‘Your mind can cre­ate re­al­ity’

Jour­nal­ist and po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist Lau­ren Booth re­veals how her fa­ther’s be­liefs shape her life to­day

Spirit and Destiny - - Editor’s Letter -

Jour­nal­ist and po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist

Lau­ren Booth re­veals how her fa­ther’s be­liefs shaped her life and how learn­ing to be grate­ful is at the heart of who she is

‘There was a cer­tain amount of witch­craft go­ing on’

You’re the daugh­ter of the late fa­mous ac­tor Tony Booth. Was it a happy child­hood?

I’m one of eight of his chil­dren and I had a great child­hood. Dad was a beau­ti­ful 70s icon. He was very charis­matic and laid-back. We lived in a flat in Hamp­stead, in Lon­don, and I re­mem­ber he’d watch rac­ing with a beer in front of the TV. We were poor – washed our hair in fairy liq­uid and used news­pa­per as loo pa­per. Dad used to say if we used The Sun news­pa­per we’d be poor but we used The Guardian so we were rich be­cause it was a pa­per of as­pi­ra­tion!

Was he spir­i­tual?

We had a strong spir­i­tual con­nec­tion all my life, he poured more of his spir­i­tu­al­ity into me be­cause I lived with him for 11 years, the long­est of any of his chil­dren. Like Mum,

Suzie (80), who still lives in Lon­don, he never went to church – I was chris­tened un­der the kitchen tap! – but he al­ways be­lieved in a greater power, a cre­ator.

Dad was also a be­liever in the power of the mind. He’d say, ‘You can turn a light off with your mind’ and he’d get me to con­cen­trate on the light and some­times it would flicker.

I in­her­ited his be­lief in the power of your mind cre­at­ing your re­al­ity. We’d sit on the beer stained car­pet and he’d do mind read­ing ex­er­cises with me in the evenings. Dad would say, ‘I see some­thing spe­cial in you, kid.’ He’d hold up a play­ing card and ask, ‘What num­ber and colour is it?’ And I’d have to guess.

‘Con­cen­trate,’ he’d say. And he’d run through the pack and some­times I’d get a run of right num­bers and colours. And he’d say he was com­mu­ni­cat­ing them to me through the power of his mind.

There was also a cer­tain amount of witch­craft go­ing on at home. We had a book on witch­craft and Mum be­lieved in the power of spells and Dad in man­i­fes­ta­tion. They were also into tran­scen­den­tal med­i­ta­tion. In 1973 Dad said to me, ‘Lis­ten kid, mankind has got it wrong, we’re look­ing to tech­nol­ogy for our fu­ture in­stead of look­ing to the power of the mind. There’s much more we can’t see and your mind can do more than you think it can.’

Your Dad sounds like quite the spir­i­tual vi­sion­ary...

Def­i­nitely. He be­lieved in a higher power, not in in­sti­tu­tional reli­gions. He gave me a book when I was five years old called Mis­ter God

This Is Anna by Syd­ney Hop­kins about a child and her con­ver­sa­tions with God.

That got me into the power of prayer. If some­thing up­set me as a kid I’d pray about it. Silly things like ‘Please take away my younger sis­ter, Emma, who is al­ways tag­ging along after me!’

Mum said to me re­cently, ‘You were weird as a child. You were al­ways pray­ing!’ Mum’s mum, Frances Ri­ley, had a more tra­di­tional faith and also taught me the Lord’s Prayer. Dad was into 70s ex­per­i­men­tal­ism. But they both spoke to me about the ex­is­tence of the soul that’s linked to some­thing greater than your­self.

I al­ways knew there was some­thing out there, I just felt it in my bones. Chil­dren are nat­u­ral spir­i­tual be­ings, they know about ‘God’ and ‘The One’. You have to teach peo­ple about athe­ism. I al­ways had a sense ev­ery­thing was go­ing to be okay, that I was cared for.

Any other spir­i­tual ex­pe­ri­ences your dad in­tro­duced to you?

He taught me about spir­i­tual pro­jec­tion (a tech­nique where you project your spirit out of your body to travel to an­other lo­ca­tion in sec­onds). With­out TV and any other dis­trac­tions, I’d go to bed and lie there and project my­self out of my body. We couldn’t af­ford to put on the light with our 50p me­tre so I’d lie think­ing big thoughts about what’s at the

end of the uni­verse and I’d reach out there in my mind. Then next minute I’d be out of the bed­room win­dow and past the moon and right out into the gal­axy then I’d hit a brick wall and never get over the other side and next minute I’d be back in bed. I did it many times as a child but never got past the wall.

Ever had any psy­chic ex­pe­ri­ences?

Nan, Mum’s mum, was into the ouija board (a board marked with let­ters of the al­pha­bet used to com­mu­ni­cate with Spirit). She also spoke to Spirit and would pre­dict the fu­ture. Peo­ple would come to her for read­ings, ask­ing things like if they should make this move, or what would hap­pen at work.

When I was 21 and in Alice Springs, in Aus­tralia, I lost a con­tact lens and one day rang my nan who said, ‘How are you go­ing to see with­out a con­tact lens?!’ She just knew!

When I was 32, a cou­ple of years after she died, she ap­peared to me in a dream, sit­ting on a gold throne and I said, ‘I’m glad to see you!’ Then Nan said, ‘I’m so dis­gusted and an­gry with you. I’ve spo­ken to the an­gels and their mes­sage is if you keep mess­ing up – I was drink­ing and smok­ing a lot then – you won’t have a baby and this is your last chance to sort out your life.’ I’d had three mis­car­riages. She said, ‘There’s a baby in you now.’ Six weeks later I dis­cov­ered I was in­deed preg­nant with Alexan­dra, now 17! It was a mes­sage I needed to sort my life out.

Do you think moth­er­hood was a spir­i­tual turn­ing point for you?

Giv­ing birth was one of the most spir­i­tual ex­pe­ri­ences I’ve ever had. I went through a very blank spir­i­tual pe­riod driven by my

self­ish ego from the ages of 18 to 40.

I’d drunk and smoked mar­i­juana from the age of 13 and that was a bar­rier to con­nect­ing to a higher power, ‘the one’ we seek. Giv­ing birth at 33 was a big spir­i­tual awakening for me. The mo­ment I felt my baby kick in­side me I re­alised a mir­a­cle was hap­pen­ing and it wasn’t me con­trol­ling it. I was speak­ing to some­thing

(my baby) in­side me that I couldn’t see and had a con­nec­tion with it and it trig­gered a spir­i­tu­al­ity in me again, be­liev­ing in some­thing I couldn’t see or con­trol.

When I gave birth it was joy­ful, I had amaz­ing vi­sions of waves crash­ing on a beach in my mind’s eye. I’d never felt any­thing like it – it wasn’t an ex­pe­ri­ence about me or my ego or my ca­reer or my looks or im­me­di­ate wants. I had a self­less spir­i­tual awakening.

They of­fered me drugs to ease the pain of birth and I said, ‘No’. My first hus­band said, ‘That’s the first time you’ve turned down free drugs!’ I said, ‘I am go­ing to do it for my daugh­ter, I am go­ing to do this prop­erly.’

And I meant it. I be­lieve when you give birth a woman slips be­tween this world and the spir­i­tual realm.

Your Dad died last year, aged 85, after a bat­tle with heart prob­lems and de­men­tia. Did you get time to say good­bye?

When Dad was on his deathbed I hadn’t seen him for two years. I don’t know the rea­sons be­hind why he didn’t want to see me, it could have been his de­men­tia. When I went to see him at his home in the vil­lage of Tod­mor­den (on the York­shire border), I didn’t think he’d recog­nise me. I re­minded my­self I wasn’t there to right wrongs of the past or make up, that was about things that had hap­pened in this life and he was go­ing some­where dif­fer­ent.

My job was to make him feel loved and at peace. I went with the in­ten­tion that I was there to serve him.

I re­cited some holy scrip­tures and stroked his hand while he was asleep. Then he opened his eyes and they were as blue as the sea, and he looked straight into my soul and said, ‘You’re so full of light, beau­ti­ful and hon­est.’

Dad al­ways used to quote to me grow­ing up that our eyes are the mir­rors of our souls. He’d look into my eyes to find out what state I was in. ‘It’s not what you tell me that tells me how you are, it’s what I see in your eyes,’ he’d say.

When he was dy­ing, a look of love passed be­tween us as we looked into each other’s eyes that was so deep and beau­ti­ful. It was like I was look­ing at my Dad at the age of 30 and I was a lit­tle girl again.

I knew at that mo­ment that we were in the same place as each other. What passed be­tween us was the same look of pure love that we had had at our strong­est time of con­nec­tion.

The night he died I dreamt he was be­ing washed by three men in white in a big palace. I don’t know where he is now but I know he’s happy wher­ever he is.

Do you be­lieve in guardian an­gels?

They may not be vis­i­ble but I be­lieve they’re around us all the time. I’m aware they’re mak­ing notes of the good and harm we do. They pro­tect us and are be­hind, in front and be­side us. When I pray I bring their pro­tec­tion to me. I al­ways pray five times a day.

In 2010 your con­ver­sion to Is­lam sparked a me­dia furore and a lot of neg­a­tiv­ity. How did it change you?

It changed me as a mum be­cause I be­came a lot more peace­ful and calm after stop­ping drink­ing. Of course, I had al­ways looked after my chil­dren and got them to school on time, but there was an at­mos­phere some­times of tetch­i­ness, ma­te­ri­al­ism and ten­sion that my chil­dren felt phys­i­cally from time to time, and day to day. Not drink­ing changed my way of be­ing for the bet­ter. But there was also no change in that I was brought up in a spir­i­tual house­hold and Is­lam is all about the un­seen, the bound­aries be­tween this re­al­ity and ev­ery­thing else. This re­al­ity is just a drop in the ocean.

Do you have a daily spir­i­tual prac­tice?

I try ev­ery day when I open my eyes to say praise and thanks. Ev­ery morn­ing I open my eyes and the first thing that passes my lips, be­fore I reach for my iPhone, is a chant that

‘I get to do it bet­ter to­day’. I’m grate­ful I have been al­lowed to make it through the night and I make the in­ten­tion I’m go­ing to be bet­ter to­day.

At night when I go to bed I try and find 10 things to say I’m sorry for and ask for for­give­ness. Then 10 things to be grate­ful for. It doesn’t have to be big things, it could be some­thing as small as be­ing grate­ful for your eye­lashes that pre­vent dust be­ing blown into your eyes. You can keep track of what you’re grate­ful for by writ­ing them in a di­ary and then look back and see how you’ve moved on from be­ing grate­ful for your eye­lashes to giv­ing thanks for hav­ing an amaz­ing hus­band!

✿ More info Find­ing Peace in the Holy Land by Lau­ren Booth (£19.99, Kube Pub­lish­ing).

‘This re­al­ity is just a drop in the ocean’

With my daugh­ters, Alex and Holly, in 2009

At the Labour Con­fer­ence in 1996 with Dad (right)

Out with my dad, the ac­tor Tony Booth Cel­e­brat­ing my eighth birth­day

En­ter­tain­ing the chil­dren at a party

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