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The KEY Questions: What does it mean to be present?

23 April 18

I had never had an anxiety attack.

Naturally enough I’d coached plenty of clients who had, and I’m reasonably sure I’d helped them through their various emotional crises, nearly always managing to find a way to reconnect them with their innate wellbeing. I know because they told me so. As for myself, if I thought about it at all I guess I assumed it couldn’t happen to me. So when the pain in my chest showed up, out of the blue and most definitely uninvited, I immediately came to the conclusion, as I presume most people do, that my heart was about to give up the ghost.

I was driving at the time, so had to pull over. Too late to ‘take back’ the thought that I might be suffering a heart attack, my physiology duly obeyed my psychology by manifesting a pain in my left arm. That of course confirmed the diagnosis, leading to the firm belief that I had only moments to live. I called my wife on the pretext that I needed a lift to get to the hospital, but really to tell her that I loved her and to kiss the kids for me. She came at once and we raced to A and E. I sat in the passenger seat sweating profusely as the pain increased, wondering if I was going to make it to the hospital alive.

You already know how the story ends. The doctor who checked me over told me I had the heart of an ox. There was no trauma there, and if my blood pressure was a little raised that was only the result of my imagination running away with me like a galloping horse. What I had suffered was simply a panic attack, scary and unpleasant but ultimately harmless. It was a sobering moment. I realised that all those years I had spent helping people in the aftermath of their own attacks (many times described in great detail) had somehow not prepared me for having the exact same experience.

I could tell you about some of the things that had been weighing heavily on my mind that morning, outward circumstances that could arguably have triggered the attack, but it wouldn’t mean a thing. Life is a contact sport and reading this you will have your own set of personal trials that it has thrown your way. Take your pick. It happened, and as with all experience, I am a little wiser.

In the course of my work as a transformational coach I talk a lot about being present, about the value of living our lives in the moment, unencumbered by a past that never existed and a future that never arrives. Embracing this eternal ‘now’ is the most productive as well as the most spiritually nourishing way to live. And, a little paradoxically, nothing makes you feel more in touch with the present moment than thinking you’re about to die, (which incidentally explains why many people embark on a spiritual journey after a brush with their own mortality).

So how am I wiser? Like the majority of us, I struggle to maintain this sense of the ‘here and now’, even as I teach the understanding to others. It’s called being human. But I know that Mind has a foolproof way of pointing us in the right direction, whatever the circumstances of our lives, and I have no doubt that this little episode in my life was one of those signposts. A worry is an unattached thought after all, with no foundation, like a bubble or a helium balloon we are hanging onto. We can let go the string anytime and watch it float away.

Coming away from the hospital I realised that I don’t want to be searching anymore. In the past I was always on a mission to improve myself, to ‘find myself’ so that I could help others. And I think that for a few brief moments leading up to my panic attack I had slipped back there. I was striving for something out of reach, when in fact it was right there with me all along, and always had been. On that morning I was ‘holding onto the string’.

Here’s a final metaphor that I have used in my teaching. Did you know that if you make a cut with a knife or razor blade in a chrysalis just as a butterfly is beginning to emerge it will never fly? A misguided attempt to help the process along actually ends it, because the insect’s struggle for freedom is not an inconvenience but a requirement, building the strength necessary for flight.

Now I see that the ‘struggle’ of my anxiety attack was actually a requirement of my need to stay present.



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  • Having attended David's course and then had some one to one sessions with him my approach to my life has changed dramatically and improved. David has a very gentle and empathic way about him, yet managed to challenge my habitual way of being and thinking. As a result of our time together I now practice his "way of being" and I truly find that I am getting far better results in all of the relationships that I encounter. My inner chatter is under control, most of the time, and I am learning to pause and push away harmful thinking . It's surprising how habitual thinking can do so much damage and how, once you really focus on what comes into your mind you start to realise that you can be bigger than your random thoughts. So David thank you for putting me on a better pathway. Looking forward to sharing another journey with the Auspicium family!
    Rowena Wild

  • The course I attended with David Key was marvellous, every moment being filled with joy and laughter. David has a unique talent to teach, unlocking the full potential of every person he encounters. His course opened up an infinite number of ways for me to get the life I want, right now, today, and in the future. It made me realise that thought is fluid and that I can mould it the way I want to suit my day. I would highly recommend this course to anyone in search of a new professional career or for those who simply want a happier life. Thank You!
    Lucia Pohrebnyak

  • It took me about 5 years of 'dithering' before committing, and in that time I attended several introductory days from various training providers. David's accessible style and the unforced flow of the day is what persuaded me to choose his company. David provides a training model that helps you become your best self - as a student, as a practitioner, as a person. By 'best', I mean more open, less fearful, more confident, less judgemental - whether you attend the course to make a change personally or professionally, to build on existing success, or with no idea where it might go, simply because you are interested (that was me!) you will be impressed at what you are able to achieve with David's expert guidance showing you how to use your curiosity as a pathway to growth. In the first week following the course, I dealt with several potentially difficult situations both at work and home, coming from a changed perspective - resulting in no conflict, calmer colleagues, less stressed family. And this without actively using any techniques; the biggest change has been inside my own headspace. I can't wait to do the next course. Now that I know, unequivocally, the benefits to be had, I wish I had come down off the fence years ago! Added bonus, a bunch of fabulous new friends. And a final thought about cost; some of you reading this will be struggling to justify spending a chunk of hard earned money "just" for yourself. Well, I will be using these tools every day for the rest of my life - pennies a day investment! I am SO worth it. And so are you!
    Sue Bee

  • I first met David at an evening business club a couple of years ago. During his presentation something “clicked” with me and I felt compelled to further my understanding of NLP. I attended the Auspicium free trial day. My earlier feelings were confirmed. This guy knows what he’s talking about and has a passion for helping people. I duly signed up for the NLP and Hypnotherapy practitioner course. What a week. All in the class left in such high spirits with a very different outlook on life. Following on I have attended the NLP and Hypnotherapy Master Practitioner course. Again excellent. There was something about the Hypnotherapy element of the course that I loved so on to the Hypnotherapy Trainers Training (another absolutely brilliant week). All the courses that I have attended have been very well organised, have a great team of trainers and support volunteers. The documentation is well put together and the exercises are all structured to push yourself to show you have a grasp of the given subject. I now have a fantastic group of new friends who I have a deep link with. We still meet up when we can to catch up on what we are all doing. As of March this year I have been participating in the Auspicium Freedom Project. This is a yearlong “conversation” about the 3 Principles – Mind, Thought and Consciousness. It took me a while to “get” it but now just by “doing nothing” I find myself doing more with better results and no stress. There are no models or techniques to learn. We all have the Principles inside us. We just need to be woken up to how to use them. It’s a great journey that will take the rest of my life. David is a superb trainer and fully deserves all the praise he receives.
    Phillip Warris

  • Before going on David’s Practitioner course, I thought I knew what I wanted, where I was headed and how I was going to get it. All I wanted an additional skill to add to my portfolio. I thought my life was in reasonably good order, nothing that needed fixing. I can sum up my experience of working with David in two words: life-changing. Instead of just learning a new skill, David encouraged us to apply his teaching, our learning, to ourselves. In a very safe environment, I gradually dropped the barriers I had painstakingly built up over a long time. This change happened very quickly and I continued growing as a person, studying 2 more courses with David and joining him on the Freedom project. Why David? He is disarmingly honest, genuine and engaging. He has a very broad knowledge of human behaviour and passes his knowledge on with grace. As a result of working with David, I have changed, and my life has changed. In myself I am very happy and contented person. My marriage is better and stronger. My business plans have taken a different route - one that is exciting and feels very right for me.