Nov 26 2014


          INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIFE     I’d like to share with you a potted version of emails from a very wise and wonderful friend, who guided me out of a crisis from across the other side of the world. I hope you might find it as helpful as I did. In order to stay alive and stay sane…every day..   THE BASICS BREATHE deeply and slowly and get some fresh air every day. DRINK plenty of pure water. EAT fresh live food – no dead industrial crap. Every day. Fresh organic veggies & fruit (not juice!), whole grains, beans, nuts & seeds, avocado – at the very least – very little sugar and salt and minimise the poisonous ethanol. You NEED this. To get anywhere. And SLEEP. Good sleep. Enough sleep. MOVE – lots of quick walks – or run if you can – or do plenty of good, low impact stuff, like yoga or swimming – anything that gets the blood going, outside as much as possible. PEOPLE Connect / reach out to other people in whatever way you can. POSITIVITY Write 3 positive things you are grateful for every day in a notebook. (This is crucial) Catch the inner chatter – take note when it is negative / self blame etc – and correct it – you wouldn’t talk to your baby like that or anyone else – or expect anyone to talk to you like that – so don’t do it to yourself… Reprogram the thought to the positive in any way at all -small and big – it all matters. Include a random act of kindness to others (just an appreciative email or a smile to a stranger or anything).   OK, once the basics are taken care of, I think the next mission (the self image etc.) will seem a LOT easier. And will start really working. Then everything else will fall into place.   BEING PRESENT   However, accept that it’s fine to cry – flow through the pain – a big delicious painful part of life is misery – if you’re not crying and in pain – then you’re not pushing yourself enough to have a better life and what the hell are you on this Earth for? People who climb Everest – you think they don’t expect pain and the feeling they are going to die? We are human beings and we do amazing things – that what we’re here for … a slug would do the same if she had the chance to take such control of her life.   Do not feel terrible FOR anyone – just feel terrible that life is so painful – but do NOT feel terrible like as in “guilty” – that is religious fucked up control shit. You are a shining light – an example and an inspiration to your others in taking control of life and making big moves to a higher ground. Even if it takes a while for people to see that – to get it – know that they definitely will – you have to be patient and KNOW that YOU are on your path and don’t expect anything from them – or anyone – just be. One of the keys to happiness is managing expectations.   CLEAR BOUNDARIES   Don’t feel guilty about setting clear boundaries and begin to make concessions because you feel bad – like ‘oh well, yeah, ok, I didn’t really mean it, you can come back and try this or try that or stay till this or that’ – NO!. Creating a boundary sends a signal that means start dealing with it! A clear boundary will help the other person kickstart the journey they need to go on. Anything else is just selfish crap to protect yourself from guilt or fear or general bad feelings.   FOCUSING ON LOVE   Keep catching yourself when you think or act based on a FEAR… think of and ACT on LOVE. All in life is either Fear or Love. LOVE OF YOURSELF AND OTHERS.   Simple meditation (even 3 minutes of closed eyes, silently repeating a word so you don’t think of anything else – or look towards the sunrise and count breaths or whatever just to give your mind a break) – By stopping thinking we can allow ourselves to see the truth.   Watch out when you use words to box yourself in unnecessarily. Stick with the hard work of training yourself to see the greatness of reality, including how the past does not have to shape your future. How today goes and tomorrow will be is all comes down to decisions and training. Your heart can and will be as open as it ever was – maybe even more so!! Throw off those shackles !!! And watch your words – they are powerful weapons we all wield unlicensed, often with highly destructive results. And about the bad stuff… Just remember it’s all about YOU – how can you think, feel, and be better in the situation; better, more compassionate, more centered, more objective, more loving of yourself which translates to compassion for others. It’s super hard; the central challenge for life itself. Notice and adjust one’s self only, rather than be hurt or shocked or freaked by others. So hard I know, but beyond simple, practical, self-protective actions like making sure whatever necessary barriers are in place against danger and harm, there only remains this self-focus, self-work, which leads to compassion and ultimately saves the day….   Obvious I know, but that’s what friends are for I guess, repeating the obvious, over and over…   And so, now I’m passing on his words, with gratitude and love.        

Oct 11 2013

Feel the fear and come to class anyway

I’m really looking forward to welcoming some new, curious students at my upcoming beginners’ workshops over the next two weekends. St.Margaret’s House in Meadowbank is having an Open Week from the 12-21 October and it’s great fun to be part of all the amazing activities including art exhibitions,  crafts, music and dance that are going to be on display to the general public. I am always amazed how a forbidding ugly looking building like this hides a buzzing hub of colour and creativity on the inside. 6 floors of artists’ studios, art exhibitions, theatre, Zumba, belly dance, burlesque, judo, massage, self-help groups,  craft workshops etc. etc. The variety of activities on offer seem to be growing all the time. I’m happy to be getting enquiries from people who openly admit to being nervous and intimidated by coming to a class. When I first went to meditation lessons in a group I felt exactly the same way but wouldn’t dream of admitting it to anyone. I wanted to do everything perfectly, and was ashamed about not being able to relax! Needless to say, it didn’t help much. I almost quit as the anxiety I felt about ‘not being able to relax fully’ was getting too much for me. I’d created this whole idea about who I thought I ‘should’ be, and be able to do and it took an honest conversation with a friend to let go of the idea and give it another go. Learning to accept whatever I felt meant that I wasn’t ashamed of it, or fighting it, or wanting it to be any different from exploring and noticing what was there, without any judgement. It took a few years to really start to understand how this works. Accepting it is not the same as not wanting to progress or to give up trying. You hear this again and again from spiritual teachers – it is only by accepting where you are at that you can begin to change it. It is a seeming paradox that I struggled with for a long time. What on earth were they talking about? Acceptance can only happen when you extend a sense of kindness and compassion to yourself. When you accept something – a feeling, a thought that you have – then you can allow yourself to experience it without creating a wall of resistance, denial or avoidance. And then it goes away. As one of my first meditation teachers used to say, likening your endless stream of ever so important thoughts, one incessantly leading to another, to noisy cats; ‘don’t feed the cats just because they are miaowing, as they will just come around and miaow some more. That is not the way to quieten them down. Ignore them enough and they will learn to go away’. So it is in this spirit that I welcome all newcomers to my beginners’ workshops this and next weekend in Studio 6.17 at 12-1 on both Saturdays and Sundays. I welcome you to an atmosphere that is free of judgement, competitiveness or stress. This is about learning to manage your stress as we all get stressed. This is about treating yourself well, as we all need to treat ourselves well. This is about starting to understand your habits and your self-concepts. This is about quietening down enough to notice what is there inside your mind and body. And if you find your body doesn’t do what you want it to do, or what you think it should do, and if during relaxation your mind is like a busy intersection of thoughts with horns blaring and drivers with road rage, or a very very long, frustrating traffic jam, that’s OK too. We’ve all been there. Or your thoughts might seem like miaows from a cute but annoying little cat that is begging for attention, because every time it miaows you reward it with attention or food. It will live if you ignore it for a bit. And become much less annoying. If you don’t know what on earth I’m talking about now, trust me. Just show up on the mat enough times, and you will. Eventually. How ever long that takes.