This blog contains bad language, adult themes and sexual content, basically all the good stuff.
Just for a moment, imagine if your Dad wrote a dirty book.
I bet that caught my family’s attention, but alas (thank f**k?!) it isn’t Poppa Holliday who’s taken a playful nom de plume to put suggestive pen to smutty paper, its Poppa Morton, aka Rocky Flintstone.
Most people would try to ignore it and pretend it had never happened – but not Jamie. Instead, he decided to read it to the world in a hilarious episodic comedy podcast that’s made me literally spit my tea out, laugh out loud on buses, public places, inappropriate places and make actual snorting noises on more than one occasion.
“My Dad Wrote a Porno” has kept me company, made me properly belly laugh and reinforced my love and pride for my homeland, in terms of the sharp English wit, humour and general ability to take the piss. Bravo! (Fuck off).
Basically, if you like fun, frivolity, people with excellent laughs, really badly written porn with a poor (at best) grasp of female anatomy, then I’m saying you should download it and listen to it on whatever device or platform makes you happy… There’s even two books to catch up on you lucky things. Google it.
Having spent 7 weeks in the pleasure of her company, the unique, subtle yet powerful energy of Cusco has become clear to me – this is a place for healing and growth for all, especially those with courage, curiosity and an open heart.
You could call it esoteric, magical even, but there’s definitely an extra level to Cusco – an ethereal dimension beyond the guide books and tourist trails, where Mother Natures secrets, Inca power and healing can be discovered, if you want to find them. The Inca knew it too, and have left their own secrets.
It’s all for you.
First off, “Massage Lady, Massage? Pedicure? Manicure?” you hear them cry: the girl with the laminated tarif list as you pass them by, on your way to one of the many top notch Ceviche, Vegan or Organic restaurants on offer for a good healthy feed.
Then, there’s the natural Shamanic visionary/hallucanegenic plant medicines that South America and Peru is especially are famous for – Huachuma and Ayahuasca – available if you want to try them. I did, and Nature rewards courage – my rewards for doing so were mind altering, beyond words, putting a chink in the armour of how I perceive reality (loads more to say on this here).
INCA POWER PLACES
From within the City walls of Cusco, to the surrounding towns and villages of the Sacred Valley and beyond, there’s plenty of Inca ruins to discover, from the oldest “lost” citadel of Machu Picchu, secretly concealed from the Spanish in the mountains, high above Aguas Calientes, to the newest kid on the block, Vinicuna Mountain (Rainbow Mountain): a natural phenomenon and a well kept secret until recently, rewarding travellers in search of something rare: places of beauty as yet untainted by tourists.
Ifyou visit some of these places at just the right time, like Sunrise at Equinox, or listen and look closely enough, initiates can discover extra levels of hidden detail from the shadows cast, significant to ancient rituals dedicated to the Sun and Moon, and impressive astrological alignments revealing a further level of sophistication of civilizations past, if you go in search of them.
It’s all here to be experienced and discovered, to be let into her secret, to be initiated, if you want it, if you listen closely, if you’re curious enough to go looking for it, if you’re brave enough to try it, or just to wonder Why? SHAMANIC EXPERIENCE
They say that Huachuma (San Pedro) and Ayahuasca give you exactly what you need. For me, this extends to Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
At times I felt alone, anxious, isolated, but by tuning into the energy, connecting with the apus (mountain spirits) and Pachamama (Mother Earth), this place has the power to heal and transform – she has given me time to reflect, to hold space and reconnect to the parts of me that I’d become disconnected from, to contemplate on just how far I’ve come, where I am now, where I’m going, and to meet some beautiful souls along the way.
FFF travel notes: I highly recommend staying at Casa de la gringa to meet likeminded conscious travellers.
I’ve learnt a lot about myself, like the ways I distract myself from feeling the loneliness, and how to heal with unconditional love.
Energetically, if you listen closely, you’ll learn that Andean Cosmology is about Hard Work (intention), to Always be Learning and Love – a mantra in itself, which has saturated every interaction I’ve had with the people I’ve met in Cusco, all of them teaching me, inspiring me, and the reason I’ve stayed for so long.
So where do I go from here?
Armed with a renewed sense of invigoration, balance and integration, it’s day #321 and I’m taking on 48 hours of bus from Cusco to the Amazon Jungle of Pucallpa, to visit Mama Ayahuasca, plucking up the courage to put more holes in that armour, and to journey onwards and inwards.
NAMASTAY – travel resource for conscious travellers
On the topic of accommodation, and following a bugging feeling I’ve had for a while now, I’ve decided to create a shared resource: a list of hostels/places that appeal to travellers on a spiritual, more aware path, called “NAMASTAY“.
It’s in the early stages, but I’d like it to become a word of mouth crowd sourced reference point, such that #globalfamily can easily be guided and connected on the move.
If you’ve stayed somewhere where the awareness/energy/vibration was just great, you’ll know the kind of vibe I’m getting at in terms of place and people: the energy, the pure hearts, the raising of collective awareness, bonding over something greater than ourselves rather than alcohol or drugs.
What I’d like from you is to click the link below and add your recommendations of hostels and places, so that other conscious travellers that fit that same vibe can easily find their next destination:
I’ve been meaning to write this blog for some time now. Let’s start with a little anecdote – back in the day on holiday, a friend of mine started an anarchic running joke, calling every stray dog she saw “Steve”, regardless of sex.
Dumballers being Dumballers, these kinds of thing catch on like wildfire and pretty soon we were all at it.
Y’see, in India there are a ton of stray dogs, wild and free roaming the streets and beaches, as much a feature of Indian culture as the many sacred cows, monkeys or piles of discarded coconut shells that punctuate her hot, fragrant and dusty streets.
…we’d say as we passed a dog, any dog, all dogs. If you say it in the right pitch they almost prick up their ears as if it were their actual name too, and just for a moment they were individuals, they had a personality, an identity. For a moment it’s like you knew them, and they knew you… kinda… but they were noticed. Some even let you pet them, a welcomed and much appreciated liberty for this dog-lover.
This frivolity grew from being a game and into a habit. When the Dumballers left I carried on the tradition with me, sharing the fun with other travellers for shits and giggles, and so the #steveappreciationsociety was born.
I even named my guitar Steve, because at the time I couldn’t take my guitar playing seriously either.
THE PLOT THICKENS…
As I moved around from state to state, town to town, the Steve habit started turning into something else. I was starting to take notice of the Steves as much as the People, if not more.
I started to notice details. Obvious ones at first like how the breed, shape and size would change according the climate and setting. Then I started to notice wider details, like if they worked alone or in packs, if they were friendly, approachable, scared or aggressive, if they were well fed, in good condition, skinny and mangey, how they survived, how the locals treated them etc.
The more places I travelled to, the more I could reflect back and notice correlations between Steve’s temperament and the social undercurrent of the places I’d visited.
I’d never looked at dogs so much before. What previously had just been background scenes with interchangeable parts suddenly had specific players that were no longer invisible.
As my awareness grew I started applying the theory, using it as a rough indicator for new places as I looked out the train, bus or TukTuk window, and for the most part it’s been bob-on.
For example, in Goa, the Steve’s were all pretty playful, friendly, solid, good condition, tended to move around in gangs with a feeling that everything was pretty cushty, that they’d protect you if you asked, and I’d’ve adopted all of them if I could.
Arriving in Kolkata, I watched from my Ambassador window as independent, stocky, battle scarred but solid Steve’s roamed the streets – a quite obvious sense they had to fight for their suppers, but could each definitely hold their own in a much tougher competitive city environment – that was to be an accurate echo of the backstreet vibes of Kolkata.
Hitting Delhi, the connection became more obvious still – Delhi Steve’s were skinny, dusty, much smaller, mangy, usually alone and scared, eating anything and everything they could get their snouts on, even if that was a babies nappy – a distressing echo of the destitute and poverty stricken conditions in Delhi, and the many street kids who have to survive it.
Landing in Kathmandu, I was surrounded by the familiar and comforting sight of scruffy, friendly Steve’s, and I realised how much they’d become a part of my trip.
When I hit San Marcos in Guatemala, another level of intrigue hit me. San Marcos is a very nice place to be, a yogi/hippy/tourist haven, and on the outside it’s all sparkly and friendly and safe, which it is really.
Like the people, flying halfway across the world meant the breed of street dog had now completely changed – compared to the typical stocky street Steve’s I was used to in India and Nepal, I was seeing a lot of smaller lap-dog Steve’s, larger and fluffier husky/wolf-like Steve’s who, for the most part, all looked pretty comfortable, lazy and pretty complacent in their lakeside habitats quite frankly. A clear and good indication that food was plentiful, and that being a street dog in San Marcos was a pretty sweet deal man.
However, despite the glittery sheen there were several Steve’s who shied away whenever I tried to show them love, cowering away in fear, and it just made me think, “what happens to these Steve’s in this place of paradise and tranquility to make them act this way?”
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
San Marcos is definitely a shiny happy place on the outside, but those anxious Steves gave away her slightly malignant underbelly, which was also described to me by some local friends, confirming my couch flip-flop-filosophy theory further.
MEANWHILE, IN SOUTH AMERICA…
When I touched down in Peru, I started observing the Steve’s of course, trying to get sense of South America and Peru. They were tough to read: I struggled to see the same breed twice, a lot looked like hybrids/mongrels in one way or another (think Sausage Steve’s with Labradors), small Steve’s in tee shirts and hoodies, and the indigenous Peruvian “Incan Orchid” breed is an adorably weird hairless alien-looking thing. It’s like they didn’t make sense at all, an ironic echo of my confusion and hesitations about South America! (see my last blog).
I’m glad to say that that feeling has now completely passed. Not only that, the diversity, quirky individuality and friendly mien of the Peruvian Steve’s has just made me fall head over heels in love with everything that Peru and South America has to offer – new and unchartered territories, of both mind and matter.
Look to the Steve’s – the Animal Kingdom can tell us more than we realise.
I realised after filming this that I was making myself anxious because I was feeling a craving. A craving for the clicks, the synchronicities, the magical treasure hunt. Being alone in Peru I suddenly lost that connection, and now I realise it was the craving for that feeling that was what was making me feel so lost, small, alone and anxious. I know I get stuck in my head and over-think things, but in the simplicity is the truth: realizing this, all I really had to do was re-remember to Let Go of the craving, to see things as they really were, not how I wanted them to be, to move with ease, to free my mind and to allow my South American adventure to unfold.
Feeling lost, small and very down in Cusco. Looking for happiness outside of me, remembering that it comes from within.
Happiness, liberation, maturity are all possible once we accept who we are. We have to reach some kind of agreement with ourselves as to who we really are, and accept our thinking, whether it be good or bad. Whatever thoughts which may arise are allowed to flow through us with no judgment, and without trying to suppress them.
When we try hide or avoid feeling those denser feelings, they get chucked into a rubbish bag, branded as “bad feelings I don’t want to feel”. At some point that bag can/will explode (and can even lead to mental illness).
Instead, we can be mindful of, recognize, work with and transform what is “negative” – the power of the tiger or monkey mind put to good use to know thyself, and to free your mind.
It was day #261 (Saturday 24th September in old money), and “The Day” had finally arrived.
Giddy with excitement like a kid on Christmas Eve, unable to wipe the smile off my face and barely able to stand still, hopping nervously and excitedly from foot to foot, gripping the barrier in the Arrivals Hall at Lima Airport with my heart fit to bursting – any moment now my friends would be walking through those unassuming arrival hall doors would reunite me with familiar faces in this unfamiliar land, halfway across the world.
[I’ve never given Arrivals Halls much credit or even a moments thought before, but then I’ve never been the one waiting for someone, or vice versa, so I went all a bit Richard Curtis about the whole thing… they could probably make more of it, just saying…]
You don’t realise there’s a piece of you missing till it comes back and immediately takes the piss out of you, or how much you missed that signature Bold-strut until it’s strutting towards you. T’internet, blogging, whatsappalanches, social media are all a great comfort and e-lifeline/umbilical cord to those I cherish, but you just can’t beat a Bold IRL.
Wellll, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em… so he did…
The next 15 days would take us (at an eye-watering pace) to Lima, Huacachina and Cusco, crossing Peru’s southern border to briefly dip our toes in the wonders of Bolivia – La Paz, Lake Titicaca and back again to Cusco… holiday warp-speed, engage!
This bumper-edition features two very special guest editors: the one, the only, Mr Richard Bold, & the fearless, unflappable (dark-blonde) Italian, Marica Dapporto.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then buckle up, and Mr Bold will begin…
1. LIMA [RB]: Lima could be described as a dump if you go to the wrong places: which we may have done. But, amongst the inner city ring-road motorway and the proliferation of terrifying poverty, a fecund and electric overflow of humanity can be found.
Taking one wrong turn led us into the midst of a none-more-Catholic parade: widows wailing, young men either chanting or forcing their incantations through a full range of brass instruments, musical notation sellotaped to their backs for the following musician behind to follow. In the centre of it all, a golden Christ held aloft on the shoulders of the devoted. Swaying left and right to the beat of gospel horns as thick copal incense fills the air, the procession forges forward through the packed crowd.
All of a sudden the grey, dilapidated city had come alive with music and voices and, with the turn of another corner, silence fell once again.
TRAVELLER NOTES: we stayed in the Barranco district of Lima for a laid-back bohemian vibe; lots of bars and restaurants, views of the Pacific Ocean and well worth a stroll. We recommend bunking at Barranco Backpackers Inn, which nestled us nicely amongst it. Mira Flores is about a 15/20 minute walk up-town from there.
2. PERUVIAN HISTORY [JH]: Upon a recco, we hit up the Museo Larco to do us some learnin’, be well cultured n’that, and marvel at “the finest gold and silver collection from Ancient Peru” (clang). If you believe the history books then “Peru is one of 6 regions of the world where the first civilizations emerged independently, uninfluenced by other societies and known as the Cradles of Civilization”. Peru was first inhabited some 14,000 years ago. You’re probs alllll dying to know what the other 5 are now, aren’t ya – China, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Mesoamerica… History fun FACTS!
…and then, discretely tucked away in a separate building there’s the erotic archaeological collection, noted as one of the “most visited Peruvian tourist attractions” (sniggers).
Trying to be terribly grown-up and respectful about the whole thing, I even attempted to read the plaques underneath the exhibits, and I did learn a bit about what it all meant, but there’s just something about statues with giant stiffies, depictions of various sexual acts painted and sculpted on (yet more) pots, and the way they’re presented in a serious way – a contrast of content and form – that just brings out the child in you – like when you read the Kama Sutra for the first time at your mates parents place – feeling naughty for taking photos, snatching a sneaky picture here and there, and I could sense we were all moving at a slightly quicker more embarrassed pace through this collection than the one before. I don’t know why we all feel a little awks when it comes to sex and bodies and stuff, I mean Life’s a sexually transmitted disease after all! but I mean, come on… when faced with relics like this… who wouldn’t snigger a little?
3. HUACACHINA: a 5 hour bus (book with Cruz Del Sur in Lima) will cost you around 40 soles each and deliver you to the desert Oasis and sand dunes of Huacafuckingchina (their words, not mine) – a beautiful one-horse town with just 96 inhabitants, who maximize their assets by exclusively offering Dune buggying and sandboarding experiences to the truckloads of tourists arriving each day.
You can join a group sand buggy from 4-6pm (to catch the sunset) for only 45 soles a piece (~£10), or a private buggy for 50 soles each for an hour. Both options include sand-boarding, which entails lying down on a beat up piece of wood vaguely resembling a snowboard, throwing yourself head first, elbows in! down a sand dune, and is a lot of fun.
4. CUSCO [JH]: Catching our first glance of the vast and expansive Andes Mountains out our plane windows “THIS is more like it!” I thought. At times, it felt as if we were close enough as to skim our shirt sleeves against them as our Captain skillfully threaded the plane through the eye of an Incan needle that was the narrow mountainous approach into Cusco – “the belly button of the world”, and the epicenter of the ancient Incan civilization. If that wasn’t breathtaking enough, the 3,467m (11,374ft) [FACTS*] altitude literally took our breath away. There are several remedies to help tourist with altitude malaise, such as chewing on Coca leaves – new experiences.
*to put things into perspective, the U.K. barely raises her regal head more than 162m (531 ft) above sea level.
TRAVELLER NOTES: We highly recommend staying at Casa de la Gringa in San Blas, Cusco. A breathless climb for the newly arrived, but worth it for the warm and cosy refuge that awaits. Single occupancy costs 50 Peruvian Soles (about 12 quid) – slightly more expense than my usual backpackers budget, but deffo worth the extra investment for the home from home feeling. They also facilitate San Pedro ceremonies from here for 340 soles pp.
5. CEVICHE: [RB] Despite since becoming a vegan (a disconcerting viewing of Cowspiracy’s fault), ceviche is the finest use of fish since the finger. If you ever come anywhere near South America then take on as much of this citrus-soaked wonderfulness as possible. Greens on Cusco’s main square was a massive find, allowing us to gorge ourselves on the stuff…
6. BOLIVIA: [JH]: ahhhhhhh road border crossings, how I’ve missed thee. We crossed into Bolivia through the rather rough-round-the-edges scruffy border town of Desaguadero. The first thing that struck me were the bowler hats, everywhere.
I’ve borrowed this from the Internet: “Since its invention in 1849 in London, many famous people have been sporting bowler hats. You may recall the likes of Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy and even Mr.Potato head from Toy Story 2 wearing these types of hats. However, none of them have worn the hat with the same style and flair as the “Cholitas” of South America – specially the women in Bolivia.”
But WHYYYYY? The story goes as follows:
Back in Manchester, shortly after the bowler hats were invented, two brothers were manufacturing a line of bowler hats. Their plan was to sell them to the British railway workers who were working in Bolivia at the time. However, when the hats arrived to South America they found that they were way too small to fit the heads of the men. So, instead of throwing them out they decided to create a “fictional” story to tell the Bolivian Cholitas. This story was that all the fashionable women in Europe were going around wearing these bowler hats and it was the new fashion trend! The locals embraced them as part of their traditional clothing, and nowadays the bowler hat is part of Bolivian national pride, the El Sombrero.
We also learnt an extra level of cultural subtlety to El Sombrero:
1. Wearing the hat in the middle of the head in a smart upright position indicates “Hands off Chico, I’m married”
2. A subtle tilt denotes “I’m available (or possibly widowed)”.
3. Wearing them to the back of the head jokingly means that their relationship is “complicated”.
7. THE DEATH ROAD: Ciao! Marica here. The Death Road (Bolivia, La Paz) was one of the best and worst experiences of my life so far. We began at 4700 metres above sea level in light snow, which quickly turned into totally obscuring fog and freezing rain. Hands were frozen and our sunglasses rendered as useless as a frosted window.
Thankfully, this slowly turned into clearer skies and eventually beautiful sunshine as we descended, revealing the incredible peaks and terrifying drops as the road simultaneously went from Tarmac to the uncertain gravel we would get used to over the next 5 hours.
My personal style was to remain seated the entire time and focus generously on my brakes, as the rest of the team stood pointlessly (in my opinion) on their pedals and hurtled to certain death at every unguarded corner. No barriers, sometimes less than 3m width of road and 1000m crevasses to try and ignore as my vertigo screamed its warnings in my ears.
My style of riding meant that the rest of the team had plenty of rest stops as we progressed and I was given the proud title of “slowest in 20 years” but at least I didn’t suffer the fate of one of our team: a rival squad of riders mixed up with us at one point, shaking the grip of our most confident member, a German whose name escapes me. He came off his bike hard and managed to dislocate his shoulder!
All we could do was make uneducated medical suggestions (including the group leader) as he nearly passed out from the pain, sat on a convenient road-side barrier. We had been told – in humour we thought – that statistically only 5 out of every 6 riders make it. Our party was 6, so losing the German meant the remaining 5 were safe for the rest of the trip! #everycloud
The landscape was phenomenal, the riding more than exciting, and I never thought I’d be able to achieve anything like it. My war against my fear of heights achieved a huge victory. More please!
TRAVELLER NOTES: There are tons of agencies offering tours to the Death Road in La Paz. We booked ours through Free Bikes, offices near the Witches Market and the main Bus station. We bargained a deal for 300 Bolivianos each (35 quid) for the most economical bikes. A lot of companies take large groups – we had 6 in ours and I think that’s Free Bikes MO – depends on your preference, but fewer people suited our taste.
8. WITCHES MARKET, LA PAZ [JH]: Encountering macabre dead Llama feotuses, lotions and potions at the Witches Market in La Paz is an insight into Bolivias soul. At first sight, the Witches Market didn’t seem so witchy. For the first 10 meters or so it’s just stalls with small figures stapled on top of each other, some herbal tea and old women sitting lazily on the stairs of the cobblestone streets. You’d never guess that this is the place to buy powdered dog’s tongue, which can be secretly added to a man’s food to make him loyal to his lover like a dog is to its master. But it is – for the right price.
9. TOURS OF LA PAZ PRISON [JH]: Turning up drunk at the entrance of La Paz prison, and asking the Guards in bad Spanglish “can we, like, come in?” because we were told that was “a thing“.
“After gaining notoriety from the book Marching Powder, the not-exactly-legal tours of this bizarre prison without guards became a popular part of backpackers’ tours through Bolivia. Inside, visitors could observe a prison unlike any other – where inmates with the right resources were afforded luxuries unthinkable anywhere else like saunas, alcohol, and full-service restaurants.”
Sadly, this “tour” is no longer available… but disdainful looks from affronted Prison Guards is freely available to any drunken tourist who wants it.
10. LAKE TITICACA: ISLA DEL SOL [JH]: Ahhhhhhhhhh, after the hectic fast paced schedule of the preceding days, arriving by boat to “The birthplace of the Sun” felt like coming home to Lake Atitlan. Space, peace, horizon, lake, pure terrain (no cars), lots of Sun and our home for at least 48 hours this time… a chance for some RnR and to be swathed and swaddled by Incan history, as it’s believed their Sun God was born here… an ideal spot to settle in, catch up on some much needed meditation, and to watch Sunrise and Sunset.
We opted to stay on the Nonorthern part of the Island, Challapampa, which has a beach and is close to some of the famous pre-Columbian ruins. It’s a small farming/fishing community with a basic but pretty plentiful approach/supply of accommodation, restaurants and shops etc. We didn’t bother booking any accommodation in advance – as soon as you step off the boat there’s a swarm of local lads/tour guides, poised and ready to either take you to where you want to go or to help you find somewhere, but it’s easy enough to just wander around and find somewhere you like by yourself. Walking through the small village to the beach, we managed to find a hostel with a balcony view (recommended to make the most of those sunsets), costing me 35 Bolivianos for a bed in a Compartido (shared) room, and around 130 for a Privado.
The 70 sq km island was reminiscent of my beloved Isles of Scilly – small enough to walk from tip to toe in 4 hours, and definitely merits at least night or two – you can then devote a day each to the northern and southern ends, taking a walking circuit of the main sights across a long day. There were some that arrived with the intention of hiking the Island in a day, which is possible but far too much of a box-ticking exercise for me. If you have the time, I’d highly recommend sticking around a while, drinking in the quiet serenity and gorging on plenty of Trout before heading back to the port of Copacabana.
11. GOODBYES [JH]: Writing this from Casa de la Gringa, back in Cusco, some days after those good eggs left, reeling emotionally and physically from their fleeting but warming visit and excited about what South America has in store for me next.
Central America was never on my destination list for this trip…
Back in June, I was in Asia, in Kathmandu, the other side of the world. The next logical step after that would be to hop skip and a’jump over to Tibet, Myanmar, or Thailand etc, but if you read my recent blog You Can Go Your Own Way, then you’ll know I threw logic out the window some time ago.
After Denso ultimately departed Nepal destined for Blighty 😢 I had a decent period of procrastination & inertia, somewhat stuck whilst I digested my Indian adventure and mused about my present situation in Nepal: y’see, it wasn’t really the right season to be there – monsoon season was upon us so the humidity was simply ghastly darling.
I was surrounded by keen beans all pumped and ready to go, or freshly back from Trekking, but to be honest I just wasn’t feeling it, and I mean, what the hell else do you do in Nepal if it’s not trekking (FML)? I just had this feeling of not really knowing what I was doing there – but hey! you’re in Nepal, so you know, you suck it up and enjoy the present moment! Time operates differently now, and the Downtime is as important as The Go.
Enjoyment (read: many Everest beers) led to chance meetings (read: synchronicity) with Andy, and the goddess that is Kali Indigo (off’ve El Salvador). Whilst sat licking our hungover wounds (late) one morning in our Kathmandu hostel (Alobar1000), she told me about the Moon Course in San Marcos del Lago, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. It sounded perfect, and just what I was looking for. Later that same day in an entirely separate conversation, my roommate also told me about the Moon Course, that she’d done it and that it was life changing.
OK Universe, I get the hint.
After revelling in the delights of Nepal, a month and a half later I was booking 4 tickets, voluntarily subjecting myself to 4 flights (sorry Rebs), celebrating my 36th birthday in New York JFK and Dallas Airport, and all in all a 52 hour door-to-door journey to the other side of the world to arrive in Guatemala – from where the Rainbow takes its colours – and eventually my ultimate destination, Lake Atitlan.
I was lucky enough to spend 2 marvellous months and 7 magical days by the Lake, I found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I leave Del Lago, San Marcos and Guatemala changed, with it imprinted upon my soul and forever grateful that I came. Maltiox!
Today, I touched down in South America – a brand new shiny continent for me to explore, and another unexpected destination on my journey. First stop: Peru, and two glorious weeks with Richard Bold!
Whilst I was sad to leave my Guatemalan home and family behind I know I take them with me, and I can’t think of a better reason to move on and discover the next part of my treasure hunt – dam, I’ve missed that boy!
Only one more sleep till Bold Times are a’foot, and our 15 days of Funder begins!
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 beingwilling 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
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?”.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Start your day with 7 Buddha, 7 Mid, 7 Upper and 7 full yogic breaths.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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)
*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!
We can’t survive without oxygen, simples, and our biggest fear/threat therefore is dying, or more specifically not being able to breathe.
Biologically & physiologically, Oxygen is very detoxifying. We all only use about 15% of our full capacity on a daily basis, and it’s been proven that disease cannot survive in highly oxygenated environments.
Oxygen is basically the best health gift you can give yourself… If you do but one thing today, breathe slowly and deeply…
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!
To help you do that, I’ll detail some basic Prana Yama techniques in the next blog for you all to try. For now, here’s some science about… (cue dramatic X Factor-esque intro…)
OXYGEN: THE MOST VITAL ELEMENT ON EARTH!
From Oxygen, Life & Health Magazine
“The most vital element on earth is oxygen. Without it human life could simply not exist. Humans can live weeks without water and go without food for months but without oxygen, life could only carry on for a matter of moments.
No other element in the composition of the human body needs to be replaced on a second-by-second, minute-by-minute basis in order to keep the body functioning except oxygen.”
Ninety-percent (90%) of the body’s “life-energy” is created by oxygen. All functions of the body are regulated by oxygen:
• All cellular metabolism requires oxygen
• Our eliminative processes work to rid our bodies of waste and toxins thanks largely to oxygen
• The functions of our brains require an abundance of oxygen for the abilities to think, feel and act
• Circulation of the fluids in the body
• Metabolic functions, assimilation, digestion and elimination
• Oxygen helps purify the blood and boosts the immune system
• Oxygen is our natural defense against all disease
• Oxygen has a calming and stabilizing effect on the nervous system
Oxidation occurs at the cellular level of the body. It is part of that vital and complex process by which the body chemically converts nutrients into energy, and by which the body rids itself of toxins and other harmful materials. Without sufficiently high levels of oxygen (via oxygenation), oxidation cannot take place. Without oxidation, metabolic function and therefore life itself ceases.
Oxygen is required for the four basic components needed for our physical body:
Proteins, Carbohydrates, Water and Energy
1. Protein = Nitrogen + Carbon + Hydrogen + Oxygen
2. Carbohydrates = Carbon + Hydrogen + Oxygen
3. Water = Hydrogen + Oxygen
4. Energy = Oxygen + Carbohydrates
Scientists are now discovering the fact that low levels of oxygen in the human body can disrupt the body’s ability to function correctly, severely cripple the immune system, open the floodgates of illnesses and disease and instigate premature aging.
Deep breathing supplies the body with an abundance of oxygen!
Doctors now believe that the symptoms of chronic oxygen deficiencies in the human body begin initially with overall body weakness, fatigue and infection and progress later to chronic degenerative diseases such as cancer, arthritis, heart disease and so on.
Along with the oxygen depletion in the atmosphere these days, doctors point out that junk food is low in oxygen content and high in toxic preservatives. Eating junk food or chemically processed foods on a regular basis forces the body to use up more of its precious oxygen reserves than usual in order to oxidize the preservatives and metabolize the few nutrients left. Other oxygen robbing foods include processed white sugar and flour, caffeine-loaded drinks.
Physical and emotional stress also robs the body of large amounts of oxygen.
Symptoms of Oxygen Deficiency:
• Overall bodily weakness.
• Muscle aches
• Memory loss
• Irrational behaviour
• Circulation problems
• Poor digestion
• Acid stomach
• Low immune system
• Bronchial problems
• Bacterial, viral & parasitic infections
“Cancer has only one prime cause. It is the replacement of normal oxygen respiration of the body’s cells by oxygen-deficient cell respiration.” Dr. Otto Warburg, Nobel Prize for Cancer Research
“Simply put, disease is due to a deficiency in the oxidation process of the body, leading to an accumulation of toxins.” Dr. Albert Wahl