is on-going and fearless, whether alone or in a group.
He is self-motivated and mature with an earnest and gentle spirit. He arrives to calls on time ready and prepared. He is diligent, expresses well verbally and writes beautifully.
Phil is an asset to himself and the world. His gifts are many and far-reaching. I highly recommend him.” MW

“I have been fortunate to know and work with Phil for the last two years. He brings great integrity and care to his sessions, and brings an ability to meet you where you are in a way that makes you feel seen and heard. It is a sort of witnessing that can heal. Whether it’s a story that’s been relived and told many times before, or the story of a long, lost part of you that wants to surface, he has a way of being with you like very few. A way of calling on those parts of you, long lost from light, to surface, finding a trusting travel companion willing to walk beside, gifting you with a true sensing into what it means to be met, to be held, to be okay! An okayness that informs those parts of you longing to say hello, longing for conversation, longing to come home. Phil has an ability to hold space with a steady, unshakeable gaze, gifting those parts of you with a greeting committee that not only says, hello and welcome, but welcome to be just as you are. A gentle, caring, compassionate heart with skill.” JS