The “New Years Resolution” business model is flawed…

You are not a bag of inadequacies to be critiqued or compared at an annual review meeting, your life is a mystery to be loved and lived for what it is.  Instead of making resolutions to Be Better, better to simply drop the mindset of negativity, of must do better, that no longer serves you.

Give yourself the gift of compassion, humility and self-acceptance: you are perfect just as you are, and everything is happening just as it is meant to.  Take a look back at the last 12 months and write yourself a list of what you achieved instead of how you could improve.  Write yourself a Thank You letter – no one has to see it, just you.

Embrace all that you are with humility, and by letting go of that which no longer serves you, create the space for that which makes your soul sing to flood in.

HUMILITY

“In order to own the light within us, first we must become willing to explore the shadow –and the bigger the light, the bigger the shadow. This exploration requires humility. Humility is a lifelong process. It begins with willingness. With courage. With vulnerability. It requires that you take a searching look at all that you are. Not just some of you. Not only the pretty parts. The light, the shadow. And everything in between. All of it. What comprises the shadow? Your past wounds. Your unfinished business. Your incomplete experiences. The sadness you didn’t cry. The fear you didn’t feel. The rage you didn’t express. The gripes you allowed to accumulate inside you. Self-hatred. Unworthiness. This is the undigested content that makes up the shadow. The shadow is anything you have been unwilling to embrace as part of yourself. If we are humble, we own all that we are. We bring our baggage into the light of awareness. And when we are able to do this, we become profoundly free.”

It is not about Doing Better, it’s about your state of Being.  Life is about creation, not discovery: To Be whatever you want to be – your highest aspiration for yourself – and to produce the right and perfect conditions within which to create the experience of that.

Make a life, not a living

From certain states of Being will spring a life so rich, so full, so magnificent and so rewarding that worldly goods and success will be of no concern. 

Begin at once to imagine your life the way you want it to be and move to that.  Check every thought, word and action that does not fall into harmony with that, and move away from those.

  • Align your thoughts with your highest visions
  • Align your words with your grandest ideas
  • Align your actions with your best intentions

Create opportunities to Be, Do & Have what it takes to know who you really are. You are free. Infinite. Infinite. Infinite.  

What will you choose to Be? 

Be Happy!

Quotes from “Discovering Your Soul Signature”

13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

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Checking for update

Checking for update

For all those who truly want answers and who truly care about the questions;  for all those who have embarked upon quests for truth with sincerity of heart, longing of soul, and openness of mind, this blog is for you.  

When I reflect back on the last 8 months, my quest to find My Way Up, I can pin-point specific “spots in time” when I’ve experienced change, a shift.  Some were small yet significant, and some were seismic game-changing epoch-defining shifts that altered my perception of the world around me, as well as my perception of Self, from where I could operate from a point of ignorance no longer.

I figure I’m currently operating on Jessington software version 36.5.0, and version 36.5.1 is ready to download.  Each version has featured its own bug fixes, removing redundant features and replacing them with upgrades.  

Jessington Version 36.5.1:

– shadow work:  embracing my darker, denser side in the paradigm of duality, true balance. 

– discernment:  listening to my highest thought: joy;  listening to my clearest word: truth;  listening to my grandest feeling: love;  listening to my greatest messenger: experience. 

– exploration:  asking my higher-self (from my heart) “what experience do I need to have?”  We are all led to the truth for which we are ready by being open to everything, by being willing to hear, and remain open to the communication even when it seems scary, or crazy, or downright wrong. 

“Feeling is the language of the soul.  If you want to know what’s true for you about something, look how you’re feeling about it.  Feelings are sometimes difficult to discover – and often even more difficult to acknowledge.  Yet hidden in your deepest feelings is your highest truth.  The trick is to get to those feelings.”

Conversations with God, Neale Donald Walsch

UPGRADE AVAILABLE:

Denser feelings, such as anger, depression, frustration, are still a part of us (I’m working on this) but they can get in the way of our joy, our happiness, our truth.  Here’s some magic:  you can choose your response, truly:

Inquire within, rather than without, asking: “what part of my Self do I wish to experience now in the face of this calamity?  What aspect of being do I choose to call forth?”  For all life exists as a tool of your own creation, and all of its events merely present themselves as opportunities for you decide, and be, Who You Are. 

Conversations with God, Neale Donald Walsch

By consciously letting go of redundant features, such as energies, emotions, protocols or belief systems that no longer serve you, you inherently make space to welcome in new ones that better express and embrace your Essence-Self.  

In time, and by working on myself a lot over the last 200+ days,  I’ve come to realise that so many of the issues, or “miseries”, that I’ve had in my past were a result of decisions I made without even realising it – decisions like carrying around other people’s shit, accepting gifts of negativity, or my ego getting in my own way by trying (and failing) to impress people because of a need to be liked, brought on by childhood insecurities. 

Insecurity, anger, frustration, whatever, these are the things that hold us all back; they feed our negative thought patterns, our protocols.  They mean we keep repeating the same bullshit stories we tell ourselves over and over, like “I’m not good enough” or “if only that person would change a little, then my life would be sooo much better”.  

I’ve come to realise that the only person we can truly change is Us. 

Taking that time to work on myself, to really inquire within, to put my ego to one side and hold space for myself means I’m now better able to choose to lead a life that isn’t dictated by my past as much anymore.  I choose to live a proactive life, free and liberated.  It is such a joy not to be kept awake at night with those kinds of feelings anymore, and instead to replace them with feelings of liberation.  

Now, I have the faculty to Pause.  I can choose not to get angry, I can choose not to accept gifts of negativity or frustration from others.  I choose to be me, to try and embrace both the light and dark aspects of me as a whole unconditionally,  freeing myself from the old stories I’ve been told, and to walk in the valley of my own shadow. 

All to often we pick up and carry so much of other people’s shit around, when we have so much of our own shit to deal with in the first place.  If only we put as much energy into outselves as we do other people. 

Por ejemplo:  There were these two monks, one Old, one Young, walking in the forest.  They came to a river, and saw a young woman struggling to cross it.  

Now, they’ve both sworn an sacred oath never to touch a woman, but after a brief pause and without hesitation the Older monk picked up the woman and carried her across the river, setting her down on the other side, and without a word they continued walking.  The Young monk was beside himself – he kept thinking to himself how could the Old monk have broken his vows?!  

He kept quiet until he could no longer, and confronted the Older monk “How could you pick her up?  We both swore a sacred oath never to touch a woman?!”.  

The Old monk replied “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”.  

Told. 

Along this theme, and to help keep me a shit-free zone, I constantly refer to some powerful and beautifully simple principles, or keys: 

1.  The 4 Agreements: thank you Anna Cooper, I FINALLY understand them all:

2.  Forgiveness:  to liberate my soul

3.  Gratitude:  to open my heart 

4.  Anicca: The law of nature/impermanence.  Everything changes, goes in cycles, so just Let Goooooo of any cravings or aversions:  the key here is to accept everything just as it, not as you would like it to be.   For example, the Sun will always rise and it will always set:  we have no control over that, so just accept it just as it is, and most importantly do that with equanimity: i.e. no labelling it Good or Bad.


5.  Pause:  Choose your response proactively in every situation, not reactively.  Take control.  Take a conscious breath.  Pause, and the solution will present itself.  Be 100% Present – hold space, be in the moment, and your true Essence-Self will be revealed.  

Seems relevant at this point to also introduce the Law of attraction/repulsion, as summarised in the video below, which is well worth a watch:

Bashar :: The Law of Attraction and Repulsion

God bless every child travelling the road home 🕉 

Be your own Alchemist 

Be your own Alchemist 

I recently expanded my knowledge of a technique called Prana Yama – the practice of mastering of our life force by controlling our breath.  When we learn to control our breath, and more importantly hold empty with control, we suspend our consciousness, taking us into realms we normally can’t access. We gain more ways to tangibly feel our consciousness kick and scream!

Prana Yama has the power to take us on a journey into our subconscious, and it’s magic for re-routing energy at a cellular level:  

It is the alchemy for connecting our conscious to our subconscious.

Prana is the Sanskrit word for Energy, life force, and it comes from everything: what you eat, where you go (nature), essential oils, spiritual places, all these things hold a charge. 

Here’s some science:  Free radicals & pollutants can steal our energy.  Prana can fill those gaps.  Prana is a negative ion on the O2 molecule, an extra electrical charge, so when it comes into contact with a free radical it balances the charge and cancels it out.  It’s also been proven that disease cannot survive in a highly oxygenated environment.  

The complete yogic breath is key to this practice, and here’s how you do it.  And as promised, there’s also three techniques at the bottom for you to try.  It’s a lot of words, but I promise it’s worth it. 

—–

BASIC BREATH TRAINING, courtesy of Jenika Bronson

The system of complete yogic breathing is key to obtaining the multifold benefits of a yoga practice.  Working with simple breathing exercises helps oxygenate the body, brings energy to all the muscles, organs and glands, revitalizes and relaxes the mind and the entire nervous system.  

Taking time every day to practice these exercises in a clean and quiet environment will help bring about quick and noticeable improvements in all areas of the physical body and have a calming effect on the mind. 

Some key points before beginning the breathing practices: 

*The breathing in yoga is done in and out through the NOSE.  This allows for oxygen and energy to circulate to the brain and nervous system and not just to the lungs.  It is very healing and awakening and begins a biofeedback process between the body and the environment outside. 

*If you are a smoker, please refrain from holding your breath as this will push all the toxins from the lungs directly into the bloodstream.  Instead, keep up with deep breathing and cleansing breaths (Inhaling through the nose and exhaling forcefully through the mouth) to help loosen up the lining of the lungs and begin a cleansing process. 

*Always practice these breathing exercises in a well-oxygenated environment free from heavy scents, pollution, or dirt/dust/mold. 

Part I ABDOMINAL BREATHING – “The Buddha Belly”: 30% of capacity

Energetically, this works with the 1st (root) and 2nd (sacral) chakras  

The first step of yogic breathing is working with the abdominal breath.  This breath helps bring energy and oxygen to the lowest lobes of the lungs and stimulates all the lower abdominal organs and glands.  This breath is excellent to practice if you are suffering from abdominal tension, constipation, liver, kidney, spleen, or pancreatic problem.  Also, practicing this breath on a daily basis will act as a preventative for these same issues. 

Step 1: 

Find a comfortable sitting position (cross-legged, sitting on your heels, or simply with your legs stretched out in front of you).  If all of these positions are too uncomfortable, this breath can be practiced standing up.  However, for best results a sitting position is recommended. 

Step 2: 

Bring your right hand to your abdomen. As you inhale, see if you can direct the air into your abdominal area as though there were a balloon inflating in your stomach.  Feel your abdomen pressing against your hand.  As you exhale, draw your abdomen back toward your spine.  Inhale, belly expands, Exhale, belly draws in toward spine.  Repeat for 5-10 deep breaths. 

Part II MID-CHEST BREATHING – 60% of capacity 

Energetically, this works with the 3rd (solar plexus) and 4th (heart) chakras 

This breath is also known as the “bellows breath” and works to laterally expand the ribcage energizing the heart, lungs, and upper abdomen.  It is the section of the breath that tends to be the most locked-up and might take a bit of patient effort to get a sense of the movement in the beginning.  Working with this section of the breath is excellent for smokers, people suffering from asthma and other respiratory problems, high-cholesterol, clogged arteries and to prevent and alleviate heart conditions. 

Step 1: 

Find a comfortable sitting position. To get a sense of this breath, place one hand on either side of the ribcage just below the chest. As you inhale, feel the ribs expand out to the side like an accordion. As you exhale, feel the ribs squeeze back into center. 

Step 2: 

Once you feel connected to the lateral motion, apply gentle pressure to your ribs as you exhale to get a sense of all the air being squeezed out of the lungs.  Repeat this breath 5-10 times. 

   

Part III UPPER-CHEST BREATHING – 10% capacity 

Energetically, this works with the 5th (throat) chakra 

This section of the breath tends to be the most natural for people and consists in the gentle rise and fall of the upper chest.  This breath brings air to the uppermost part of the lungs and sends energy to the thyroid gland, the heart, lymphatic system and into the head and brain.  Excellent for relaxation and stress-relief. 

Step 1: 

Bring right hand to collarbones. Inhale, feel upper chest rise (can lift shoulders as well), exhale, allow shoulders and chest to relax.  Repeat for 5 -10 breaths. 

Step 2: 

Apply gentle pressure to upper chest to get sense of resistance as the air moves into the upper lungs.  Repeat for 5-10 breaths. 


THE COMPLETE YOGIC BREATH 

The complete yogic breath is key to the yoga practice and consists in stringing together the 3 sections of the breath we have just learned.  Remember to breathe in and out through the nose.  With the inhale, we begin by bringing air to our abdominal area, moving it up to the mid-chest and then all the way into the upper lungs.  
As we exhale, we draw in the abdomen first, then the mid-chest and then the upper-chest.  This creates a wave-like motion with the breath and ensures that air gets into all the lung cavities and also that it gets expelled fully.  If this breath feels a bit strange at first, be patient and know that with a bit of practice it will become quite natural.  

Inhale: Belly, Mid, Upper. Exhale: Belly, Mid, Upper. Repeat 5-10 times. 


Start your day with 7 Buddha, 7 Mid, 7 Upper and 7 full yogic breaths. 


CLEANSING BREATH 

The cleansing breath is a technique to be used as a way to quickly get CO2 out of the body, and is quite purifying physically and psychologically.  If you have been doing vigorous exercise or simply feel a bit winded, this technique will help bring your respiration to a normal rate and allow your cells to re-oygenate.  This breath is also excellent to practice daily for people suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems as it helps keep the airways clear. Again, practice this breath in a clean environment. 

Step 1:  Take a full inhale into all 3 parts of the lungs. 

Step 2:  Blast the air out through the mouth, curling the head and shoulders down and feeling the diaphragm contract pushing all the air out of the lungs. 

Step 3:  Repeat 3-6 times and then return to the complete yogic breath for 5-10 deep breaths. 

——–

SELF-PRACTICE BREATHING TECHNIQUES

Imagine Prana Yama to be like a combination lock – when you punch in the right numbers, doors will open.  

By practicing measured breathing techniques we gain conscious control over something that’s usually done unconsciously.

Our breath really connects with our emotional states, so here are some combinations for you to try: 

1. SAVATRI

This is great for anxiety, or when there’s too much energy that doesn’t know how to be… 

Using your full yogic breath, you can calm your nervous system within a minute.  Best done lying down, with your head to the North. 

Rhythm: 

  • Inhale for a count of 8*
  • Hold for a count of 4*
  • Exhale belly first for a count of 8
  • Hold empty for a count of 4

*always a ratio of 2:1

Duration: 5-10 minutes, or as needed. Best before bed. 

2. MEDITATION & ESOTERIC TECHNIQUES

Plugs you in on a mental level and great for concentration.  This rhythm helps to run a current through your chakras, and is perfect for 3rd eye meditations.  Can be done sitting, but best done lying down during deep relaxation meditation. 

Rhythm:

  • Inhale for a count of 7
  • Hold for a count of 3
  • Exhale for a count of 7

Lying down, focus on your third eye and increase the rhythm to 9, holding for 3, exhaling for 9 for a few breaths.  Then increase again to 11, 3, 11, and finally  to 13, 3, 13.  After a few breaths, come back down to 11, 3, 11, then 9, 3, 9, then 7, 3, 7, and finally return to your normal rhythm, continuing to focus on your 3rd eye. 

Duration: 5-10 minutes, as you like.

You don’t need to do 7/3/7 (or full yogic breaths) during normal meditation practice, but you can use 7/3/7 to plug you back in if you become distracted. 

3. NASARGA BASTRIKA or FIRE BREATHING

Great for self-confidence, firing ourselves up, breaking bad habits.  It works with your solar plexus, your sun centre, and taps into your will power.  It creates a lot of energy, and it’s best to plant a happy seed whilst doing it.  It’s excellent for breaking any heavier denser self-pity feelings.  It also flushes out your lungs really well. 

NB people with high blood pressure or pregnant women should take care with this! 

Rhythm: 

  • Hands to mid-chest 
  • 40* x sped up mid-chest breaths (with life) with a forced out-breath
  • 4 full yogic breaths
  • Hold on the last breath (to add voltage and pressure)
  • Slowly release 

*this can be done 40 times, 54 or ultimately 108. 

Duration: once is enough! 

Recommendation: start your day with this: FULL YOURSELF UP WITH PRANA such that you can meditate and just observe your breath full of Prana/energy. 
Just breathe, and enjoy! 

You can go your own way

You can go your own way

“Welcome to Hogwarts” he said, as I walked through the gate.  “This is going to be an interesting month” I thought to myself…

Sometime ago I decided to throw out plans, to Let Go and just go with the flow.  India is massive, and in the beginning just choosing what direction to go in was hard enough (FML).  I soon realised that if I just shut up, sat back and waited, the solution often presented itself.  It was then that I really started letting go of any idea of linear, logical, north/south/east/west routes, and instead to listen to my intuition and literally make this shit up as a I go along. 

That decision led me in directions I never expected, led me to simply fabulous people and places I might never have met/seen otherwise.  By being open to absolutely everything and going with what felt right in the moment meant I never shut any doors.  

I just stopped thinking about travelling in geographical terms and instead as a field:  I can go in any direction I want, I just have to follow the feeling and find my own way.   Plan B was everything else, Plan A was just being present in the moment and going with it. 

7 months later, I followed a feeling and flew Guatemala from Nepal, to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. ok ok, Las Piramides School of Yoga, Metaphysics & Meditation in San Marcos La Laguna.  They’re basically the same thing.   

  

I’m halfway through week 2 of the 4-week Moon Course here at Las Piramides, and I’m certain it was the best decision I ever made.  

I’m doing Yoga every goddam day, meditating, getting in touch with my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies, learning about metaphysics, dimensions, astral travelling, lucid dreams, channelling, Reike, Kirtans, healing techniques, mantras, I’m chanting Om Mani Padme Hum and I understand why, I’m opening my 3rd eye with Ommmmm meditation, I’m learning breathing techniques and Pranayama, I bought a crystal the other day and I’m living in a fucking pyramid!  

yoga every goddam day

  

my little hobbit house
 

I feel like Hermione Granger as I note down the instructions for Lucid Dreaming and Astral Travelling, dictated to us from one of the coolest, most authentic 60-ish year olds I know off’ve the 70’s (with the best anecdotes, FYI).  We’re not even halfway through the course yet, and we’ve still got another 5 dimensions to learn about!  It’s fascinating. 

I know what you’re thinking… “She’s gone full Hippy now”, and up until very recently I would have agreed with you.  

To back-track a little… 

I came to San Marcos two years ago, sat in Shambala coffee shop, observing many cliches around me:  Ali baba trousers, dreadlocks, and all Peace and Love maaaan.  My friends and I laughed a little at the time, remarking how we thought those kind of people had died out in the 90’s, and as it turns out they’d all retired to San Marcos to set up organic coffee shops.  I scoffed a little, and called them “Hippies”.

Now I’m on the other side of the fence I’m beginning to understand where “they” were coming from, and what they were aiming for, and I’m wondering – when did Hippy become a bad word?  

I’ll fully admit that for me it had slightly negative connotations at the time.  They were different, perhaps weaker for some reason I couldn’t express, alternative, running away, new age, definitely out there and something I judged because of ignorance.  

Labelling puts us into categories, segregates Us from Them.  It happens all over with things like job titles, fashion statements, religion, race, whatever – they’re all just ways we fit in, all different vehicles to use, and all subtly perpetuating apartness, a separateness from the Whole, in both positive and negative ways.

I didn’t want to feel separate from my friends or my family just because of a new perspective I was getting, so I began thinking “there should be a new word for this”.  I wanted a word that could encapsulate the beautiful essence of what I’m experiencing and seeing so clearly, without having to feel different, or separate, because I’m not different exactly.  I’m still me, I’m just becoming more of me.

I’m here with 20 other like-minded people who are just as cool, grounded, funny, and normal as my mates from home.  We’re not bonkers, I promise.  We haven’t flown away with the fairies.  We’re all very grounded, normal people from normal backgrounds (who still take a pinch of salt in their diets), we just all followed a feeling:  we’re here because we want to find out more about ourselves, and ultimately to make a positive contribution to the world.  If that’s what being a Hippy is all about, then yeah!  I’m all for it! 

Then I thought about it some more.  Why does there need to be a new word, or a word at all?  By finding a new word I’m just perpetuating that concept of categorisation, the idea of separateness, difference. 

So instead, I prefer to think of it like this:  

We can be everything.  You don’t need to label it, you don’t need to close any doors.  Life is a field remember, and we can all go in all directions. 

You could be the Grande Fromage of a big corporation, wearing a suit from Monday to Friday, or a person who just really likes video games, whoever, we can all embody the essence of what we’re learning, which is basically a way to be, a way to present yourself in the world for your own benefit and to make the world a better place.  It doesn’t need a name, you can just Be it, be the example. 

Keep the doors open, and Be the change that you want to see. 

Om shanti shanti Om, peace, peace, peace, love, light, freedom and compassion for all beings, light and blessings for your day, Namaste.

the Flip Flop Filosopher x

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

When was the last time you tested your boundaries, to see how far you could push yourself?  Or totally switched off from the grid, no screens, no contact, no news, no talking, no looking even.  On the 25th June, I completed a 10 day Vipassana Meditation course in Nepal, and it was one of the most game changing experiences of my life. 

So what is it?  

The word “Vipassana” means seeing things as they really are, not as you would like them to be.  It’s a process of self purification by self observation, a technique developed and taught by the Buddha.  It’s free and available to absolutely anyone, regardless of your ethnicity or religious tendencies.   It’s a universal technique that teaches you a way of life, a code of conduct, an art of living.  The goal is to learn how to live peacefully and harmoniously, how to have control over the mind, and how to live with the spirit of the mind full of love, compassion and goodwill (man).  To learn, all you have do is surrender yourself to a meditation camp for 10 days, and agree to 5 precepts: 

1. To abstain from killing any living creature 

2. To abstain from stealing 

3. To abstain from all sexual activity 

4. To abstain from telling lies 

5. To abstain from all intoxicants

Let be honest, we’re all just worried about #5… Ohh, and the 10 days of Noble Silence… Yeah, that… No talking, no gestures, no eye contact, no reading, no writing. Just you, your thoughts, and S. N. Goenka’s dulcet tones.

  

The schedule is demanding and, like Pavlovs Dogs, our days revolved around bells – some made us salivate, others made us “starrrrt agaiiiiiin”…  the 4am wake up bell, the call to meditation bell, the “time for food” bell, from 4am to 9pm every day, 11 hours of meditation and noble silence.

The first few days are all about breathing…. Like, a LOT of breathing, but just your natural breath.   I couldn’t get my monkey mind to shut the fuck up – it’s surprising when you try reallllllly hard to not think of anything how much comes into your head.  

The conditions were challenging: the humidity was about 80% and the fans  worked occasional, which meant I sweated my arse off for most of the day, sweating out all my impurities and toxins.  Purging my system inside and out.  It was like rehab… 

Soon the schedule, the structure and the technique started to take over and I entered into almost a dream-like state. My inner world became so huge when I fell silent and just observed the world around me.  In the beginning, I did anything to keep my mind off the deafening silence in between the meditations, but after a while I found pleasure in stopping to smell the flowers, to watch the ants (FIFA), to just listen to the birds.  I know, I know how funny that sounds, and trust me I was as amused as you, but as I shut out the distractions, I left a quiet and peaceful mind, a mind that started to feel so vast and powerful, so full of potential. 

   

It’s not necessary to have to do the lotus pose for this meditation, just to find a comfortable sitting position that means you can sit for a period of time.  Despite months of sitting on nothing but divans, my western body still cried out in pain in a crossed leg position… My Knees, then my back, a numb bum, pins and needles in my feet on constant rotation.  

I made the ultimate mistake of looking around and comparing myself to my other inmates, who of course all looked so serene and comfortable, certainly not fidgeting every 5 minutes like me. Seriously, How the fuck are they all doing this?   I tried so many cushion configurations I lost count.  By the end of the course, everyone had their preferred set up, and watching them get them ready before the determined 1-hour-absolutely-no-moving-allowed sittings (that were introduced on day 4, 3 times daily) was like watching a golf pro set up for that a drive of the 1st tee. A check-list of about 40 and everything.just.so.

Dhamma Hall
    

Why did I do it?

What was I expecting?  Some kind of transcendental journey that would answer all my questions and give me some kind of out of body experience.   I feel a little foolish to think how much I wanted from it, how much I expected it to be like a magic wand, to fix me and take me places, a way of finding all the answers to all the things I worry about.  There are certainly some meditations/methods that can do that, this just isn’t that kind of thing.  

I hoped it would help me achieve stillness, strength, clarity, balance, help me tune into my emotions and intuition, to see my own potential and to hold space for myself.  The good news is, it helped me achieve all these things, and the technique was so simple, so real, and as a result wayyyy more visceral. 

How did it make me feel?

Initially, I felt apprehensive, frustrated, uncomfortable (sitting down for 11 hours may seem easy, but I challenge any of you to sit on the floor for even 15 mins without fidgeting);  by the end I felt so happy, relaxed, peaceful, grounded, and more in control of my mind.  Ultimately, I guess, a whole lot more aware/sober – it’s a 100% natural high. 

It felt like I was unlocking parts my brain, taking a journey of insight.  The mind is a muscle, it’s like I was exercising and relaxing it at the same time, like teaching it a new trick: Developing my faculty to focus within. Just to be, rather than trying to be.  To meet with pleasure and with pain and treat those two imposters just the same: it’s allllll about equanimity baby.  It all balances out if you just let it go, and you feel so much more free.

 
  

If this made me happy, does that mean I was un-happy before?  Yes and No, but for me this gives me a new way of seeing the world and a way to slowly eradicate negative reactions – there’s something in that.  It needs a few more goes to practice and to figure out how I realistically integrate it into my everyday life, but there’s definitely something in that.  

Am I happier now?  Yes.  Am I free from having wibbly moments of erratic emotion, tearful pathetic moments of ineptitude or flashes of anger?  No, I’m not out of those woods yet, but am I coping with those moments a lot better? Yes.  

“Good for you” I hear you say, but why should you care? How could this help you? 

It’s been useful to understand that everyone has a different experience, that everyone takes from it in a different way, and that you can only learn through your own experience.

Having said that, if you could see that there’s such a simple way to liberate yourself from tensions, you’d wish that for everyone.  I know not everyone can surrender 10 days to experience this for themselves.   I know I’m incredibly lucky to have been able to follow my curiosity.  It’s not my job to tell you to go, or to teach you the technique, all you need to know is that Vipassana is a universal technique that can help you exercise a healthy mind, happiness is a nice side effect.  

It’s NOT some cult or sect or religious rite of passage.  I’m still me – I’m just trying to be the happiest me I can be (cheesiest comment I’ll make all day, probably).  

The main aim is basically “May all beings be happy”, which is basically a nice thing. It doesn’t turn you into some reaction-less vegetable, it just turns you on to a different way of thinking.  It’s a sort of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which gives you choices about your thoughts. 

One week on, and I’m reflecting on that pure joy feeling I had as I walked out the meditation hall for the last time, and how to adapt/apply this to my every day life.  It’s going to be a challenge, but one I’m happy to undertake. 

In the words of 90’s band En Vogue, “Free your miiiiind, and the rest will follow!”

Vipassana Meditation Worldwide 

    

   

I dream of Idris Elba, and a new series of Luther

Idris Elba asked me a question – What do you want to be when you grow up? (It’s a video, you can watch it…)

Today of all days, that’s a great question to ask yourself.  Have a think about what you’re doing now.  What’s your dream now?  Doesn’t have to be your job, it could just be as simple as a hobby, or that you dream of waking up next to Idris watching the new series of Luther (*holds hands up*).

Ok I admit, that’s a big hippy question for a Monday morning, but it doesn’t have to be such a big deal.  Maybe you’re already living your dream (you lucky bastard), maybe you know what it is and you’re making in-roads towards it, or maybe like most of us you have no idea, or no time to have an idea anyway. 

I’m learning that order to grow you sometimes have to prune parts of you away; to be able to see the woods for the trees (#clairetong) you need to remove the obstacles that are getting in your way, like a state of mind, a facade, an addiction, a location, your job (this may or may not be my exact list).

Even if today you just remind yourself what you wanted to be when you grew up and smile about it, or sit for 5/10 minutes to contemplate it in a new context then that’s a great start.  I’m a different person at 35 and 11/12ths to the one I was at 7 and a 1/2 who wanted to be either an Astronaut, a Vet, a Helicopter Pilot, or as a last resort work for Aardman Animations making Wallace & Gromit come alive – none of those things happened, and I can smile at my younger old self as I prune away, clear the path and continue to figure out what the 35 year old me wants to do when she grows up.

Do something today that you’ll thank yourself for tomorrow.  If in doubt, move towards the people, places and projects that warm your heart, your spirit.  Believe in yourself, your dreams, your visions.  Plant a new seed. 

They said it would happen

They said it would happen

Day 91: Varkala

You don’t have to be in India for long, or go very far until you see someone practising Yoga or meditating on the beach at sunrise or sunset, or come across someone who wants to tell you about this and that practice they do, had done to them somewhere, or their particular philosophy on life.  That kind of thing just happens all over the place here.  

The allure of the taste, texture and colour of life mixed with my curious enthusiasm to learn new things means I like to try everything at least once in life.  

So far, in the past 91 days I’ve had my playing cards read, learnt about Chinese astrology and Indian Sanskrit, been given some pretty hard core acupressure on my hands and feet, been taught Pranayam (breath control), witnessed EFT (emotional freedom technique) transform a dear friends life, for the better, forever. 

I’ve been taught about the Shamans of the Amazon and Ayahuasca, about Mayan Astrology – how it syncs with the moon phases and the planet we live on, and explain why our man-made calendar makes us all feel like we’re always short on time.  I’ve been gifted a Bowen Therapy massage that left me feeling like a blast of energy was bursting up through my body like a tree trunk on fire!  I just can’t deny that that happened!  Shan’t. Don’t care what you say or if you tut tut contemptuously.  It did.  I now know that was my chakras bursting wide open (stick with me), but before I went I had no idea what it would do or what it was all about.  I had absolutely no preconceptions or expectations.  I just went on a whim after seeing a friend come back from her own massage literally glowing. G.L.O.W.I.N.G. and had my own glowing explosive experience. Just wow.

Through an energy exchange (you scratch my back, I’ll massage your foot, kind of thing), Sonia (the resident Reike master here at Shiva Gardens) asked me to teach her the little I knew about Mayan astrology.  In doing so, we realised we had a much bigger connection than we’d ever anticipated.  I learnt more about it in the process, and in exchange she taught me more about my own Chinese Astrology, Karmic astrology, Numerology and how it all ties into the moon.  No money exchanged hands, just knowledge, self realisation and so much to contemplate. Oh, it’s all going on! 

In other news, since I’ve been in Varkala (and this is the cheesiest phrase I’m going to say today), yoga and meditation has found me, and bloody hell.  I went to a sunset yoga session with me mate jack and Rijas, again on a whim (and the promise of a sunset swim/beer after), and was enriched by the feeling and was encouraged to keep practicing by Rijas.  

Shiva Gardens offers morning yoga sessions with Maya, so I tried basic Hatha Yoga with a dash of Yoga Nidra (deep relaxation) at the end – it uses a moon gong (yes, I know….) to basically help put you into a deep trance, and if you’re lucky open up your third eye, or just put you to sleep. It’s a sublime way to start your day, and that gong just set me on some kind of new path.  It’s ridiculous. 

I’d practiced mindfulness at home a bit, on and off before I came away, but inevitably the pace of life, fatigue or the occasional hangover etc meant I didn’t keep it up, and I got lost in a sea of distraction – don’t we all?!

Meditation, and Yoga, so far is helping me to focus my mind, to see things more clearly, and helping me to feel balanced.  Making some time for myself to just relax, go inside, breath deeply (even if you don’t do all the body bending) is so rewarding.  I’m starting to realise what I really need to work on personally, and have a way/space to contemplate it.  I now see what all the fuss was about, and how all those Yoga types are so bloomin zen!  Mixed in with all the astrology I’ve been learning about I feel so much more connected to to who I am, and with the planet I live on.  At times it feels overwhelming.

I tell you this because even though I’m open minded, I was ignorant, and I had a healthy amount of scepticism about all these kind of things before I came here (which I suspect you’re experiencing right now).  However, people have come to me with this stuff.  I didn’t go searching any of it out, and it’s been so eye opening just being open to it all, the people I’ve met as a result and the journey it’s taking me on.

I’m also telling you this because the fact you’re reading this means you’re one of my friends and family, which hopefully means you know I’m a “normal” (for the most part anyway).  The fact this change is happening in me means it could happen to you too, if you want/need it.  It doesn’t have to feel all weird or scary.  You never know he good it might do for you too. 

I hesitated to write this blog because of the sheer volume of what I needed/wanted to say, whilst also hoping you wouldn’t judge or scoff too quickly about what’s happening to me – I was the one sitting on the beach in Goa all those months ago saying I thought the people on the beach practicing yoga or meditating at sunset looked a little odd, because I was self-conscious on their behalf and ignorant of the power of good it was doing for them.  Now, I’m the one thinking that’d be fucking beautiful way to watch a sunset! Ommmmmmm 🕉

I’m trying to do more yoga.  I’m learning the value of meditation.  I bought a fucking Tibetan singing bowl yesterday for fucks sake, and I spent hours traipsing around Varkala for just the right oil burner and incense stick holder to make my own Puja – something is happening to me.  I’m making more time for myself, I’m focusing, I’m opening up and looking inside. I’m switching my phone off more and more. And do you know what?  It feels great.  It all seems to make sense.

They said it would happen, and they might just have been right – I might be turning into a yogi/hippy OR I might just becoming more conscious (it’s not a dirty word, pipe down you at the back). Whatever you want to call it, whatever the reason, life feels pretty great and balanced for me right now.  

I’m not exactly planning on heading to an Ashram any time soon, but I am feeling so excited about what’s around the corner – like, as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve.