Five Different Pathways to Enlightenment: Train, Car, Boat or Plane (Or on Foot?!) Part I: Kundalini Yoga – ‘Train’

Kundalini Yoga

Train, Car, Boat or Plane… Train, Car, Boat or Plane… Train, Car, Boat or Plane… Take me back to the island; I was happy over there…’

Goes the lovely little song from 1957 that popped into my head when I was first inspired to write this article, in fact this series of articles. The ‘island’ is of course ‘Nirvana’; ‘Heaven on Earth’; ‘Eden’; ‘returning back to Source’; ‘reaching the final goal,’ or, to use the most common phrase – becoming ‘fully enlightened.’ There are many paths that will take us back to the island, some short, some lonnnnnnnnnnnnng (like lifetimes and lifetimes and lifetimes long), and then there are some that are super-duper fast-tracks. As different as these pathways are from one another, they all invariably lead us to the same destination:

Where we experience utter bliss. Total happiness. We know exactly who we are and exactly why we’re here, and what this thing called ‘Life’ is really all about. And then we follow that inner compass of knowing and get down to business!

In this series of articles I want to talk about some of the most effective, tried and tested methods of getting back to the island – the island that is within all of us, no exceptions. I am going to share with you some of my –whole new level of crazy, hard-to-believe, but, I promise you, 100% true— experiences of them, and I will discuss the perks and pitfalls of each one. There will in total five articles, each one on a different way to reach the final goal – we will cover a broad spectrum from religion to psychedelic drugs and everything in between – yoga, meditation, shamanism, psychoanaylsis— all the usual suspects. To help us along the way I will be using my specially created musical, metaphysical metaphorical structure of ‘Train, Car, Boat, Plane, and on Foot’ to guide us on our journey.

Before we start, can I ask you a question: Are you happy?

Sometimes life just ticks along nicely. The days, weeks and months pass by (always seeming to go too fast of course), a few ups here, a few downs there, but la dee dah, swings and roundabouts, overall life is smooth enough to enjoy the ride…. we’re coasting. Other times life is like a fairytale: we are blessed with those utterly blissful moments (or maybe, if we’re lucky, even extended periods) where everything falls perfectly into place. We’re sailing. Maybe time stands completely still when we really connect intimately with another person, even if just for a fleeting second: a romantic partner, a friend, a family member, or maybe even a complete stranger?; Perhaps we’re standing on a mountain top, on a beach, in a field, on a bridge, or at the top of a very tall building and we look out at the world around us and think ‘Wow, isn’t this planet we live on absolutely AMAZING?!’ ‘I am totally in LOVE right now’. Maybe we see a film, a play, an artwork, read a few inexplicably brilliant lines in a book, or hear some incredible music that moves us in a way we simply can’t explain in words, and somehow the essence of it resonates on the very deepest level of our being. Maybe we simply have one of those ‘good hair days’ or go on one of those holidays where it’s just like a dream- one beautiful synchronicity after another? All is right with the world. Ah, this is the stuff life is made of.

Want more of this? – enlightenment beckons.

But what about when all is wrong with the world? What about the ‘bad hair days’ when everything that could go wrong, does go wrong? We’re drowning. When that trip away you’d dreamed about for months turns out to be one disaster after another?; When your relationship breaks down completely?; When you find out you have a serious illness?; What if there is a bad accident?; What happens if someone you deeply care about dies?; What happens if you lose your job?; What happens if you lose everything? What happens when you look around at the state of the world and think, quite rightly- WTF?! ; and what happens if you realise that the ‘life’ you have been living is a complete sham and that in those days, weeks, months and YEARS that you thought were just coasting, ‘ticking along nicely,’ you have been slowly suffocating, following a path that is not the path of your soul—and as such will never make you happy— and you need to break out of it RIGHT NOW before it is too late?! What happens when life is a petrifying roller-coaster and you just want to get off?!

Enlightenment beckons.

Enlightenment is ALWAYS beckoning. It is beautiful and wonderful and absolutely key to the process of becoming enlightened to work out how to expand the ‘good hair day’ moments of BLISS until we can dwell in them more and more often, and even one day, permanently. This is our natural state of being. It must be said however that it’s often easier to hear the call to step on the path when we feel like we have nothing left…when we bottom out…when we feel we’ve lost everything. Sometimes we’ve managed to burn all our bridges and it’s the only avenue left to walk down, and it’s an act of complete surrender, as opposed to any classic idea of ‘seeking’ to become enlightened.

However we get there- the hard way or the easy way- during this act of surrender to something greater- the big questions come knocking: Who am I?; Why am I here?; Why are any of us here?; What is the nature of reality?; What is ‘God’? Why is the world so f*cked up?… 

Need an answer to any of these questions? – enlightenment beckons.

Whether we realise it or not we’re actually all already on this path – we are all destined to arrive at this internal knowing – it is our true nature, no exceptions. Rather than a seeking it is a process of uncovering – a peeling back of layer upon layer until we reach the very centre of ourselves, which is filled with light, no exceptions. So this is happening whether we are aware of it or not, but answering the call and traversing the path consciously REALLY speeds up the process. We are all souls traversing the gauntlet of evolution, we’re all moving towards the same place (that permanent bliss state I’m referring to – where we remember who we are and start living from that knowing (and let me get something perfectly straight from the beginning- this bliss will exist no matter what is happening in our lives or the external world – coasting, sailing, OR drowning. IT IS ALL HAPPENING FOR A REASON. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional? Indeed. We are in human bodies – illness, loss and death are givens – right? Indeed. But what are illness, loss and death? Transformation, rebirth… a cycle that never ends, whether on an individual, collective, planetary, or universal scale.) But here’s the thing: we humans DO have free will, we do choose the rate at which our soul evolves (and that of our planet) and to be perfectly honest, right now our world needs us to hurry the process up if we’re going to be able to turn around this beautiful planet that we have abused and neglected so much, and if we (the human race) want to continue to live on her shores, we better get waking up fast and get walking down that path! Only once we remember who we truly are can we be the people we need to be for ourselves, one another, and our ailing planet to help her to heal. We can choose the easy road or the hard road, up to us, one way or another we’re going to get there.

Want some tips on how to take the easy road?

The only question that remains to be asked is (permit me to get a bit analogous on you): ‘Would Sir, or Madam, like to get there by train, car, boat, or plane (or on foot?)….

Part I: Kundalini Yoga – ‘Train’

train

Gazing out of the window on long train journeys is one of my absolute favourite things to do. I sit back, put some great music on and delight in the passing fields, hills, trees, clouds in the sky and gaze longingly at farmhouses that I wish I owned… it is a relaxing, hassle-free way to travel and from your seat you get to see everything. You are guided there, there is a driver and he drives the train. It is on tracks, the routes are well planned out and thousands of people travel down these same routes every year. You know you’re going to get to your destination, you’re in safe hands. God bless our wonderful railways!

So. If we were travelling towards enlightenment on the train, what would this equate to in the world of spiritual pursuits? Quite simply it would equate to anything that is taught. Anything that has a syllabus, a rule-book, a teacher… Yoga, Tai Chi, and other systems of body-mind alignment are the train, these are systems that have long been credited with helping people reach enlightenment, and are awesome.

The journey to enlightenment, put another way could be called the journey to perfect alignment. Systems like Yoga and Tai Chi give specific postures, and series’ of movements, that quiet the mind and are designed to, over time, bring the body into perfect physical alignment, not just with itself, but with the mind, and ultimately with the Spirit. When we are guided to perform these postures correctly, it can be REALLY pleasurable for our bodies, and also really chills us out and takes a load off our—often very frazzled— minds. But much more than that, sustained practice can, and does lead to full on enlightenment. Alignment really is enlightenment.

Let’s take yoga. I love yoga. It has been said that it takes around 22 years to reach full enlightenment by a completely DEDICATED daily Hatha yoga practice. So if you do your sun salutations every day, and your bending, twisting and inverting, pigeon-posing and downwards face-dogging, and live and breathe yoga, yoga, yoga, this classic form that focuses mainly on the asanas (postures), will take you to the final goal in roughly 22 years. Now I absolutely love Hatha yoga, and I still do my sun salutations every day, and throw in some bending and twisting etc. but…

 22 years?! Screw that. I want to get there quickerAnd that’s why I do Kundalini yoga.

Sometimes I want to take the fast train. Kundalini yoga can do what Hatha yoga does in 22 years in 1, yes, ONE. Let me be clear about something- it is not about developing the perfect ‘yoga body’ and being able to contort yourself into all sorts of mind-boggling positions and posting your feats on Instagram– nope, it is about unblocking the energy circuits in your body so that the energy can flow freely. The energy that flows through the body, circulating round the body’s meridian lines and most powerfully at the 7 main centres that are known as the chakras is the blissful life-force energy that courses through your veins in the enlightened state. Hatha takes 22 years (at its most effective) because it works so much so on the physical body and so little on the energy body, whereas Kundalini focuses mainly on the energy body, but also works the physical, mental and emotional bodies as well: it’s fun for all our bodies- we actually have TEN of them! Hatha yoga is GREAT for the mind and body, and it is wonderful to practice this, but without the Kundalini element, the Spirit remains untouched, and we have to be working on the level of Spirit to get into the enlightened realms.

I want people to experience this so much I teach it.

kundalini awakening

So how do we learn how to feel it?

The Kundalini energy lies dormant in all of us, like a coiled snake lying sleeping at the base of the spine. The enlightenment journey is the process of the Kundalini ‘waking up’ and then over a period of months or years, making its way up the spine, cleansing and clearing us out as it does so—unblocking all of the chakras – until it can flow unhindered out through the top of the head, and then circulate back into our bodies, bringing with it the ultimate wisdom of the universe (as we are emptied out of all our old rubbish and ready to receive it.)

Empty yourself in order to be filled’.

So ‘awakening’ is when we awaken to this energy that is present within our body, and if we start to practice Kundalini, then we begin to learn how to cultivate and circulate this energy around areas of our body as it gets to work unblocking the chakras. ‘Enlightenment’ in the realm of the physical is literally when we have unblocked all of our chakras and we have become able to feel this free-flow of energy move through the body to the extent that it flows freely up the spinal column and up and out of the top of the head – the crown- and connects us to our divinity – where it receives energy from the cosmos (which has always been ours to connect with), then comes down the front of the body and down through the navel point, root and feet and then the energy continues to circulate around the body, like your body is a scalextric set! The central point of this circuit is the heart centre – this is where the energy is to dwell and from which love flows out to the entire universe, to itself, from itself, and we become a clear channel for love, for spirit, an empty vessel filled with divine essence. This is our natural state of being; our mind-body-spirit complex functioning at its optimal level. You know what it feels like when you are standing in the pure air in a beautiful field of flowers in the countryside? ; Or on a mountaintop? That clarity, that purity, that ONENESS with nature, that everything is exactly as it is supposed to be? THAT is a glimpse of our natural state. But does it need only be glimpses? No! The more we know how to unblock, cultivate and manage this energy, it can be permanent! But 99.9999999 % of the time, to begin with, it’s blocked.

So what blocks this energy?: negative thoughts; repressed emotions; physical illness (of any sort); psychological patterns and complexes that have been generated by our upbringing and our society; trauma; buried resentment; karmic baggage we have built up over this lifetime, or in most cases, over many. These blockages can reside in specific chakras: a fear of being abandoned would reside in the root chakra for example, which is situated at the base of the spine and is connected to our sense of belonging and security, and to our early childhood. Another example would be: if we repress our emotions it will likely manifest in the throat chakra, literally blocking our ability to speak our truth. Or there might be a blockage of the heart chakra, which makes us find it impossible to truly love. So we are contending with unblocking ALL of this- whatever our personal baggage may be, and all the collective baggage that we all carry, man, do homo sapiens carry a LOT of collective baggage given the extent to which we have completely forgotten who we are – (fyi we’re God, as is everything else in the universe – this can be fully KNOWN and EXPERIENCED). During this amnesia we’ve destroyed so much of our beautiful planet that we have to add on top of the personal and collective baggage the environmental factors of the polluted world we now live in (through the bad choices we’ve made – free will, remember?) where we are more often than not over-worked, over-stressed, and over-whelmed by the onslaught of stimulation, artificiality and unnatural forces we are faced with every single day. We need to get back to who we are through practices like Kundalini which unlock our true selves, and back to nature, preserving and honouring the unspoilt places on our planet and taking steps to reverse the damage caused across the rest of it. We need to re-find that clarity, and to dump the baggage -and make good choices! The good news is: THERE IS NOTHING THAT CANNOT BE CLEARED when we start honouring who we really are. I really mean that— whether it’s on the level of the mental, emotional, physical- related to the environment, your childhood, or past lives or the planet— THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING THAT CANNOT BE CLEARED. And practicing Kundalini yoga- doing the kriyas: the sets of exercises comprising asana (postures); pranayama (breathing); mudra (hand gestures) and mantra (chanting) is a Divinely orchestrated system that WILL cleanse ALL of this as you develop your practice and will help you to unblock ALL your chakras, reconnecting you to that which you REALLY are, and quickly- amazing, huh?!

As we release the crap through the practice (and I’m not sayin’ this is a walk in the park), over time we free ourselves up of all the weight we’ve been carrying and we attune to feel this incredible life-force energy, this pulsating, moving, alive force of love, light and bliss. Glimpses will be present from the outset, interspersed with periods of deep purification. Once the energy breaks through the crown chakra at the top of the head, we are emptied to be filled, we reconnect back to Source, to our true selves, and the secrets of the Universe are unlocked for us on the embodied level, and we learn how to live in BLISS (fyi— at the risk of labouring the point – this bliss I speak of, THIS is what we really are.) Sometimes I literally feel like if you dropped a penny through the top of my head it would come right out through my foot, passing through my entire body unhindered. But in order to feel this clear I’ve got to keep up my practice- if I let it slide, even for a day or two, I start to get blocked up, and it doesn’t feel good. I get blocked up if I let any negative thoughts take hold. I get blocked up if I’m not getting out into nature enough, the denser the environment the quicker the blocks appear. I get blocked up if I don’t pay attention to my need to rest and clear. It’s hard not to get blocked up given the state of the world we’ve created to live in. It takes upkeep! Enlightenment REALLY is alignment! Keeping in alignment requires a daily cleansing practice, all the more needed now as our world is so far removed from its natural, optimal state. We need to cultivate and maintain our practice to keep the energy flowing smoothly, and when the energy flows, we know what to do to help reverse all this damage we have caused – to ourselves, to others, to our beautiful planet – we learn to heal instead of to harm, and we ACT – we choose wisely and we get down to business, we have a lot of work to do to clear this mess up, but it is POSSIBLE.

This is the energy that we call the ‘Kundalini’ – but that is just a name for it. We could also call it life-force energy, other names used are Chi- which Chinese medicine names the energy that flows through the meridian lines in the body; Ki – the Japanese name… It is the same energy that we work with in Tai Chi, or meditation practices such as Vipassana or the Taosit practice of the ‘Microcosmic Orbit’ – again ‘Chi’. In order to ‘become enlightened’ this energy has to not only move within the body, but break through the crown chakra – where it becomes Divine energy (Shen) which then enables the mind-body-spirit complex to receive ALL the knowledge held in the cosmos. Another name for this energy is when it is shared and amplified between lovers during sacred sexual practices is Jing, or aroused Jing; which is the same energy used in Tantra. Yes, this energy is PURE BLISS, it is sensual, it is sexual, it is pleasurable throughout the entire body, and it is as chaste as chaste can be— sex is sacred, the sexual is spiritualyou will know this as soon as you feel it. (Read these Taoist books for him and her to get going with this from a place of heart and soul in your love life, wow, it is so much fun! And look out for videos in the near future where I will be discussing these ideas.)

sacred sexuality

So meridians, energy blocks –  these are familiar to many of us- and sure, we can pay an acupuncturist or energy worker to help us to unblock our energy channels, and this is incredibly helpful, and wonderful – but this alone will not bring the AWARENESS that comes with learning to cultivate the energy yourself. It has to come from INSIDE yourself, as this energy IS you. And it is this AWARENESS that leads to enlightenment. People can help us on the journey – sure, but no one else can do it for us; we HAVE to walk our own path. I think the REAL key to enlightenment, is the knowledge that we don’t need anything external to do thiswe can do it ourselves. Literally all you need is yourself, a mat, and a quiet space. Oh, and some time. That’s why Kundalini yogis get up really early in the morning. Sometimes even at 4, or 5 am— sounds mental, right? But they know how FILLED with energy they are after doing their ‘sadhana’ practice during the most powerful time of day- during the ‘amrit vela’ where the veil between the worlds is thinnest, and their practice, which is complete even before breakfast, fuels them to be their best self for their day, for their life. And nobody’s perfect – I manage about 7am at my best.

I do have to tell you: the awareness of this energy does not come overnight. It is something that first has to be awakened, and once it has been awakened it also has to be cultivated, and in some cases— and in mine for sure— tamed. It is also very importantly an energy that must be completely HONOURED and RESPECTED. As much as practices like Kundalini provide a fast and effective awakening of this energy in the body— IT will decide how long it is going to take to have its way with you, and the route it wants to take to guide you to enlightenment, back to who you really are. The ego absolutely cannot control the progression of this energy, only the soul can. I remember when I started to feel this energy and it felt so good when it came up my spine (which happened once in a blue moon, then once in a while…) and for a good few months I was egging it on. I wanted to feel it ALL THE TIME. No dice. It decides; you are just along for the ride: it’s the boss. There is absolutely no forcing the process of awakening to enlightenment to happen, it is all one big process of SURRENDER, SURRENDER, SURRENDER. But if you can surrender completely and be patient – following the soul and not the ego, eventually your wish will be answered- you will FEEL it all the time, these days I can drop into it in nanoseconds – sitting, standing, walking… and I continue to work towards cultivating this as continuous experience.

 

Awakening your Kundalini energy through the practice of Kundalini yoga is definitely the wise way to do it. The asana (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), mudras (hand gestures) and mantras (chanting) serve to coax the energy out of its slumber and create a smooth passage for the Kundalini to rise in most cases in a calm, controlled, yet of course at the same time, absolutely thrilling process, likely a journey of a year+. This is a really reliable, tried and tested, and yet exhilarating train journey with some of the most epic scenery you are ever going to come across. Did I do it this way? No. My fast-train was a bit more like a rollercoaster and I had a few more thrills than most – my Kundalini was very active long before I even knew what on earth it was, which has been a bit of a mixed blessing, but ultimately, now that I have my toolbox of Kundalini and the other enlightenment technologies I talk about in this series I’m sailing a lot smoother now. Your Kundalini can awaken in different ways, but if it has started some other way (drug experiences, NDEs, through extreme meditation or pranayama etc.) and it is proving challenging, do not worry for one second— simply get going with the Kundalini exercises so you can learn to elevate, integrate and circulate. And get familiar with the Taoist ‘Microcosmic Orbit’ (this book is great). Working with this energy is like learning to ride a bike, or drive a car. You need to learn how to manage this wonderful, powerful, life-giving force— finding a teacher, or the teachings, is very helpful! 

When you tap into the energy field of the universe, the Source, you will never feel the same again. Then you have to start to learn to bring this energy down into your body, and use it to heal you, to teach you, and to reside in you and to emanate from you out through the heart so that you can bring this love out into the world and to others, as well as carrying it for yourself. Finding Kundalini—which has given me the tools to do this— has been like finding the Holy Grail. I didn’t know I was looking for it, but you can consciously take that journey by deciding to practice Kundalini from the beginning. Ah, how exciting!

ky chakras awakened

When your chakras are unblocked and your Kundalini flows freely, you ever so slightly steer it around your body, but it very much knows where it is going- this is how it feels on the level of the physical- and THIS order of circulation of energy is VERY important (The Taoists call this the ‘Microcosmic Orbit’) we are working with life-force energy here, it has to be flowing in the right direction: it comes in through the crown of the head, down the front of the body, as it does so it fills your entire body with light- all your inner organs, filled with healing energy, it crosses over at the perineum (between the legs), goes down the back of the legs to the feet, then changes direction, travelling back up the fronts of the legs, crossing over at the perineum once more, and finally travelling up the spine and out through the crown of the head – PURE BLISS— (or touch the tongue to the roof of the mouth to keep it completely within the realms of the physical body to stay grounded and not to go up into the cosmos – both are fun at the right time) then it will circulate again and again and again, allowing you to bathe in this dancing flow of PURE LOVE energy as you vibe out of your chair/off your yoga mat/off your feet- and you feel the TRUTH on the level of the physical body—that our bodies are designed as instruments of bliss, it’s just that we have forgotten how to use them—we have clogged them up, they have been clogged up with mountains of crap, and in order to feel the free movement of this blissful energy, we’ve simply got to clear all that rubbish out – let it release as it wants to – out the top of your head, out of the soles of your feet, out of any part of your body, and intend for it to return to love, intend for this energy that is leaving to remember what it truly is and for it to return to love.

MicrocosmicOrbitFeature2

We ARE love. When you become enlightened you will FEEL it. It will course through your veins. Oh my God it is like the best sex you have ever had, throbbing through your entire body— over and over and over. It’s pretty damn exciting. Every day when you finish your practice always be sure to send your roots down into the Earth to ground yourself and finish by bringing the energy to, and storing it, in the solar plexus and the heart-centre. This is where it should dwell, when the energy created dwells in the heart-space you can use it to be effective in the world, emanating love out to all other beings: an embodiment of pure love.

THIS is what enlightenment feels like on the physical level. All the systems lead us here, all the train routes take us to the same destination- Vipassana meditation, Taoist practices- the ‘Microcosmic Orbit’, Reiki or Kundalini. They are different words for the same thing – the awareness of the current of universal energy flowing through your body, and learning how best to channel it, integrate it, circulate it, and utilise it– to feel AWESOME!

So get on the train darling, get on the Kundalini Train.

And visit my website and follow my facebook page as I will be posting videos discussing Kundalini where I will go much more in depth in the near future!

Source Sister

(If you live in Scotland and are interested in working one-to-one or coming to a Kundalini workshop with me do let me know: check out the website www.backtosourcehealing.com and get in touch: sourcesister@gmail.com I plan to hold workshops in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Forres in the not too distant future. And if you live further afield and would be interested in attending a workshop with me, please do also let me know, I look forward to be able to teach more widely! Check out my website for upcoming workshops.)

And no matter where you live- we can have a one hour one-to-one Skype session where I can assist you wherever you are on your awakening/enlightenment journey. I can give advice and if you wish provide Kundalini exercises, meditations and mantra suited to wherever you find yourself on the path. If this resonates with you please do check out the website and get in touch: sourcesister@gmail.com

Before we finish up I just want to go into the potential pitfalls of taking the train… When we travel by train we are encouraged not to go off piste. A derailed train is not fun. Train drivers don’t like it if you want to go off on a little detour. You can’t stop a train to climb that pretty hill you’ve just spotted from your seat— that is not proper train etiquette. If you’re on the train you abide by their rules, and you travel from A to B. And this is just the way of it— unless of course you’re well versed in jumping on and off freight trains like in the old school folk and blues songs I so dearly love, that, or you decide to be a risk-taker like James Bond, dramatically duelling on the roofs of train carriages as they hurtle through the landscape, always with that hair-raising moment where the train goes through a tunnel and decapitation is imminent (gasp!) but it’s always narrowly avoided.

As I said earlier— we are working with life-force energy here— we’ve got to play safe- respect it, and honour it. But when it comes down to it the teacher is not the Kundalini teachings, or the Tai Chi teachings, the yoga teachings, or any set of teachings for that matter— the teacher is the energy, the teacher is Truth, which you hold at your very centre, IT IS WHAT YOU ARE. These systems are designed to get us to the stage that we can FEEL the energy, then we EXPERIENCE the Truth for ourselves on the physical level— we KNOW we are pure love because we FEEL it coursing through our veins— then and only then can we be a bit more ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ with teachings- because then we’ve plugged directly into the Source, from now on Source is our teacher, and then we can just pick and choose what we want from any of the ready-established teachings.

So I think that given experience we CAN learn to be a travelling vagabond jumping on and off trains, or become a skilled rooftop stuntman. I totally agree that it is definitely advisable to abide by the rules of the train for the most part. But once you start feeling that energy flowing, once your kundalini is active and dancing about inside you – then please let IT call the shots. This energy is life-force energy, IT knows where it is taking you – don’t be afraid, and if you choose to keep strictly ‘to the rules’ of any given system as opposed to letting this energy lead you when the energy is calling to move in a new way – then you might just be sabotaging your own fast-track to enlightenment. I practice Kundalini yoga but I don’t get up at 4am, I get up at 7am (on a good day), and I don’t wear always wear all white, with a turban round my head, as is the ‘Kundalini’ way, if you have a google. (That being said it IS very energetically powerful to wear all white as it incorporates the entire colour spectrum and so provides ultimate radiance!) but colour is so fun and I wear my favourite multi-coloured leotards all colours of the rainbow! And I don’t recite a devotional text every morning as part of my practice in Gurumuki (again the traditional ‘Kundalini Yoga’ way –  no I sit in silence for an hour meditating in direct contact with the Source, no words needed, or I create my own words. I do sing the chants though, wow is chanting in Gurumuki POWERFUL! But I don’t chant a rigid set of chants every morning in the same order and for the same length… no, I chant what I want when I feel like it (often when doing the dishes, out for a walk, or whenever I feel a bit stressy) and I gather with like-minded souls to sing together and share the bliss. I take what I want, I take the Truth, as filtered through my own internal system of what is true, and I leave what simply does not resonate with me. This is the teaching of the Buddha- do NOT blindly follow what I say, but filter everything I teach you through your own internal system, and if it feels true, great. (fyi – remember I am the Buddha, and you and everyone else are the Buddha, no exceptions). In each of us is a seed of Truth, these systems help us to water and grow it, but once it takes on a life of its own, it knows how to look after itself, and it we if let it guide us, then we can go on to share the secrets in our own words so that others can learn how to water their own seed, until they are independently enlightened, and so on –  and let’s hang out – this is a community thing, no longer a solitary individual in a cave kinda thing!

This ‘truth’ that we are able to access is the same truth that has underpinned all religions, before they become indoctrinated and ended up dogmatic and far removed from their original purity. Religion is also the train, but understandably one that most of us have already worked out how to discern the truth from the rubbish. In this day and age we need to design enlightenment technologies that are completely devoid of any trace of dogma so that they can and will reach everyone. It is everyone’s birth-right to learn how to feel this amazing, not just a select few who play by the book. We need new books, no; we need new open source software. The origin beneath all of this is ENERGY, once you feel it, IT is your only teacher; IT is what you REALLY are. Enjoy enlightenment, it’s time to PLAY! Enjoy your reconnection to Source, it has been waiting for you your whole life…. Lives… And when you GET it, work out how best you can share it with others, every new avenue is eagerly awaited!

Love Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

If this article resonates with you I’d be deeply grateful if you were to share it!

And look out for the second installment of this series of ‘5 Different Pathways to Enlightenment: Part II – Shamanic Journeying – ‘Car’‘ where I will be discussing reaching enlightenment by entering into the shamanic lower and upper worlds  to meet power animals and spirit guides. and to discover all the riches they hold.

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We Need to Talk about Depression : From a Girl with a Past of Nervous Breakdowns & Suicidal Thoughts, a Present of Therapy, and a Future of Staying Sane in an Insane World

Depression: O.E.D :  Psychiatry : A mental condition characterised by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep.’

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Hospital Ward, New jersey: young woman in hospital bed hooked up to a drip.

 ‘Do you think you might be… depressed?’ 

Said the gentle yet butch raspy-voiced Jersey Girl Nurse, who was doing her best to make me smile while plying me with mini cans of ginger ale in the Emergency Room while she pumped my arm for the umpteenth time that day to check my blood pressure. I had been driven to the hospital after a week being too tired to move, bed bound, lifeless. (Depression has crept onto the stage behind the hospital bed, unbeknowest by actors).

‘We’re gonna do this ONE more time,’ she had said, as she just could not believe that as a slender, 25 year old woman, my blood pressure could possibly be higher than that of an aged obese man with heart-problems and a daily McDonald’s habit that he still refused to give up.

‘No. I AM NOT Depressed. Absolutely not…There is something seriously wrong with me, and it is PHYSICAL. I just don’t know what it is yet.’

I was unshakable on this, despite the fact that all the tests they had just run (and charged me thousands of dollars for) had all come back showing NOTHING. Yep, I think it’s fair to say that my extremely raised blood pressure also had something to do with the dollar signs that had been spinning in my head from the second I had been registered as a patient that morning…no, from when I had even got in the car to go there. (Anxiety has run on the stage and is flapping around in a desperate panic.) These had only been exacerbated by the fact that as these tests were being carried out, President Obama was pictured up on the TV screen at the end of my hospital bed making a speech about how his ‘Medicare’ insurance package would not cover ‘pre-existing conditions’. As a British Citizen,medical insurance in the first place was completely alien to me. I could not believe that in this country you would run up a bill of $3,000 simply by stepping foot in an ambulance… quite simply if you had no insurance, or couldn’t afford the bill, you weren’t entitled to life.

I hadn’t considered for one second that I would have to even use the medical insurance I had to take out as a pre-requisite for my being accepted on the Guggenheim internship programme. When I set it up I saw it as absolutely nothing but a begrudged extra-expense that would undoubtedly go on to prove completely unnecessary. I had barely even glanced at it. How wrong I was. Lying in that hospital bed I knew this much though, it sure as hell wouldn’t cover ‘pre-existing conditions,’ which I suspected this was. I was visualising the faces of my already cash strapped parents when they found out, not thinking for a second that they would be concerned about my wellbeing, oh no, but rather, how much this was going to cost them…Oh the GUILT! (Award-winning performance by Anxiety here)

Who the hell was I kidding? I was as depressed as they get. This was textbook.

 

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For most of my life I’ve been far too scared to even begin to discuss my depressive periods with anyone else, even those closest to me. To be honest for the most part I was simply too frightened to even re-visit these experiences in my own mind (even in times of ‘sanity’) as they were so traumatic. Why is that? We do we bury these experiences, even from ourselves? Why are we are we so ashamed of openly discussing our darkest times with one another that we hide them shamefully deep inside?

‘It’s ME’. ‘No one could possibly understand…’… I, I, I, I, I…. me, me, me, me, me…

Are we afraid to be seen as vulnerable? Are we worried that no one else could possibly go to the scary places that our minds have taken us? Do we feel we’ve been dealt a particularly unlucky hand in this life? Worse than anyone else? Do we not talk about it because we fear that other people might think we’re going completely insane?! ARE WE?! 

We really need to start being up-front about it. It’s not something to be secretive about anymore; it’s not something to be ashamed of; it’s something we need to get fully out in the open and be achingly raw and honest about as there are far too many of us suffering from this modern-day epidemic (which, if you stick with me, as I journey from the personal to the cosmic and back, I’m going to argue IS curable). How do we find this ‘cure’? Well, it ain’t in no anti-depressive pill that’s for sure, we need to go to the root, not just to numb out the symptoms. In fact what we need now it isn’t a ‘cure’ in the conventional sense at all. The 21st century demands different cures, not on the level of the body, or mind, but on the level of consciousness. This is the root. And not just on the level of individual consciousness, but on the level of collective consciousness. It demands that we pan the camera as far out from the close-up as we can, to the completely impersonal bird’s eye view. As my favourite Spiritual Ecologist Charles Eisenstein writes in his article ‘Mutiny of the Soul’: ‘Depression, anxiety, and fatigue are an essential part of a process of metamorphosis that is unfolding on the planet today, and highly significant for the light they shed on the transition from an old world to a new.’ So… basically in order to cure this beast we have to face up to depression on the planetary level…cool. But HOLD UP: Depression, when you are held within its suffocating grip, can feel earth-shatteringly personal, in fact when we are suffering from it we cannot escape our own problems for even one second, and the world’s problems are our problems, and they dwarf everything else in existence.  So I hope you’ll agree with me that before we get to the cosmic, first of all we need to zoom right in.

I am ready for my close up...

I’m evidently a lot better at talking about my depression these days. For a long time I was not. I can remember little glimpses of honesty- like the time I was 18, outside a nightclub in the smoking area, huddled in the corner with a party pal about whom I didn’t know much, but I did know that he suffered, like I was beginning to discover I did, from bouts of depression. Brazened by the dutch courage and magic pills, undercut with desperation, I confided in him: ‘when I feel down I can’t imagine ever feeling any other way…but when I feel good I can’t imagine ever feeling any other way.’ I can’t remember his response that night but I do recall that even through the haze of the cigarette smoke, and our inebriated, self-medicated, escapist states, we connected DEEPLY. He knew. And although it was only for a split second I felt heard:

It wasn’t just me.

In many ways I still stand by the simplicity of my 18 year old self’s statement: when you’re down in that hole often you can see no way out, you’re gonna die down there. But if you make it out, when you’re out of it (and I mean you’ve hopped, skipped and jumped into the next field at least) you can’t ever imagine falling back in. But there’s a LOT of stuff going on down in that hole, we need to get a bit archaeological on it. After the dig is complete and we’ve uncovered and safely stored away any important artefacts, I plan to build us a ladder out, then for us to fill in the hole, cover it over with earth and dance gleefully on top (in complete sobriety), yay! But there’s no way round it, we’re going to have to jump right on in there and get a bit muddy. I warn you, it’s pretty fucking dark down there.

It’s a bottomless abyss; a hollowness; an emptiness; a heavy grey cloud that sometimes weighs down so heavily on your head that even as soon as you wake up in the morning all you can muster the energy to think is: ‘what’s the fucking point?’ Being awake seems pointless, let alone speaking, or thinking. Life is like wading through treacle. Having the drive to make yourself something to eat, go to work, or God forbid, to spend time with any of your friends and loved ones seems unthinkable. It makes you feel that somehow despite everyone you know- and who once upon a time might have cared for you and you for them- well, they sure as hell don’t care for you now. No, you are completely and utterly alone in the world. Perhaps it would in fact be a better place if you simply weren’t in it altogether? You are at a complete loss with yourself and you are at a complete loss with the world. Lifting your arm to drink a glass of water feels like an endurance test. Nothing tastes of anything: water tastes vile, food tastes like eating charred coal dust. Your limbs are heavy, your eyelids droop, your speech is slow and maybe even slurred, when you can even be bothered to talk that is– sometimes it is an Herculean effort to even shape your mouth to form the words and when you do your vocabulary is miniscule. You sound more like a malfunctioning robot than a human being. In fact you feel like even more of a malfunctioning robot as the words themselves just don’t seem to make any sense anymore, what’s the fucking point of even bothering to try and say any? Even breathing…

It’s ME. It’s no use. No one else could possibly understand…

But then, we also have to remember that depression is more often that not accompanied by the unlikeliest of bedfellows- Anxiety. Unlike depression, anxiety could not move more quickly if it tried. In fact, it just won’t fucking stop. It is relentless. Anxiety attaches overblown complex meanings to absolutely everything, no matter how small and insignificant. It has the biggest vocabulary there is and every single word in its dictionary is derogatory and negative. It convinces you that you are, in fact, the worst person in the world and are to blame for everything that has ever happened to you, and to those around you. It has MILLIONS of ways of doing this: using examples from the entire back catalogue of your life to date and likely some created entirely out of thin air. Yes, anxiety is depression’s ill-suited partner- it is like one of those relationships where you simply can’t understand how on Earth they managed to get together in the first place because they are just SO different- opposites attract perhaps?! Either way, bets are hedged that this is a relationship that is going to end in disaster.

Unlike depression, where everything, no matter how small, will illicit the same ‘what’s the fucking point’ response, anxiety, on the other hand, is characterised by a fast and irregular heart beat, quick shallow breathing, darting eyes that can’t focus on anything, the babbled speech, and the mile-a-minute thoughts that spiral round and round in your head ALL night long, or perhaps even most of the day (that is when you’re not so despondent and dejected that even the idea of turning on your mobile phone makes you feel ‘what’s the fucking point, it’s not like anyone will want to get in touch with me anyway.’) Ironically although during the day Depression can’t get out of bed…. at night, and maybe even for significant parts of the day, Anxiety makes sure that you get absolutely no sleep whatsoever. You spend hours ruminating over the same things, over and over again- that unforgivable thing you said/did- yesterday, last week, 2 years ago, when you were 7 years old. That or the extent to which everyone must hate you… but no matter how much they hate you no one could hate yourself more than yourself. Anxiety can make it feel like there is no scarier place in the world than inside your own mind. It is an abyss, but one of a different kind to depression. It feels like there is no escape, no escape from the thoughts, no escape from inside your own mind, no escape from yourself. It can feel like you are teetering on the very edge of the precipice of existence and there is nothing tangible left that you can hold onto, all that exists is the whirling torrent of negativity between your ears. It can get to the point where you would give anything just for it to STOP.

‘It’s ME. It’s ME. It’s ME…’ 

But…IS it you? Are we not feeling the same things here? Then, it’s not just you, it’s me as well, hell, it’s LOADS of us. And we don’t have to feel this way. We really don’t.

But we’ve still got a bit more digging to do…

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Nervous Breakdowns

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I have had 3 nervous breakdowns in my life (3 BIG ones that is.) The first was down mostly down to drugs and alcohol and the dark alleys that addiction leads you down- I was 18 years old (around the time of my smoking-section confessional). The second was again, mostly down to drugs and alcohol, but on top of that there was a failed relationship and a sense of directionless after finishing university. The third was an altogether different beast (the opening scene of this article is fairly representative)- yes, alcohol was still involved (tends to be, doesn’t it?) but there was also multiple failed relationships, even an abusive one, work addiction, and a whole host of other addictions to boot on top of the booze… This is just my personal list – for others it might be a series of unfortunate events, losses, illness and death,concerning ourselves or those we care about. Either way, whatever the narrative/story or content of our list is, the result is the same: we crack.

For me, number 3 was a nervous breakdown that didn’t just leave me fragile for a few weeks, or months (like 1 and 2). Nope, 3 took it to the next level. In fact, it took me to the brink of death and in its wake left me saddled with a chronic illness that I am still coming out of over 3 years later. For me it was definitely third time lucky, as this last one (which reached its peak at the grand old age of 25) really made me sit up and take notice. My third nervous breakdown caused me to hit rock bottom (I went as far into the abyss as you can get without dying).  I have to say that it really did crack me wide open. It sent me on a quest where the only way out of this was to find out, once and for all: what really is the fucking point of this life thing?  And I WENT for it: I cut out the booze, fags and drugs forevermore, I became celibate (thankfully not forever more, in the end, but for all the time I needed which turned out to be a couple of years), I moved to the countryside and became a hermit; I took up Kundalini yoga, which enabled me to reach transcendental planes; I meditated until I reached altogether unimaginable states of consciousness; to massively overgeneralise I tried every form of hippy-dippy shenanigans imaginable – I kept the Truth and threw out the fluff… (although some of the fluff is still fun) For more on all of this have a read of some of my other blogs.

 But I GOT THERE

And I’ve brought back some pearly pearly pieces of wisdom to share…

But for now stillllllll not quite done with the digging, with depression there is a lot of digging the same hole, deeper, deeper, deeper…

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Suicidal Thoughts

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Back in the hole… Once I’d admitted defeat after soldiering on for a good month or two after that climactic episode Stateside and had flown home to my parents, in the weeks and months following, I was, on more than one occasion, verging on suicidal.

Suicidal thoughts are those that make us feel like the world would be a much happier place if we were no longer in it. I have to say that I have only had these at the pivotal junctures of the 3 nervous breakdowns, and ,thank God, I never acted on them. In my case when I have reflected on these the thing that strikes me most is that these thoughts used to be in the most chipper voice. Each nervy-B, they came in the same format- a sing-song, devil may care, flippant remark of ‘you know you might as well kill yourself,’ in the exact same tone as you might think to yourself ‘you know, you might as well stay awake for the last part of the film because you’ll be disappointed if you miss the end.’ They would pop up in such a la-dee-dah fashion and at the strangest of times- the last of which I remember so vividly- when I was going to check my make-up in the bathroom mirror, before heading out of my flat shortly before I moved away from the city and back to my childhood home to focus on recovery.

What does this tell me? We have to be VIGILANT. We have to watch our thoughts like a hawk, and try our best to realise we are NOT them, and do our best to observe them, talk them round, and be careful not to act on them in situations like this.

YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS. A really good practice for when you identify a negative thought is to ask yourself: ‘Is that true?‘ You might be met with a whole host of reasons as to why it is… let that fearful voice of defensiveness and exasperation exhaust itself, then ask again: ‘Is that true?

(Is it?… Thought not.)

Then ask yourself THIS question: ‘what would love do here?’ 

DO IT.

The choice is ALWAYS the same: the choice between fear and love. Choose wisely. Fear comes in MANY forms. We have to become experts in identifying it, and taking the other road: love.

It’s as easy as that, but man, it sounds a lot easier than it is, it can be the hardest thing in the world to learn to overcome those dark voices that can exert so much power over us, and sometimes, like at that moment, it’s unbelievably scary.

I really needed some help with this… 

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Therapy

When I talk about therapy I’m not talking about a few sessions with a counsellor who helps you to ascertain that you’re feeling down and that you need to rest and pick yourself back up again. Nope, I’m talking about the kind of therapy that tears you down and breaks you apart into the tiniest little pieces and then slowly and carefully helps you to pick up all the pieces and create the jigsaw of why your life ended up being so messed up, and how, by fully understanding your past, your patterns (and your parents, you REALLY gotta understand your parents) you can move into the future knowing your triggers and getting better at disarming yourself whenever you feel the urge to shoot.

We DO have to work out all the ‘personal’ reasons for our unhappiness, for our depression, and it’s a big task (and it’s not the only one as you will see in the final section), but it is life-saving.

Before I started therapy I felt like I was actually beginning to get quite a bit better. When I started therapy I collapsed again, I was a blubbering, verging on psychotic mess for months.

But you know what. That meant it was working.

I unravelled myself completely, but only in order to re-weave myself back together again, this time in a way that would last the course, in a way that was BEAUTIFUL. We may be digging around in the mud but we are finding the lotus, the rose in the manure, the diamond in the rough, the gold in the complete and utter pile of shit… It is no walk in the park. When you go into therapy, even though your time with your therapist may only be for an hour a week, or an hour a fortnight, you are in therapy ever single minute of every single fucking day and every torturous minute of every sleepless night.

And it’s the best thing ever.

When we are in therapy we learn how to listen to our internal voices, we take the time we need to understand them, and to learn how to meet their needs. To go back to the voice I heard say ‘you might as well kill yourself’… So, witnessed that voice. I knew it was not me. As disconcerting as that moment was, I knew that I was on the right track. And although I didn’t know where the track was going to take me, I knew it was the path I needed to be walking on at that time. When you start to pay attention to your thoughts, to observe them, you realise that that one ‘voice’ you always had in your head is in fact SEVERAL, and they are all completely different characters. (Want to try this and can’t start therapy? Journal. Write, to yourself, write all your thoughts, day by day, watch how they fluctuate, watch all the different voices come out onto the page. Journalling is the best form of self-applied therapy I have come across, that and meditation, which is another form of observation, but this time purely observing. You really start to meditate when you start to hear a whole host of voices…)

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Oh no, I really AM going insane now’… you think

But let me tell you something. During the depths of my illness I was lucky enough to have a few one-one-one sessions with an incredible doctor: one of the smartest, most together, reputable and forward thinking people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He has certainly found the golden nugget in his shit and has spent his career making huge inroads to revolutionising the health service. An hour with him with is like a YEAR of the most intensive therapy you can imagine. And he told me that one of the biggest breakthroughs he ever made was the realisation that there was not only one voice in his head, but several, in fact I think he said to me: ‘one day I counted them all. I discovered there were 9.’

I am also lucky enough to have the most amazing, no bullshit, completely enlightened, kick-ass therapist I could possibly imagine and over the time we have worked together (around 2 years now) I have learned to recognise MANY of my host of internal voices: so there’s my inner child (often very upset), my damaged inner feminine (hopeless), my damaged inner masculine (exhausted from trying too hard), my positive Divine feminine (deep and intuitive), my positive Divine masculine (passionate and energised), my inner Divine child (pure joy), my saboteur (‘you might as well just kill yourself’), my victim ‘IT’S ME!’ (I could go on…) And I have learned to implement new voices: my inner mother, my inner father, and one day, not long from now, when my therapy process is complete, I will be able to draw on my own inner therapist whenever I need her. There is one voice I have learned to listen to more than all the others, and that is the voice of my SOUL. And now that this relationship, the most important of all relationships, has been rebuilt the next step of the therapeutic process is to tentatively and patiently rebuild the ‘Ego’ in its positive aspect’the Self’: the ‘interface’ that we use to interact with the world. (It is not our body or our mind, they are entities unto themselves and completely interconnected, rather it is the holographic form of our identity as (insert your identity here) which allows us to incarnate in these separate bodies and experience this ‘life’ shin-dig, when our inner essence is something different altogether, and yet it is part of the same…

But, for now, to finish up with the voices (although we will be working with them for many years to come)  So we are starting to HEAL when we realise there are MANY voices in our heads, its just that there are positive ones, and negative ones, that have been sadly shaped by our troubled childhoods and bad examples we have had growing up from our families, communities and environments, on both the local and global scale. We are not to FEAR the multiple voices, but to learn to distinguish between them all, listen to the helpful ones, and learn to comfort and placate the fearful ones, as deep down below the seemingly heartless ‘you might as well kill yourself’ is something that is really scared, and hurt, and simply needs to be loved. 

We have to ask the question: ‘What would love do?’ and although it sounds like it wouldn’t work in every circumstance, IT DOESand although we might not think we will be able to come up with answer as to what love would do, well WE WILL if we are patient and listen attentivelybecause beneath all the voices, beneath the identity interface, beneath our finite selves, our infinite state, and True identity is that we ARE love. And so when we ask this question, we are connecting with our true nature and putting it into action, instead of going against it (where all the suffering in the world comes from… and all the depression.) And yeah, ok… I simply CAN’T express in words just how I KNOW we ARE love. It’s a vibration. You have to FEEL it. But I DO know it, and you know it too. It is our natural state of being. We just have to re-learn how to access it again. We’ve gone terribly astray… and it hurts, but the path is still there. Your personal path is still there, our collective path is still there. Clear the path, do the work, meditate – uncover the shit, find the diamond. Get into your heart.

Therapy makes you go DEEP, and our therapeutic process doesn’t need to just take in ‘this’ life… Let me explain by going back to my suicidal thoughts: As I said, after I started witnessing my suicidal thoughts things did not get easier, no, in fact, they got a lot worse. My ‘depression’ had gotten so severe that it wasn’t just in my head anymore, it had overtaken my entire body and could be classified as ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/M.E.’ I could barely get out of bed, and if I pushed myself too far, which is unavoidable if you want to have any semblance of a life, I would often reach the point of sheer physical and psychological pain where, although I wasn’t unconsciously thinking ‘you might as well kill yourself‘, I was consciously thinking, and at points asking: you know what, this is just too hard, please take me now.’

I wasn’t ever taken.

However, ironically, it was also when the pain was at its very worst that I made a vow to myself that NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENED, NO MATTER HOW BAD IT GOT, I WAS NOT GOING TO KILL MYSELF. I remember it clearly, lying in bed (I couldn’t be anywhere else) in so much pain, I think I’d actually just lived through my own funeral in my head I felt so close to death’s door, and I said to myself, to God (life-destroying illnesses open you up to things you would have never considered previously), to whoever:

Ok- If you want me to die from this, then I accept, but I have done too much work on myself to end this myself.’

As crazy as it sounds, I KNEW that all this painful soul searching I had been doing was somehow purifying my soul. It’s hard to explain, but I knew, with complete certainty, that I had seriously ‘evolved’ through my struggles, and, despite not believing in re-incarnation previously, I KNEW that if I ended my life then I would just have to come back again, with the same issues to purify, and added on top of that would be the added karmic factor of my suicide. Nope. I was going to ride this out.

And that was a real turning point. I recognised that I was only one ‘me’ of MANY ‘me’s who had evolved through many many lifetimes, and I was sorting myself out, I was righting wrongs, I was accepting, forgiving, releasing… I wasn’t just ME, I was an infinite being having a finite experience of human life, and I was really starting to GET it! (I have started to get it so much so that I now know quite a lot about previous ‘me’s)… and I wasn’t going through this healing process just for me; but also for all my past ‘me’s and all my future ‘me’s on whatever plane of existence I am to journey to in the future.

Here’s the thing – a breakdown like this is no longer ‘depression’. What’s actually happening here is an initiatory evolutionary process of the soul towards enlightenment : ‘The Dark Night of the Soul.’ During the dark night of the soul the ego is completely shattered and you have to face every single little bit of your shadow. All the painful things that have ever happened to you, all your regrets, your bad decisions, your ignorance, your fear, and every time you have been unkind to others or yourself will come up to the surface and you have to re-live the mental, emotional and often physical emotions connected to these events. As traumatising as this is, they are coming up for one purpose only – to be released. This is a purification process. Your only job is to surrender, surrender, surrender, and find a way to choose love in EVERY circumstance. Meditate through it, go INTO it, do not resist. The pain comes from resistance. Accept it, accept yourself. Forgive them, forgive yourself. Release it/them, release yourself : ‘I love you; I’m sorry; please forgive me; thank you.’ And everything will be forgiven, there is nothing to forgive in the first place – your soul has always been perfect, everything else is just an illusion. Clear away the illusions to make way for the Truth. The ‘dark night of the soul’ should more accurately be called ‘the dark night of the ego’ as it is the process of the ego disintegrating so that the light of the soul, our true identity, can finally shine through. It is a breakdown to breakthrough, destruction to make way for a re-birth. It is an unavoidable part of the process towards remembering who we are. It FUCKING HURTS! But if we commit to it we will come through it, if we commit to it we will be rewarded with the secrets of the universe, if we commit to it we will develop the ability (*the actual PHYSICAL ability*) to feel love flowing through our veins and vibrating in our hearts and every cell of our being, and we will be able to call upon this energetic force *AT WILL* and from then on increasingly bathe in bliss daily – this is what your meditation practice will become, and from there you will learn to embody this love vibration more and more in your life. We will remember who we truly are. Others will feel it, and they will be drawn to you as in your light they will begin to remember their own. Once we have gone through the ‘dark night of the soul’ we are obligated to be the light, to shine as beacons for others going through it, and those who will one day. And let me tell you, this process that used to take place in a cave over 10 years, or in a spiritual community over 30, and only to a select few…it’s now happening faster and faster (my process was about a year) to more and more of us – in fact the entire planet, in all its chaos and destruction now, is entering into a collective ‘dark night of the soul’ – hold on tight! But we will get through it. Just like we will as individuals, and our job now is to demystify it so that we can each go through this process as quickly and painlessly as possible – a clean cut.

But try telling that to someone who is going through it. You simply cannot see the end when you are in it. It is Earth shattering, and you know what, to commit to staying with your life during the dark night takes some real fucking strength. A close friend of mine just couldn’t quite access his own strength when that crunch moment came, he committed suicide a few months ago. I know that people always say this, but honestly, this guy was genuinely one of the kindest, gentlest, most upstanding and wonderful people I have had the pleasure of knowing. (Part of me wishes I had written this article back when I first had the idea to write it… but I was too scared. I was too scared to reveal my darkest times and my out-there understanding of them, even though I knew my honesty would have the potential to help others. No more.But we need to look at this: why is it that it is often the most sensitive, creative, caring, introverted, beautiful souls that commit suicide? Surely they can’t get to the point where their interior voices actually convince them that they are in fact the worst person in the world? But sadly they sometimes do… and if its not that it is that they just can’t live in this world anymore that has brought them so much pain. And you know what? Although it is important not to listen to that voice that tries to sabotage our life, there does come a point where it is important to work out: why on Earth would it say such a thing?

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Staying Sane in an Insane World

And here’s what I came to:

It’s not you. It’s the world.

The world at times can be a fucking hard place to live in. We have forgotten who we are on a mass scale (dude, we’re infinite beings having a human experience in what is ultimately an illusory world.) But we’ve forgotten, and instead of loving each other we criticise and goad each other, we compete, we ostracise others and separate ourselves, not to mention we mistreat other living beings: human, animal, plant, mineral, and we have misused and abused our planet to the point that she is groaning underneath the weight of all the damage we have wrecked upon her, and if we don’t buck up our ideas soon it could actually be too late. We misunderstand death: we see it as something to be afraid of when all it is is a transition from one state of being to another, most often into another human life-time (that is until you become enlightened and get to leave the earthly plane altogether – fyi some of us come back so we can tell you about it.) But this being a human being thing is hard work isn’t it? We KNOW deep down life is supposed to be better than this (it IS I tell you, it is! But we have to do the work – meditate, clear, connect, remember who we ARE and then recognise that WE CREATE OUR REALITY WITH OUR THOUGHTS, so manifest wisely, do it from your soul). We might have become depressed as our life has had one unfortunate event after another – but this is either because we are actually manifesting that through our OWN negative thinking (we really do create our own reality fyi) or, the universe is showing us that we are off path and that we need to change direction. If we feel that we are experiencing things other than that then we are learning karmic lessons which enable us to learn, grown and evolve, but these also help to serve to get us on the right track. So whatever happens: go with the flow; flow don’t fight; and don’t resist: what you resist persists, so of we’re focussing on the negative (the stuff we don’t want) then we’re attracting more and more of that towards us! Ok, so I know I create MY reality and I take responsibility for creating negative situations and my karma but then what about the really unfathomable stuff? What about the sickness and death of those we love? Perhaps even our children? Every single individual is an eternal soul with a karmic balance sheet, just like you. They have had and will have many lives. This is just one of them, and they will evolve towards bliss and infinity. But yeah, in our earthly existence this is fucking hard. Is it any wonder that sometimes there’s a part of us that says: [impersonal]: ‘you know what: this place is crazytown and I want out.’ Or [personal]: ‘This lifetime I’ve chosen this time is just getting too far off track, I want off. Put me in another body. Or send me someplace else. I want off‘: (in my case when our Ego has taken over the running of the show and it forces us to climb to the top of the soulless contemporary art world when all our soul really wants to do is sing, dance, write, live in the country and teach yoga?!)

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Whatever happens, don’t bail. It’s not an easy ride to leap off mid-way. You’ll just come straight back again, in another body, with the same lessons to learn, and then some. And you can’t go anywhere because IN THESE CHALLENGING TIMES THIS WORLD NEEDS US. RIGHT NOW. In fact – the clearer we can see what is wrong with it the MORE the world needs us as we can speak up and help others, whether on a small, large, or PLANETARY scale, to see how we can START DOING IT RIGHT. YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY. Why waste time blaming the politicians, the world leaders, the capitalists, the industrialists, the agriculturalists, homo sapiens… We have to BE THE CHANGE we want to see in the world.

And you know how we can all do this? It’s simple! All you need to do is to follow your bliss! Share your Truth. Share your joy. Do the very thing that makes you truly happiest in the world. This is the key thing! The thing that is making you depressed is that you’re NOT doing it! We have all come here with a unique gift to give, a mission to carry out in service, which brings us GREAT joy and happiness. We need to be doing what we came here to do, and not something else, if we’re doing something else other than what we came here to do we’re going to end up getting lost. Go deep inside and ask yourself what your gift/mission is – what is the dream that would make you happiest in the world? You DO know the answer. Follow your dream, not someone else’s. If they cross-over, great, power to the collective! But let me tell you: it’s crunch time, we have to wake up now. Instead of jumping off, whether for personal or impersonal reasons, what we we have to do is change course, and if we  need to we can change course dramatically. If you are changing course to align with the mission you have come here for you will have the entire universe behind you- mountains will move, miracles will become a daily occurrence, believe it! We have to find out who we really are and what we really came here to do. And when we know, we have a responsibility to LIVE it.

How do you know when you’ve hit upon what it is you’ve REALLY come here to do?: Well, it will without doubt be healing and not harmful, to anyone/anything. It will in some way or another be something that involves helping other people, or the planet, somehow bringing beauty, joy, or happiness into the world, oh, and love will be in there somewhere… And you’ll start to feel ALIVE again, your heart will flutter, your eyes will light up, you’ll want to sing and dance and you’ll feel like your LIFE HAS A PURPOSE, and that you CAN help make a difference in this world as things may have gone horribly wrong, but you will KNOW that they ARE reconcilable, we have to think long-term, and that every little thing that is healing instead of harmful is a positive step in the right direction… Depression? What depression?!

UNLESS WE’RE CONTRIBUTING TO BRINGING LIGHT TO/SAVING THIS BEAUTIFUL PLANET WE LIVE ON, KNOWING WE ARE INFINITE BEINGS IN FINITE BODIES AND LIVING FROM LOVE, WE WILL STILL BE AT RISK OF FALLING BACK INTO DEPRESSION. BE LOVE. IT IS WHAT YOU ARE. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF WHAT YOU ARE.

This is what’s really true about depression: it’s not you. It IS the world. But that’s OK. As we can CHANGE it. We can create a new world, together. And yes, sometimes the darkness in the world can get us down and we shut down because it feels like there is not enough light. But if you feel that, BE the light, and find the place that makes you connect with the light and base yourself there. The world is BEAUTIFUL. There IS light, and so much of it, there is reason for joy, celebration, creativity, happiness, healthiness, but sometimes we have to seek it out, sometimes we have to create it, and we have to join forces with it (we have this light inside of us too) and we have to put everything we have into making this light shine brighter and brighter, so that every living being remembers exactly what they are: LOVE. We are re-balancing a planet that has gotten WAAAAAAAAAYYYY off-kilter, it’s a tall order, but we’re DOING IT!

This is the most exciting time to be alive in the history of humanity! We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!

Let’s make sure that we are so open with and supportive of each other and that we step up to help our beautiful planet through this transition from the old world to the new. Let’s be fellow midwives for the Dark Night of the Soul.  Through our darkness we will find the light. We can create the world anew, we are the ones to do it. We are the seeds. Sort out your personal shit (and take all the time you need to do it, because as you do it, you are helping to save the world and everyone in it, because you ARE it. As you heal yourself, you heal ALL others and the planet as we are all ONE. We are all LOVE.) But please, HEAL YOURSELF FIRST. Only when you have truly healed yourself will you know once and for all you are completely indivisible from everything and anything in existence (you’ll feel that love vibration, TRUST me!)  and then EVERY act you take will be to heal and not harm, not just for the good of one, but for the good of ALL, which is ONE. And if you’ve healed yourself? Great- now you can be of even bigger service to the WORLD, she really needs you. Every single one of us needs to wake up and step up, NOW, be LOVE and complete the real missions we came here to do. Even though there is a lot of suffering in the world right now (and we are the world so we feel it, and the more sensitive we get, the more we feel it). But the UNIVERSE is LOVE (and WE ARE THE UNIVERSE) and there is MORE than enough love in the universe to overcome the suffering of the world. It is infinite. It is eternal.

So… Love. Just choose love. I need it. You need it. She needs it. He needs it, They need it. We need it. And it lasts forever.

Journey well, I love you… Xxxxxxxx

Breakfasts for the Energetically Challenged, Run Down and Down Right Exhausted : Paleo, Grain Free, Sugar Free, Delicious.

 

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Breakfast is of course the most important meal of the day, and I have found that it is EVEN more important when you are completely exhausted- whether that be from just being run down in general, or especially, if like me, you happen to suffer from an energetic illness such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/M.E, Fibromyalgia, or Candida Albicans etc.

Over the course of my healing journey I have learned that in order to best support my body it is essential for me to eat a diet high in protein and fat, and very low in sugar (even in natural occurring sugars such as those in grains and fruit.) I follow a Paleo or Weston A. Price based diet which is based upon eating grass fed meats and produce, wild fish, nuts and seeds, oils and healthy fats, and lots and lots of vegetables and a small amount of fruit every now and again. I avoid all grains and sugars.

In general if I were to eat sugar (meaning not just refined sugar, but also all sugar substitutes such as honey, agave etc, as well as grains or fruit) for breakfast I would have a hyperglycemic meltdown very shortly after and my entire day would be thrown off. For someone who is energetically challenged protein is absolutely essential with all meals, but especially so in the morning.The human body can only tolerate 5g of sugar at any one time (about 4/5 of a teaspoon), and people with energetic issues are widely acknowledged to be even more sensitive to sugar than others. Sugar is the most important thing to avoid in order to eat to sustain and strengthen your body. For me, now that I am further along my healing journey and my energy levels are much more stable, occasionally I do eat fruit, but if I do, I make sure steer well clear of it until after lunch (the only exception to that rule would be a few berries with my breakfast, as these are incredibly low GI -Glycaemic Index– but this would only be on a day where I already felt my energy levels were completely stable and would be with a high protein accompaniment). When my illness was at its most severe I had to avoid all sugars, including all fruit and even all root vegetables, for an entire year. The amount of fruit sugar you can tolerate will depend on the severity of your energetic issues and if you observe your reactions closely over a prolonged period your body will let you know just how much naturally occurring sugar it is able to tolerate before it verges into hyperglycaemic territory (it may be FAR lower than you would have originally thought). As a general rule of thumb, avoiding fruit until after lunchtime is a good move, and when you do eat fruits, it is best to make sure to choose those that are lowest on the Glycaemic Index, such as berries/green apples and prunes, as opposed to those that are very high- e.g. bananas, grapes and most other dried fruits such as dates and raisins.

As a society we continue to mistakenly ‘fuel’ ourselves up in the morning with breakfast cereals (and I don’t just mean the sugary ones- this includes porridge oats, even gluten free, and even boutique cereals made from so-called healthy grains such as buckwheat, quinoa or millet), breads, pastries, fruit juices, and of course caffeine (which along with sugar is perhaps the most important thing to eliminate from your diet if you are suffering from an energetic illness. Even more so than sugar, caffeine is the worst thing for the adrenal glands, which are the powerhouses of energy in the body. Try Tulsi Tea, or Liquorice tea instead- both are naturally energising). Sugar and caffeine may feel like they give us a ‘boost’ in the short term, but in the long term they are only increasing inflammation in the body, and doing A LOT of damage while they’re at it.

So if we can’t eat toast, cereal, or fruit for breakfast-WHAT ON EARTH CAN WE EAT? 

Here’s what!

Eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs and MORE Eggs.

I have found that eating eggs (a brilliant source of protein, healthy saturated fats and high in Omega 3) for breakfast gives me energy like nothing else. Far from the age old adage that you should only eat 2 eggs a week in order to watch your cholesterol, we can in fact eat a dozen eggs a week without it detrimentally affecting our health whatsoever. I eat a dozen eggs most weeks, and since I started my health has improved drastically. Sugar is the enemy, not fat, and not even saturated fat, such as that we find in eggs, butter, cheese, milk and coconut oil and good quality meats. These are the good fats, it’s the vegetable oils and margarines we need to be worried about. Yes, so depending on what you make sometimes it takes slightly longer to make eggs in the morning, but in fact, scrambling a few eggs in a pan with coconut oil and a few chopped spring onions takes seconds- less time than preparing a bowl of breakfast cereal.

I eat my scrambled eggs with spring onions mixed in, alongside things like a whole avocado (excellent source of healthy fat) mashed with lime juice, pink himalayan or celtic sea salt and pepper, some rocket or lettuce on the side. And if I am feeling like I need a really good, grounding breakfast when my energy is low, I’ll add to that a flaxseed roll, which are completely grain free.

Flaxseed Rolls (the ‘breadiest’ grain free bake I’ve ever come across)

8 small rolls (or you could bake in a baking-parchment lined loaf tin and slice as bread)

Ingredients:

250g Flaxseed (whole or ground- you can use either- whole will make a textured granary bread roll, milled or ground will make a smooth roll, akin to wholemeal)

80g Ground Almonds

4 Eggs

50g Coconut Oil (or you can use butter if you can tolerate dairy)

1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp salt (good quality- Pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt)

100ml water

(Optional) – 1 tsp oregano, or fennel seeds or caraway seeds, black pepper.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.

Put the coconut oil in a small oven-proof dish and pop it in the oven for 5 mins or so, just so it is almost liquid.

Add all the other ingredients to a food processor (and the coconut oil once it is closer to a liquid state) and blend until smooth.

Once blended leave it for a few minutes, to allow the mixture to thicken, and then blend again.

Grease a baking tray with coconut oil/or butter

Divide up the mixture into well spaced blobs on the tray. 4 for large rolls, 6 for medium, 8 for small.

(N.B. If you are using whole flaxseed and not ground the mixture will be much runnier, don’t worry about this, they will turn out great, but divide the mixture into 4 or 6, and not 8, as the loose consistency means they will be shallower.)

If you are using ground flaxseed the mixture will hold together better and so you can make 8 easily.

Both are good, often I prefer to use the whole flaxseeds, the end result is densely packed with seeds and has a lot of texture. Also the roughage that they provide are quite possibly the best thing if you are experiencing sluggish digestion.

Wet the back of a spoon and smooth out the dollops into roll shapes. They will not really rise so bear this in mind when you are shaping them.

Bake for up to 45 mins, until golden brown on top and springy.

Cool on a wire rack.

Cut in half, like you would a roll. These are very filling. If I make a batch of 4 often I will cut each roll in half and eat a half at a sitting and freeze all the other 1/2 portions individually. They can be popped in the toaster from frozen but they won’t take as long to toast as frozen bread.

Other good breakfast options with a flaxseed roll would be having Avocado Toast, with a whole mashed avocado with lime juice, salt and pepper on top. (But if your energy is REALLY low, best to throw some eggs on there too). Or (unless you are in recovery from Candida, if which you should avoid them) why not fry up some mushrooms in some butter, ghee or coconut oil, with parsely and garlic and have that on your toasted roll with some grated cheese of your choice. Or if you are really in a rush then a toasted flaxseed roll with almond butter, or another good quality nut or seed butter.

More ways with Eggs….

Make an Omelette:

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Melt some coconut oil or butter in a pan (these good quality saturated fats are much better for you than unsaturated fats such as vegetable or sunflower oils, or oils such as olive that should not be used when cooking at high temperatures.) Throw in onions, or spring onion, mushrooms, bacon, cheese, tomatoes, courgette, peas, chorizo, some herbs and spices, mixed herbs, parsley…smoked paprika, chilli, whatever you have lying around.

Whisk together some eggs. If I am feeling very low on energy 3 eggs is best, 2 if you’re relatively stable.

Griddled Eggs with Courgette and Onion

grated courgette

Serves 1: 2 Eggs, 1 courgette, 1 onion, 1 tsp coconut oil, 1 crushed garlic clove, salt and pepper, green salad and sauekraut to serve.

This is my favourite breakfast. It doesn’t look much, but it tastes amazing. And it takes under 10 minutes.

Finely slice the onion, and grate the courgette and finely chop or mince a clove of garlic. Fry the onion in a tsp of coconut oil until softened, add the courgette and continue to fry for a few minutes until beginning to turn slightly golden. Stir in the garlic. Make 2 indentations in the mixture and crack 2 eggs into the pan, one into each indentation. sprinkle everything with salt and pepper. Fry the eggs on one side for a minute, and turn over, giving them a few seconds on the other so that the yolks are still runny. Plate up and serve with some greens, and sauerkraut (I ALWAYS eat this with sauerkraut, it is a winning combination).

Traditional ‘Full'<insert nationality here> Breakfasts

I know we’ve been conditioned to think that breakfasts made up of eggs, sausages and bacon etc. are incredibly bad for us, but actually, this is SO far from the truth. A breakfast which is sugar free and is made from good quality ingredients and cooked in healthy fats (such as coconut oil or butter, or ghee) is completely healthy, and will give you energy like nothing else.

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So make an epic breakfast when you need to: Eggs (here they are cooked as above, but in onions that have been caramelised in coconut oil and then seasoned with salt and pepper and drizzled with a mixture of hemp oil and za’tar), good quality bacon, good quality sausages (so we’re talking organic, grass fed, grain free) grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, green leaves, avocado, flaxseed rolls. If you can tolerate the nightshade family well you could make it mexican by cracking some eggs into a tomato based sauce flavoured with garlic, smoked paprika and adding in peppers, courgette, chorizo, manchego, coriander- whatever! Get inventive. Have you had Kippers in a while? Or smoked fish? Both excellent protein rich breakfast options. Sometimes we all need an epic breakfast, especially when energy is incredibly low, or if you know you are going to do something which will be a big energy expenditure that day.

And when you want to make a particularly indulgent breakfast that is in-keeping with all the rules, here’s a great recipe for Eggs with Braised Leeks, Za’tar, Spinach and Feta, which is absolutely delicious. One for the weekend maybe. (In general though, I don’t eat spinach with my eggs, or anything else iron rich, such as steak, as spinach inhibits the uptake of iron in the body, so best to eat iron rich foods with other greens such as salad leaves, cabbage or kale.

Et voila! I always accompany my eggs with some green salad (if there is no green stuff with a meal it’s not a complete meal in my opinion!) and also whenever I eat eggs I accompany it with a good quality sauerkraut. Make your own (but you have to be patient as it will need at least a month to ferment) or buy it online here or in good quality health food shops. It has to be raw and this enzyme rich superfood is packed with trillions of good bacteria which will help to rebalance your gut flora (an imbalanced gut flora is widely known to be the underlying cause of most, if not all energetic illnesses). For these reasons I also make sure to eat other foods naturally high in probiotics such as yoghurt and kefir, again make your own (this will only take 24-48 hours) you can buy the grains to start you off here, and I also take a good quality probiotic supplement every day before breakfast. I credit probiotics as playing an absolutely enormous role in my recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Are you lactose intolerant? Well, I was COMPLETELY lactose intolerant for over a decade, and after rebalancing my gut bacteria with sauerkraut and probiotics I can now not only eat goats and sheeps milk products with ease, but can also tolerate cow’s yogurt and cheese, and even milk, cream and butter with the assistance of some digestive enzymes, to me this has been a miracle!

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And when you don’t want to eat eggs

When my energy levels are fairly stable I like to eat:

Yoghurt with berries, nuts and seeds.

yoghurt and chia

I eat a good sized bowl of full-fat yoghurt (low fat yoghurt is a tiny crime against humanity, fat is absolutely integral to good dietary health), I mix in a handful of frozen berries (blueberries and raspberries are my favourites, or maybe blackberries, strawberries, red currants, blackcurrants or cherries). Of course, you can use fresh berries, excellent in the height of Summer, but not always practical, whereas frozen berries are just as fresh and good quality for money when they are not in season.

Add to this 2-3 tbsp chia seeds (this is the essential protein, a perfect ratio of Omega 3, 6 and 9), Give it a good mix. The berries will start to defrost and the chia seeds will swell up in the yoghurt and sprinkle on top a few walnuts broken up into little pieces (or other nut of your choice), some ground flaxseed, and cinnamon.

Instead of chia seeds in this another thing to do would be to make a nut & seed mix where you blend together handfuls of each of your favourite nuts and seeds e.g. almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and I always add desiccated coconut and cinnamon to this, in a food processor until you have a powder, and have this on top of your yoghurt and berries, which is also high in fat and protein.

Green smoothie

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If I need to leave the house very early in the morning I’ll make a smoothie to take with me. I will only have a smoothie for breakfast if my energy levels are already stable.

blend: 1 Avocado, a small handful of frozen berries (or if you can tolerate it, 1/2 or a whole green apple- which will make this smoothie really green, otherwise it will be a bit sludgy, tasty sludge though). Add to this a handful of spinach, a couple of tbsps of chia seeds (for protein), top up with a mix of unsweetened almond milk and filtered water and finally add and some superfood powders of your choice: I add a scoop of Dr Mercola’s Organic Greens Powder which is packed full of alkalising grasses and algaes, a tbsp of Maca powder, a nutrient dense adaptogenic Peruvian herb which is known for its highly energising properties, and maybe even a heaped tsp of Raw Cacao powder which is also very energising and of course, gives the smoothie a taste of chocolate.  Sometimes I also add a couple of drops of Stevia , the best sugar substitute, which is completely natural, when in a form like the liquid drops, as opposed to highly processed granulated varieties like Truvia, etc. and although is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar it does not register on the GI index.

I also make Chia Seed Bowls…

carrot chia

 

Ingredients for one portion:

3 heaped tbsp Chia Seeds

250 ml of almond milk (unsweetened) – or cow’s milk if you can tolerate it, always go for full fat, and raw unpasturised if you can.

1 carrot (grated) – or a couple of sticks of celery (chopped) if you are in recovery from Candida, or in general need to be lower GI, I do!

2-3 prunes, chopped (these are surprisingly low GI and as well as tasting great are excellent for your digestion).

Sprinkle of some of or all of: Pumpkin seeds/Ground Almonds/Ground Flaxseed/Walnuts broken up into a few pieces/toasted sunflower seeds/cinnamon and nutmeg.

1 heaped tbsp tahini drizzled over the top.

Method:

If eating for breakfast the next day: the night before put the 3 tbsp Chia Seeds into an empty jam jar, add the almond milk, if you think it needs a bit more liquid add a little more milk or water. Put on the lid and give it a good shake. Put in the fridge for the seeds to swell overnight.

N.B. Even if you soak the Chia Seeds for 30 mins they will still swell, so you can do this and eat it quicker, but the longer they have to soak, the better.

Once your Chia Seeds are like tasty frogspawn, mix and empty into a bowl.

If you want to eat it hot (hot Chia porridge is nice on a cold day) then warm in a pan or pop in the microwave.

Grate your carrot or chop your celery and pop it on top.

Then put all your yummy additions on the top: pumpkin seeds/prunes/broken walnuts/ground almonds/sunflower seeds/flaxseed/a good dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg, and finally drizzle with a big dollop of tahini, yum, enjoy!

Other options with Chia Seed Porridge:

Eat with some berries and dessicated coconut on top. If you can handle the sugar grate a green apple on top and sprinkle with seeds, cinnamon and tahini. Stir in a heaped tsp of raw cacao powder (like co co pops, but for adults, and insanely healthy).

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And that’s how to give your tired body the best possible start to the day, and as the days go on, the best possible chance at healing. Food is medicine.

Xxxxx

 

 

We Need to Talk About Bodies: From a Girl with a Past of Eating Disorders & Body Dysmorphia, a Present of Self-Acceptance, and a Future of Self-Love & Body Confidence

body dysmorphia

A good few years ago now an experimental-theatre oriented pal of mine took me to see a performance that changed my relationship with my body forever.

In Nic Green’s ‘Trilogy’ the first section opens with a group of around fifty women dancing with complete wild abandon to the euphoric Pixies’ track ‘Into the White’. They were completely naked. These women were voluntary participants in the project and ranged from their early twenties to well into their sixties. They varied from young to old, tall to small and svelte to voluptuous. As I watched them dance their deep knowing, with sparkling eyes and ALIVE smiles in their raw, fully embodied and empowered celebration of the female form -Goddess/Priestess/Wild Woman/Mother/Daughter/Grandmother- in all its wonderful myriad manifestation -each one of them as beautiful as the next- my entire body vibrated on a cellular level with the most intense yearning to be up there with them. I wept tears of joy for them that they were able to emanate and display such a powerful and radical acceptance of their own diverse bodies, and I cried tears of grief for myself as I knew that my relationship with my own body was anything but that.

At the end the cast invite the women in the audience to join them in stripping off too, in brave and joyous communal celebration of the female form. I couldn’t do it. I sat there, arms crossed across my stomach (the size of which I was not altogether happy with at the time, I had been going through one of my ‘heavy drinking’ phases). I felt the pull of liberation and the offered hand of solidarity, but my insecurities kept me firmly rooted to that seat. In the end I think only one woman stood up (it appears I wasn’t the only one who’d been overpowered by her insecurities that night.) My friend -a gloriously unashamed extroverted-yet-sensitive-male-feminist- was deeply saddened by the audience’s reluctance to participate, being in possession of a penis he wasn’t invited of course, but he would have been straight up there if the invitation had been open to both sexes. But I couldn’t do it for me, and I couldn’t do it for him, or for the performers. Despite my inability to bare all, in that moment I felt my deeply ingrained repression in relation to my body palpably and consciously for the first time. And I knew it was a limitation that had to go. I wasn’t quite ready to break through it, but I also felt a deep recognition that this was the catalyst that was going to crack my life-long troubled relationship with my body wide open, and it was going to be messy, there was a LOT of stuff to work through. And I’m going to share the journey with you. (As with my other blogs, I feel I should warn you that before we get to the light we have to traverse through some pretty dark shit, so brace yourself, it’s about to get a teensy bit uncomfortable -there’s quite a lot of former self-hatred to wade through- but I get there, I get comfortable, and hopefully you will too by the end.)

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I feel fat today

You will rarely come across these words in the journals I keep today (I scribble in my journal like a fiend, it is an unwavering friend as I traverse my recovery from a Chronic Illness—I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome—and beyond that it is simply the best way I have found to really get to know myself on the deepest level possible, at the level of the soul. Well, that is, it’s the best method I’ve come across apart from meditation). I call my journals these days ‘The Compassionate Witness,’ and in them I strive to be exactly that. I sincerely hope to get them published one day. There’s a LOT of full on, unabashed CRAZY in there, but it must be said, there is also a hefty dose of liquid gold WISDOM, which just increases with each new volume.

The same cannot be said however for the diaries of my teens and early (and even mid) twenties, which were more accurately firstly vehicles for me to express the ‘it’s so UNFAIRS!’ of life; the dramas pertaining to the boys I fancied; the ups and downs of trying to be the perfect student at school, and extra-curricularly; and the pain of puberty. Overall my teenage diaries were a merciless cutting down of everything I had done wrong, every way in which I had been wronged, and every which way I was just simply not good enough, not lovable enough, not worthy enough… in other words these were the tales of my complete and utter self-loathing…Can you tell there was not a lot of unconditional love being banded about in my childhood? You might call these ‘The Judgemental Witness,’ or the ‘Self-Flagellating Witness‘ maybe… I threw these out years ago, a part of me wishes I still had them, but a wiser part of me is relieved that they are gone as I shudder to think how emotionally fraught it would be for me to re-visit just how much of an unforgiving self-critic I was.

Years later, when I started keeping a diary again in my mid-twenties, it morphed into a nightly run-down of ALL THE THINGS I DID and ALL THE PEOPLE I saw each day and ALL THE WORK, and ALL THE EVENTS, and ALL THE PARTIES, and ALL OF THE BOYS, and how EXHAUSTING and EXHILARATING it was (in hindsight, mostly exhausting, and when I read them back, practically devoid of emotion too.) Maybe these could be called ‘The Disconnected Witness‘? Or ‘The Superficial Witness’ perhaps? In both eras, countless were the ‘I feel fat today’s’ that littered the pages (more often that not in the days leading up to my period, of course). These words appeared so often that they could have almost been etched in stone (as opposed to my trusty liquid-gel liner pen). And on a much more damaging level, they were definitely forever etched in my psyche as a result.

Looking back through the diaries I’ve held onto, other words and phrases I’ve noted that pop up repeatedly on these ‘I feel fat‘ days are: ‘unattractive, ugly… like a beached whale… my skin has broken out SO badly…’ and I have to admit to more than once finding the ever-so-slightly-overdramatic phrase ‘I feel like the fattest, ugliest, most unattractive person in the WORLD today’… Yes, I’m mortified to say that’s a direct quote, Oh dear. And I should say that these cruel self-directed insults that I quote are not taken from the diaries of a teenage girl (I dread to think of the cut-throat self-inflicted insults that peppered those pages), no, these are taken from the diaries of a twenty-five year old woman. And a woman at that who has consistently been somewhere between a dress size 8 and 10 since the age of 13, and who at the time of writing, looked something like this:

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Body Dysmorphia

The medical definition of Body Dysmorphia is as follows:

A pathological preoccupation with an imagined or slight physical defect of one’s body to the point of causing significant distress or behavioural impairment in several areas (such as work and personal relationships). People suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder perceive themselves as ugly, fixating on a slight abnormality or an imagined flaw’ -Charles Q.Choi Scientific American , Feb 2008.

Throughout my life I have suffered with a pretty severe case of this. But it seems so STUPID, right?! I mean, come on! Ok, so the above photo is a pretty good one, I must admit (my ego picked it, of course), and my rational brain knows that even on my ‘I feel fat‘ days, I am, by many people’s definition of the term, an ‘attractive’ woman. But, despite this, there is a deep, dark, cruel, callous, harsh and inhumane part of my psyche that is fiendishly good at convincing me otherwise. As neurotic and irrational as it sounds my truth for many, MANY years was that I could feel attractive and comfortable in my body one day, and just a day later feel like the ‘most unattractive person in the world.’ Several times over the years I worked myself up to almost panic attack stage about how hideous I looked and it would only be upon looking in the mirror that I would realise it was all in my imagination and that the reality was completely different, and I would calm down. (Isn’t that funny? I had to look in the mirror to feel ok. You’d think it would be the other way around, right?) Of course, sometimes even looking in the mirror wouldn’t convince me otherwise. And of course, sometimes it was what I saw in the mirror, or worse, an objectively taken unflattering photograph that would send me over the edge: a roll of fat, a double chin, a spot too many, or my own personal worst offender in the body dysmorphia stakes -my ‘slight physical defect’ that can cause ‘significant distress’- my arguably more than ample lower half: Beyonce’s bottom or strong Amazonian Goddess thighs on a good day/Elephant on bad day. I also could look at photos of myself one day and think they were really flattering, and then look at them a few days/weeks later, when I was having a ‘bad’ day, and think they were absolutely horrendous and should never be allowed to see the light of day ever again.

Oh dear, oh dear.

My weight would fluctuate in the realms of half a stone or so. If I could ‘pinch more than an inch’ of belly fat I would convince myself that I had put on an absolutely unacceptable amount of weight and I would hurry to the chemist, palms sweating and heart-racing and weigh myself on their machine (it was too dangerous to have scales in the house, I’d be on them multiple times a day). Once I’d kicked off my shoes, dumped my bag and every layer of clothing it was acceptable to remove beside the machine,  I’d try to ignore the other shoppers in the store and wince with embarrassment if the automated female voice unexpectedly BOOMED out, saying over and over again ‘measuring your BODY FAT! MEASURING YOUR BODY FAT!‘ And every time, when that little receipt popped out the bottom telling me my weight and height, without fail, I would be more or less the same weight, somewhere within the region of 8 1/2 to 9 stone, maybe a lb over 9 stone at most. And I had convinced myself that I had gained at least a stone. When it was in reality, probably something more like 3lbs.

Those 3lbs often meant the difference between sanity and insanity for me.

Eating Disorder

I developed an eating disorder around the age of 13, but the dye was cast much earlier than that. When I was 8 years old I got fat, it was more than puppy fat, but I don’t think it quite reached ‘obesity,’ honestly, I have few memories from this time of my life, I’ve blocked a lot of it out. When I went hunting for photographs of this time it also appeared that I had destroyed most of the evidence (surprise, surprise) this is the only thing any where near proof I could find:

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Why do children and adolescents develop issues with food and their bodies? For me personally, I have realised since I went into therapy that the reason I gained so much weight at such a young age because my parents got a divorce when I was 7 years old and I ate to numb the pain. What does a poor, frightened, abandoned, wounded inner child do? A soul who is lacking in love? Anything and everything they can to protect themselves, to make the pain go away, to cushion themselves from the harsh nature of the big bad world (or even to protect themselves from people -and even people who are supposed to love you- when you find out for the first time that they can hurt one another, and you).

So I ate.

Then when I went to high-school I lost all the weight…and then some. I got skinny, I got really skinny, and I liked being skinny, so I started starving myself from time to time, or I’d make myself sick when I felt that I had eaten too much, and then as punishment I’d starve myself again for a while, or I’d take laxatives… But then I’d yo-yo back the other way. I’d get down about something and I’d seek solace in food, I’d comfort eat to make myself feel better and I’d put on a few pounds, a few more…

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but then the scales would tip and I’d be horrified at my gluttony, and once again I’d starve myself/make myself sick/take laxatives. This went on for a few years until I found other ways to ‘maintain’ my weight- e.g. liquid dinners (drinking alcohol and not eating), smoking to curb my appetite, and then snorting coke and taking pills and MDMA; junkie chic.

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And what was the reason for this? Well, if comfort eating is symptomatic of a wounded soul, then self-denial, starvation and discipline is symptomatic of a grandiose ego, the logic of the ego being:

‘If I make myself as thin/successful/talented/PERFECT as possible then maybe they will love me? Maybe then they will accept me? ‘

This dangerous and far too common pattern tends to begin with parental relationships and then is extended to romantic relationships, friendships and relationships with figures of authority. Can you ever succeed in your search for unconditional love and acceptance from people who simply, through no fault of their own, do not know how to give it? –No- Hurt people hurt people.  If they, sadly, haven’t experienced unconditional love for themselves they simply do not know how to give it to others.

Oh dear. Poor dears.

This is a painful pattern that repeats and repeats generation after generation causing so much hurt and trauma for all involved, and we all have our different ways of numbing the pain. (For me, and for so many others, the booze, drugs and fags- once again were just like the eating- another way to escape from, or failing that, at least to dull the pain).

If I can some it up I would say that my underlying unconscious modus operandi was:

I hate myself so…’

I hate myself so…I’ll eat to block out the pain of feeling unlovable, unworthy and unaccepted’

I hate myself so… I’ll punish myself by starving myself into submission, or making myself sick if I’ve eaten too much’

I hate myself so… I’ll drown my sorrows in booze, swallow them down in pills, puff, puff puff my cares away.’

And it didn’t end there. All the booze and drugs and partying led to a couple of sizable nervous breakdowns. Around this time a very wise woman told me ‘you realise that what you put in your body affects your mind?’ Right then. I became a tee-total, yoga-doing, meditating, running, cycling, spinning, super-health-conscious, well-being nut with a qualification in Nutrition. I was at a loss as to what to do with my mind, it had proved itself to be an enemy, so I set about trying to spend as little time in it as possible and instead I threw myself into ‘taking care’ of my body. And in the months following seeing that life-changing performance with the wonderful naked dancing wild women I had grown confident in my body-I became brave enough to shower naked in the communal showers at the gym, and I was at home in myself enough to dance naked on top of a hill with a group of women on a sunny Spring day, as well as do my sun-salutations in my bedroom each morning completely starkers, that is, when the sun made an appearance (and these are all wonderful things of course).

So by my mid-twenties I had COMPLETELY turned it around.

I honestly thought I had totally cured my eating disorder. I had come on leaps and bounds, and yeah, so maybe I still had the ‘I feel fat’ thoughts (once in a blue moon, during a particularly bad bout of PMT), but I no longer starved myself or made myself sick. I no longer smoked instead of eating, or used my ecstasy habit as a cunning diet regime.

But… underneath all this -what was the unconscious modus operandi?

One day I remember I was in my kitchen, when I lived in the city, ok, so I think I was complaining to my flatmate that I had nothing that I wanted to wear out that night (and ok, so maybe the words ‘beached whale,’ or something of the sort, were dropped in there, as I said, etched in the psyche forever, oh dear) and she non-chalantly opened the fridge while sighing ‘you know, I don’t think I have ever met anyone with a more extreme case of body dysmorphia than you.’

I was completely taken aback.

Hey! I was in CONTROL. I was no longer someone with an eating disorder or body dysmorphia, I’d sorted that out years ago. I was just someone who was VERY interested in nutrition and exercise….

As far as I was concerned I was finished with all the self-destruction and self-abuse and I was instead fully committed to taking excellent care of myself and making myself as healthy as possible. I was, dare I say it, obsessed. (N.B. ‘making myself‘ as healthy as possible. It was an act of forcing). My self-acceptance only pertained to times when I looked and felt great, and thin. It didn’t include the episodes where I’d yo-yo ever so slightly the other way, become dependent on the booze, or comfort food again (to numb out the pain, usually work stresses or boy stresses), and gain a few pounds. Oh no, when that happened I was ripe fodder for a public dressing down, by myself. Or if I got sick and therefore needed to rest and feed myself comforting foods to recover then I would rant and rail against myself for getting sick in the first place, how dare I? how disgusting! I had absolutely no compassion for myself whatsoever. Oh dear, oh dear, oh DEAR! And it was at these times that I needed love more than any other.

Yep. Although I was ‘taking care of myself,’ without a doubt the unconscious modus operandi was still ‘I hate myself so…’

And although the self-reprimanding judgements about my weight and physical appearance in my journals were still there from time to time (in much subtler language) I honestly thought I had it sussed as they were quickly followed by motivational dietary plans I was going to execute with military precision, listing exactly what I was going to eat (or rather not eat) to rectify it, and the strict exercise regime I was going to impose upon myself to do so. My nightly diary entries would usually begin with whether or not I had made it out for a run that morning. If I had, I liked myself. If I hadn’t, I loathed myself. At my very worst levels of ‘control freakiness’ my entries included in the margin a scribbled little list of everything I’d eaten that day and equations (the only time I ever used my long-addition from high-school maths) totting up the number of calories I’d eaten that day, either with a smug gold star for praise-worthy, minimal calorie healthiness e.g (and I quote):

Celery, cucumber, apple, pear & spirulina juice; 2 slices buckwheat toast w/coconut oil; plum, apple; humous, carrot, celery & 2 ricecakes; quinoa w/broccoli, peas, spring onions, parsley, mint & afalfa sprouts; 5 brazil nuts, 2 litres water; nettle, green and dandelion tea.’

Oh dear. Or if the day’s eating was less than the purest-of-the-pure I would slam down an iron-fist that this utter over-indulgence and hedonistic gluttony would NEVER happen again. Oh DEAR! So maybe I wasn’t starving myself or vomiting up my dinner, maybe I was ‘taking care of myself’ and ‘eating healthily’ and ‘exercising’ and I was no longer abusing my body with drugs, alcohol and cigarettes any more. But did that mean I was no longer abusing my body? –No– But I wasn’t doing all this to be ‘thin,’ I was doing all this to be ‘healthy’, so I was on the right track, right?

WRONG.

I hate myself so… I’ll eat like a bird and exercise til I’m sore day in day out until I’m perfect… then I’ll love myself, then I’ll accept myself. Then they’ll love me, then they’ll accept me’

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, OH DEAR!

I had absolutely no idea what unconditional love was.

I had to learn.

 

Self-Acceptance

As it turned out I had to develop a chronic illness to learn self-acceptance.

I forced myself to be ‘perfect’ for so many years that it almost killed me.

Since coming down with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome my body will literally not allow me to put it through one iota of the self-abuse I used to inflict upon myself and I have had to learn to embrace it in all its glorious imperfection. I can’t drink alcohol, or smoke cigarettes to escape from it (not that I would want to), but equally I can’t kick it into shape by forcing myself out for those 7 a.m. runs or spin classes (sometimes I can’t so much as walk to the end of the road… for a week). Nope, it simply will not play ball. And if I was to try and get through the day on my former ‘purest-of-the-pure’ daily eating habits of vegetable crudites, fruit and rice cakes of my ‘healthy eating’ years, well I would collapse by 10 a.m.  Since I got sick my body has called the shots, and I listen, no more imposing from without, no more punishment. And as for my weight: when I first came down with my illness I gained quite a lot of weight, and as it progressed I got thin, really thin, perhaps the thinnest I’d been since the full-blown eating disorder days (as you can see, my ego really liked this), but I often had trouble even standing up for more than 5 minutes at a time…. These days I’m somewhere in the middle, but, I yo-yo back and forth, and I have had to learn to become a happy yo-yo.

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These days I accept myself. I accept myself on the days I am too tired to get out of bed. I accept myself when I need to eat much more than usual to comfort my poor sensitive soul after it has been knocked about in the world for a few days (but I make sure to address the underlying issues so it doesn’t go too far). I do my best accept my body in every way– when it is in pain, when it is in bliss, when it feels fat, when it feels thin, when it feels sad, and when it feels happy, when it feels angry and when it feels calm. Because human bodies get fat and thin, they get happy and sad, they get healthy and ill, and without exception they get old, they die. That is just what they do! And we need to accept the whole she-bang, not just the good days.

I may have to have had my hand forced to get here, but my illness has led me to make the key shift to:

‘I love myself so…’

I love myself so… I’m going to eat a healthy, nourishing diet that best supports my body.’

I love myself so… I am going to do yoga and meditate and dance and go out for walks and move my body when I can because it makes me feel good.

BUT it also means:

I love myself so… I’m going to look after myself like I would a sick child today, because that’s what I need and so I am going to be so gentle, patient, kind and loving to myself.’

I love myself so… it’s totally ok that I’ve gained a few pounds because I’ve had a big energy crash and I need to eat lots in order to build myself back up so I can get out of bed.’

I love myself so… it’s absolutely fine that all I have the energy for today is to lie in bed and do nothing else but eat and go to the bathroom.’

I am doing my best to love and accept myself no matter what.

Self-love

But loving ourselves is hard right? Haven’t we spent SO many years thinking that to love ourselves is selfish? Goddamn that ‘don’t know how to give unconditional love because we’ve never received it ourselves’ pattern!

But it’s the ONLY way. We have to shift from ‘I hate myself so… to ‘I love myself so…’ We can be the most naturally thin person alive and as long as we come from a place of ‘I love myself so…’ it’s ok. The exact same goes for being extra-voluptuous. It’s all ok. As when we love ourselves we will do what is right for ourselves, we will do what is right for our souls. As long as the underlying belief is ‘I hate myself so…’ NOTHING we do will EVER be enough, NOTHING we do will allow us to feel loved or accepted. But the Truth is that we are ALL accepted. We are all lovable. EXACTLY as we are: on our good days/on our bad days/on our happy days/on our sad days.

More than that. We are actually all PERFECT. It’s just that it’s not our bodies that are… So I wasn’t totally off the ball thinking that I needed to be ‘perfect’ to be loved and accepted (I’m going to explain why in the next section). When our underlying belief is ‘I love myself so…’ EVERYTHING we do is enough, and EVERYTHING we do (or don’t do) doesn’t change the fact that we are always completely loved and accepted, no matter what.

And THIS is unconditional love. Learn it. Give it to yourself. Tell your friends. Above all, if you have kids, give, give, give it to them.

(P.S. Only when you fully love yourself unconditionally first can you then go on to love others, otherwise we’re just perpetuating the ‘hurt people hurt people’ pattern. Oh dear.)

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So how did I learn to love my body? This thing I’d hated and punished with a vengeance for so many years. How did I learn to love it even in it’s sickness, in all its glorious imperfection?

Well, I’ll tell you- I had to realise that I AM NOT IT.

*Warning, it’s about to get a bit ‘out-there’ but stick with me, yeah?*

Have you ever had a OBE? (No, I don’t mean a ceremony where the Queen bops you on the shoulders a couple of times with a blunt sword and thanks you for your outstanding contribution to society), I mean an ‘Out of Body Experience’? Perhaps not. Most people in fact tend to experience this for the first time right before death… walking towards that white light, so they don’t ever get the chance to tell people about it. Some people experience it through hard-core meditation, others through transcendental drug experiences and some during a NDE (Near Death Experience). Well, I am able to experience this regularly, perhaps a little bit too regularly, I do the meditation (and I did the drugs) and my close shave with death brought about by my illness has definitely speeded up the process. This is not easy to explain but when you become able to leave your body you realise:

OMFG! I am not this body! I can leave it and still be ‘me’! I am actually something else altogether!

And when you are able to leave your body and feel what you *really* are, it is just pure bliss, man. Yeah, I know, it sounds corny, but what can I say, it’s simply the Truth! What we really are is Spirit, a non-dual, non-separate, infinite, eternal, unchanging, formless, vibrating mass of energy, pure essence, pure consciousness, pure being, and there is absolutely no separation between us and anyone or anything. We are all ONE. To experience it physically feels like being enveloped in the warmest, most loving, most orgasmic hug you could ever imagine experiencing, and then some. And we can experience this all the time if we want to, even whilst still technically IN our bodies- How? get meditating! (I’d recommend that over the risky drug trips and the almost dying). Yep, we ARE just a part of the ‘Oneness.’ We never get sick, we never die. Yep, as crazy as it sounds, we ARE love, we’re just pure love. We are PERFECT.

Eating disorders, and escaping through self-destruction of any kind is, when we get to the root of it, a blatant denial of the physical body and a refusal to accept this incarnation. It is an awareness of ‘I know I am not this‘ -not this unwieldy, physical, heavy, fleshy piece of material. it is this deep knowing of: ‘I AM PERFECT‘, but we get it all skewed and we think that it applies to our bodies. And we struggle to ‘get there,’ when we ARE ‘there’ all along, it’s just not our bodies that are the perfect bit, it’s our eternal souls. The body is just a vehicle we are occupying for a lifetime, which is peanuts on the grand scale. And bodies are by their very definition imperfect and flawed and temporary. Oh, and we chose this incarnation (yep, parents and everything.)

But really, we are all love. *yeah, baffled me too at first, but when you experience it, you’ll never question it again*

So if I am love, and you’re love, and we’re all one, then by loving myself I’m not just loving me but I’m loving you and I’m loving everything.

And by that logic- if I continue to hate myself then I’m effectively hating you, and everything and everyone? (Come on now, don’t be THAT guy.)

Doesn’t that make it a bit easier to love yourself? Knowing that by loving yourself you are loving everything and everyone? And by continuing to hate yourself you are effectively hating everything and everyone?

It’s a no brainer, right?

So to boil it all down: We ARE Spirit incarnate. We ARE soul enfleshed. We ARE Spirit, and we HAVE Minds and we are IN Bodies. If we use the Mind and Body in service to the (eternal, indestructible, limitless) Soul then we will invariably operate from the modus operandi ‘I love myself so…’, BUT, if we choose to continue to operate from a place where the Mind and Body are in service to the (limiting, constructed, destructive) Ego, well then, that will ALWAYS result in ‘I hate myself so…’ Your choice.

*BUT, big butt- So yeah, yeah, maybe I’m Spirit incarnate, but I am still IN this body!*

Yep.

So after experiencing the OBE state we’ve got to get back into our bodies and be like, ‘Hey! I’m in this body! I may well BE an eternal, infinite mass of vibrating love and light energy but I’m IN this limited form, this body that is so incredibly dense, and it ages, and it gets sick, and dies, this vehicle.’

But you know what: HOW FUCKING AMAZING IS IT, BEING IN THIS BODY?! In bodies we can do all these things that we can’t do as a free-form, non-differentiated mass of energy -we can TOUCH things, we can TOUCH other bodies, we can have SEX (is there anything better?), we can eat FOOD (oh my God eating tasty food is such a wonderful experience), we can SING, we can DANCE, we can SEE all the beautiful things in the world- the mountains, the trees, the rivers (isn’t it wonderful?!)- and not to mention ALL the DIFFERENT PEOPLE, all of the billions of bodies in so many varying shapes and sizes, each one of them totally UNIQUE. Wow! This ‘being in a body’ thing is AWESOME as it allows us to experience the ‘oneness’ (of ourself essentially) in this gigantic plethora of separate and contrasting things, and bodies. And it is really much more exciting, interesting and colourful to be in a human body (with all its ups and downs) than it is to be a part of the vibrating mass of ‘oneness’ (as properly blissful as that is, and don’t get me wrong, it’ll be ACE to get back to it).

  Body Confidence

But for now I’m going to love this body with every ounce of my being as it allows me to experience this amazing thing: being a human being on planet Earth.

It is my ambition to learn to be fully confident in my body knowing that I am not it, but knowing that I am lucky enough to be residing in it for however long this human lifetime is going to take, and you know what? I’m devoted to giving myself the best experience I possibly can. I’ve been given a second chance, and I am going to love, love, love it. And I know that this body is going to take me to so many amazing places and sing, dance, eat, touch, have sex, maybe even give birth to another body/soul/part of the vibing mass of infinite oneness (Wow, now that will be an interesting experience in terms of accepting my body! And if I do they are getting unconditional love up to their eyeballs.)

I know that 20 years of self-inflicted abuse cannot be undone in mere months, but it’s ok, I commit to however long this is going to take, and all the ups and downs, the happies and sads, and the fats and thins of it.

I accept this incarnation. I love myself. I love my body. Do you? 

Say it with me:

I love myself so…’

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Right, who’s going to join me dancing naked in celebration of the wondrous human form?!

How to be Sick: A Personal, Practical and Profound Guide on Becoming the Happiest Sick Person you Know AND How to Heal

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One is not born, but rather becomes, a sick person. One is most CERTAINLY not born a happy sick person, but one can BECOME a happy sick person; and a happy sick person is much more likely to go on to become a FULLY HEALED person.

Against all the odds over the past 2 years of living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I’ve learned to become a happy sick person, and I’ve finally reached the stage on my healing journey where I am ready to share the toolbox of tips and tricks I’ve collected, appropriated and created with others: it is a veritable treasure trove, and I’m still adding to it all the time. If my illness were a marathon I am overjoyed to say that I can finally see the ‘fully healed’ finish line in the distance. It’s hazy, it’s still not quite upon me, but I promise you, it is NOT a mirage. I can see it, I can feel it, sometimes I can even taste it. Let’s say I’ve not yet reached the 26.2 mile point, but I’ve definitely crossed the 20 mile barrier. So I’ve still got 6-ish miles to go, and I know they’re going not going to be without their moments, and realistically it’ll take me a mile a month BUT I’m absolutely in the double-figures, and am definitely on the home straight- I will taste that sweet, sweet victory! Good job too, my legs are bloody tired from all this running; or rather they’re lethargic from never having the energy to run anywhere, at points even struggling to walk 30 metres due to the extreme fatigue. (Wow, I just felt a swell of emotion and had completely unexpected tears spring into my eyes there as I wrote that! I feel a huge sense of pride, of achievement, of RELIEF.) But it’s been a long road to get here. I’ve been to hell and back.

I’ve entitled this article ‘How to be Sick’ but in actual fact I think it could alternatively be called ‘How to be Alive’ as many of the things I’m going to share apply across the board, sickness or no sickness. But if you are reading this right now and you ARE sick, maybe even really sick- perhaps the words ‘chronic’, ‘incurable’, or ‘terminal’ are in there. Sweetheart, I am so sorry. I wish I could take it away from you. I really do. I’m sending you positive healing energy right now. But as lovely as that is we both know that that just isn’t going to cut it. What I do know is that despite all the doctors, scans, operations, supplements, medication, treatments and rehabilitation programmes in the world: in the end, the only person that can really heal you is yourselfAnd no matter where we are or what we’re faced with, there are many MANY steps we can, ourselves, take towards this (many of them without even leaving our sick bed). I hope that a few of my suggestions might prove helpful for you. No doubt our symptoms, illnesses and lives are very different, but whatever your ‘big something’ is, my hope that a few of these might go some way to help you on your healing journey.

I say ‘big something’ as over the course of my illness I have had SO many of those awkward as hell encounters when you meet someone for the first time, or see someone you haven’t seen in ages and they don’t know about your illness (why should they? You don’t want to tell them) and they make normal person chat (only trying to be nice of course) and ask you something like: ‘how are you?’, ‘what have you been up to?’ or the DREADED question: ‘and what is it that you do?’ Hmmm…. What do I do..? Well these days I’m pretty much a full-time sick person. What have I been up to? Being a house-bound sick person mostly. You know, the usual- a few extended moments of utter desperation here and there. How am I? Pretty fucking awful to be honest, and also aware that after this conversation is over I’m probably going to have to go and lie down for the rest of the day (through no fault of yours) as this exchange is making me SO exhausted… in fact I need to make sure that it doesn’t go on for much longer. How are you? Of course I DO want to know how you are but to be perfectly honest I doubt I have the energy to actually listen to your response. And hearing about your ‘normal’ life of doing ‘normal’ things just makes me feel even worse. What’s that? Are you COMPLAINING about your life? Do you know how LUCKY you are to have your health? Can I leave now and get back to being a desperate, house-bound sick person please? And then the guilt that follows from being ‘rude’… Ah, the dreaded ‘normal people’ conversations. One of the main reasons I left the city was so that I didn’t have to face any more of these ‘normal’ encounters when I simply wasn’t strong enough for them.

But a few months ago I had one that left me SMILING.

I was at a quaint music festival in the Highlands where we were taken on a tour, by coach (and even by a chartered steam train) to watch pop-up concerts at beautiful natural locations such as in the middle of a pine forest, or on the side of a stunning loch. My energy was great that day, and in between bands my Dad and I were foraging for berries and mushrooms. As night-time approached the festivities moved into a local community hall (more quaintness) and I had stepped outside to give myself a break from the loud music (I have VERY sensitive ears, literally can’t abide bad music; especially bad music that is really loud). I didn’t really know anyone so I was just leaning against the wall, only marginally uncomfortable in my aloneness. A man walked up to me, dressed in nothing but a leopard print toga, welly boots, sunglasses and a hat that resembled the ones worn by the guards at Buckingham Palace, but his had a distinct ‘jungle’ vibe. Oh yeah, had I forgot to mention that the entire festival was Safari themed? There were zebras and lions and loincloths everywhere. Anyway, we got to chatting, he was one of the festival organisers who owned the huge, sprawling country pile that had hosted part of the day’s music, and after a while he asked me the dreaded: ‘and what is it you do?’ question. I was silent for a moment, hesitated, and mumbled something about not very much, I’m taking a bit of a time out at the moment. And he looked at me, and without losing his stride for a second said ‘Ah, you’re in recovery from a big something?’ Yes. I’m in recovery from a big something, that’s exactly it. And we carried on talking as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Best ‘and what do you do’ conversation ever. Good man.

Personal

So I’ll start with the personal, then I’ll get into the list, opening my box of tricks and diving into the practical, and then we’ll get to the REALLY big stuff, the profound. But before I get on with emptying the valuable contents of my treasured toolbox for your perusal let me briefly share my ‘story’. I was not always a happy sick person, oh no, in fact I was an EXTREMELY unhappy sick person for quite some time… I came crashing down with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/M.E. when I was 25 years old, living the supposed ‘high life’, across the Atlantic from my Scottish home, in New York, where I was interning in the curatorial department in the biggest contemporary art gallery in the world. I was meant to be living the dream. My American dream turned into an American nightmare. When I admitted defeat I flew back to the U.K. such a broken woman I was unsure if I would even make it home on the plane. I collapsed: physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, spiritually- I collapsed in every which way possible. I spent days, weeks, months in bed. Often I was too tired to even sit up at all. Over the past two years I have frequently been so tired that I can’t speak, or think. More often than not being around other people has been torture. Sometimes I can’t so much as have a conversation over the phone for an entire week. I can count the number of times I have seen my beautiful nieces and nephew over the last year on one hand because as much as I dearly love them, after 10 minutes with them it can feel like my head is going to explode. It’s been far from easy. At one point (much more recently that you would think) I even planned my own funeral: Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock‘ for when people were taking their seats, Nick Drake’s ‘From the Morning‘ for the few misty-eyed minutes that those assembled were to remember times we had spent together, and Van Morrison’s ‘Astral Weeks‘ as everyone was leaving again. If I was going to die from this, then at least the music HAD to be right (as I said, I simply cannot abide bad music.) I just stopped short of writing all this in a letter, along with a speech I wrote to be read out by my Dad at the funeral, sealing it in an envelope for my parents marked ‘just in case’ and strategically placing it somewhere noticeable in my bedroom, should the unthinkable happen. Both the speech and the song lyrics were carefully chosen to tie in with my spiritual beliefs, which will pop up in many guises over my list of 108 tips and tricks for healing (mostly in the ‘profound’ ones). Well, at least I’m partly mentally (and practically) prepared for when that inevitable day does come, as it will for all of us, but I have to say, I am bloody relieved it’s not now, and that it won’t be for a LONG time.

So I planned my funeral. What else? Of course I howled in several doctors offices: FIX ME! CAN’T YOU SEE THERE IS SOMETHING VERY WRONG WITH ME?! FIX ME, GODDAMN YOU! (I lost count of all the  blood-tests and scans, all of which showed nothing.) I went to specialist after specialist: surely you can fix me?! No one could. I blamed them all. I blamed my hollow career ambitions to work in the soulless art world; I blamed my emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend; I blamed the party-hard lifestyle I dedicated my late teens and early to mid twenties to; I blamed my dysfunctional upbringing that was characterised by my parents’ divorce… Oh man, did I blame, Blame, BLAME. WHY ME?! WHY WOULD THIS HAPPEN TO ME? WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS?! I fully embodied the role of the persecuted victim. I was a superstar. And when that didn’t work I did what I’d always done: I sucked it up and FORCED myself back out into the world. I got a job, I started a new relationship, I went back to my old life. I managed to keep up this charade for a few months, and did a good job of pretending that I wasn’t a sick person until I broke down completely, AGAIN (I was never ‘repaired’ of course, apart from on the most superficial level). I simply could not deny it any longer.

I was SICK, man, was I sick.

I left the job, I left the relationship, I left the city I’d lived in and all the friends I’d made over the last decade and I moved back to the countryside and in with my Mum and for a good few months I resumed my role as the persecuted victim (I knew the lines off by heart of course) until I realised once and for all that it wasn’t serving my best interests at all, and I would NEVER heal if I kept going like this, and I finally, slowly, falteringly, painstakingly, started learning to be a happy sick person. I stopped blaming everyone. Most of all I stopped blaming myself. I went into therapy. I stopped ‘do-ing’ and I started ‘be-ing’. I somehow managed to make the transition from strung out social butterfly who literally couldn’t stand to be in her own company, to the happy hermit who simply LOVES nothing more than to be alone; but who still eventually wants to leave the chrysalis for good and get back out into the big wide world.

Most importantly I started to acknowledge that Real healing is not just of the body: Real healing is of the BODY, MIND, HEART, SOUL and SPIRIT. In fact, in many ways the body is the least important on this list. I learned that if you fully commit to fixing the MIND, HEART, SOUL and SPIRIT, then the BODY will follow, no matter what the illness, no matter how serious. I dedicated myself to it 100%. And as much as I stopped with all the blaming I faced the profound and painful reality when it comes to healing:

Our biography becomes our biology.

And although no one, least of all myself was to ‘blame’ for this illness the truth was that with my biography (I’d been through quite a lot over the years, it must be said), coupled with ALL the bad choices I’d made over the years… well ALL that (and more) went into my illness, so of course there was no doctor that could ‘fix’ me. I would have to learn how to do it myself, untangling one knot at a time, and there were MANY knots. That’s not to say I haven’t had a LOT of help from others, I have, LOTS. I am eternally grateful to my parents for agreeing to support me, allowing me to take all the time I need to recover from this illness, I know that not everyone has this luxury. But I had bottomed out completely, there was literally no other option, my illness was so severe that I have simply HAD to bow out of the ‘world’ completely in order to make a full recovery, and I’m getting there, I’m really getting there. But at the end of the day the only Real healer is yourself and I can say with absolute certainty that today I am a happy sick person. In many ways I am the happiest I have ever been in my life, despite still being a ‘sick person’. (But I’m not going to say I still don’t have my bad days, of course I do, I still have bad entire weeks sometimes in fact.) One of my main reasons for writing this is that when one of these inevitable bad days (or God forbid, weeks) rears their ugly head then I can re-read this and remind myself of just how far I’ve come, be hopeful for the exciting things that the future is going to bring, and in the meantime, remember the things that help me to feel GOOD, even when I’m feeling BAD.

And if it helps me then there’s a chance it might just help someone else too, right?

So below are the things that have really helped ME with my M.E. Maybe some of them will help you too, word for word, but I would ask you, when you are reading through them, if it doesn’t seem exactly relative to you, ask yourself ‘what is MY equivalent of this?’ For me it might be candles, crystals and folk music, for you it might be luxurious hand-cream, talking to the plants in your greenhouse and knitting. Whatever, it’s all relative. But the intention is the same. And even if we aren’t able to dedicate every waking hour to healing ourselves, we can decide to take every available moment that we can, and make changes to our lifestyles, big and small, where we can, to serve our highest interests. And you can make SO many more changes than you think. This is not easy of course, I left my ENTIRE life behind. I’m not exactly sure what will be there when I go back to it: back to the ‘good’ bits that is (my family, my friends, my community, my yoga and dance classes)- the bad I’ve severed ties with completely, for good. So what are the things that we can do to make ourselves feel good, to make ourselves feel better, to help ourselves HEAL? (N.B. try as we might we simply cannot ‘make’ ourselves heal. No amount of pushing, force and making demands will EVER lead to healing. It is about accepting, allowing and surrendering. No matter how long it takes.)

So below is my guide of 108 personal, practical and profound ways to become the happiest sick person you will ever meet. My healing BIBLE if you will. We’ll journey from the practical to the profound with a couple of detours on the way. (and if I don’t say so myself, MAN ALIVE, it’s gonna get PROFOUND. Stick it out, hey?! FYI the ‘profound’ section kicks in around the 50 mark, I need to warm up first. If you’ve got the practical stuff down already then you could just jump to the profound, this is where the BIG TRUTH is). At first I was a Rookie when it came to knowing how to heal, but as I say, in the past two years I’ve been to hell and back, and in this past year I have fully dedicated myself to healing- it has been my job: every day, every hour, every minute, and I may be an uncharacteristically young player, but these days I’m definitely batting for the big leagues. So although with many of these I am playing soft-ball, sometimes I am going to play hard-ball. Some of these truths are sugar coated and will go down easy, but equally some of these might be bitter as hell and hard to swallow. But this entire thing is about healing WITHOUT pills of any sort. Pills are never going to help you heal. They can treat the symptoms, yes, but they will NEVER treat the cause. (Why 108? Because this number is revered by the Mathematicians of Vedic culture who viewed this number as representing the wholeness of existence). And healing, Real healing is a return to wholenessTo be healed does not necessarily mean to be cured. To be healed does not even necessarily entail making a full recovery. But by pursuing Real healing, no matter whether or not our illness has a ‘cure’ or not, we CAN return to wholeness.

Practical

So let’s get started with this list.

  1. Straight off the bat I’m going to contradict myself. STOP MAKING LISTS. Allow yourself to forget about all those things you ‘should’ be doing, all those things you ‘would’ write on your to-do list, and just allow yourself to BE. The world will not stop without you, it’s ok, REALLY.
  2. Equally stop looking at the calendar, stop looking at your watch, do not pay attention to the rate at which the days, weeks, or months pass by. Live from moment to moment and allow yourself ALL the time you need to heal. Never impose it from without, your healing journey has its own timetable, your job is not to schedule it, your job is to fully surrender to it. I used to fill every single hour of every day and was NEVER without my diary. Live completely off schedule. Or write one thing in every day: ‘HEALING’.
  3. Be patient, be gentle, take each day as it comes. There will be good days, there will be bad days. Try not to let the good days excite you so much that you get ahead of yourself, do WAY too much and then end up crashing and setting yourself back. (I can be particularly bad for this.)
  4. But whatever you do don’t let the bad days get you down. Open to them. Love them. Lay low: ‘slow and low, that is the tempo’ to quote the Beastie Boys. Don’t allow yourself to think that you’re back to square one just because you’re having a bad day, or even a bad week. You’re not, I promise, it’s all swings and roundabouts. Remember that recovery is NEVER linear. If it were a graph, it would look like this:Recovery graph
  5. If you do schedule things, and of course it is lovely to plan to do things that we really want to do with people that we really like, make peace with the fact that you might have to cancel if you’re just not feeling up to it that day. That’s ok. You can do it another time. It’s always ok. If they’re a good friend then they will understand. Start getting comfortable saying ‘No’ when you don’t want to do something. Whatever it is.
  6. Start thinking about the things you want to say ‘Yes’ to.
  7. Do them.
  8. In order to find out what these things are. Moment to moment ask yourself the question: ‘What can I do for myself in this moment?’ or ‘What would make me feel good right now?’ A bath? (who cares if it is 1 p.m. in the afternoon), Curling up on the couch under a blanket with that novel? Calling a friend who you always feel good after talking to? An episode of your favourite programme that never fails to cheer you up? A Walk?
  9. Do it.
  10. And when you’ve noticed that it’s stopped working and you don’t feel good anymore ask the question again: Maybe the answer this time is: lying down in a darkened room? Sitting quietly and drinking a cup of tea in complete silence? Having a wee cry?
  11. Do it. And so on.  (And never repress a wee cry- or even a BIG cry- let it out, feel the feelings, ask them questions, send love to them, and let them pass. If you allow yourself the time and space to cry they will pass MUCH more quickly and effectively than if you were to try to fight it, or ‘suck it up.’)
  12. Lie down and REST.
  13. Lots.
  14. In bed.
  15. Out in the sun. Especially out in the sun.
  16. On your made bed with a blanket over you during the day.
  17. In bed or on your made bed with a blanket over you at any time of the day or night with healing crystals positioned all over your body. I have been known to lie with up to 10 crystals at a time. Often even using an eye-mask to hold them on my third-eye and crown chakras, yup.
  18. Get into crystals. These tiny energetic powerhouses can help heal SO many different illnesses and they are so PRETTY. Amethyst for skin cancer, Rose Quartz for any heart issues, clear Quartz for absolutely ANYTHING. (This is the most purifying crystal there is, I have a beautiful palm -sized one I received as a gift which on any given day spends several hours in my hand).
  19. Breathe deeply. Lie and BREATHE. Sit and BREATHE. Stand and BREATHE. Walk and BREATHE. Talk and BREATHE. Simply BREATHE and BE. Deep inhales through the nose and exhales through the nose. Breathe deep into your belly. Sometimes I do a few counts of ‘in for 4, hold for 4, out for 4.’ Let the breath breathe you and relax you. Nothing beats breathing.
  20. Be grateful. Be grateful when you wake up in the morning that you have woken up in the morning (hard when you have a splitting migraine I know, but try). Be grateful at night before you go to sleep. I have a ‘gratitude jar’ where I write at least one thing I’m grateful for that has happened over the course of the day and I fold it up and put it in the jar. (Sometimes I’ve SO many things that the scrap of paper is covered in tiny indecipherable scribbles. Other days, the really bad days, I can struggle for even one thing… even if it’s just ‘a yogurt’, that’s something. One day when all I could face doing was watching trashy rom-coms it was ‘Ryan Gosling and Ashton Kutcher.’ Yes- I am grateful for their handsomeness, that their handsomeness exists in the world.) On the really bad days, tip it out and read through all the scraps. Feel better? Thought so.
  21. Eat food as if your life depended on it. It does. Healthy food. Food is medicine. Always make sure to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, every day. Fuel your body, give it good, wholesome, lovingly prepared food to encourage it to heal.
  22. LISTEN to your body. It is a font of knowledge. Make a friend of the body and ask it what it would like to eat, what would make it feel good? If it says an entire tub of ice-cream then you’re probably not listening to the right voice. Listen deeper. It WILL tell you: a bowl of hot soup? a salty broth or a sweet thickened root veg soup? Some rich, dense, grounding meat? A cold crispy salad? Chocolate? (perfectly acceptable).
  23. Which foods are REALLY quote-unquote ‘healthy’? Read up on nutrition. Do your research. Oh yeah, and while we’re on what is ‘healthy’: have you given up the fags, drugs and booze? Sure, if it really isn’t detrimental to your healing then a glass of wine or a nice artisan beer every now and then, but be honest, how does it affect YOUR body and mind? Know your truth. My truth is that there was no way my body was going to be able to heal if I kept on filling it with toxins. Poor thing– didn’t it have enough to deal with? That’s not to mention what it did to my MIND, and my relationships. My other truth when it comes to this is : ‘My name is Emma and I’m an alcoholic.’
  24. You might want to look at the amount of sugar that is in your diet: I don’t just mean processed sugar- I also mean all the sugar in fruit, grains and root vegetables. Sugar is the underlying cause of many diseases and often is the main cause of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the main cause of illness- MANY different illnesses.
  25. You might also want to have an honest think about whether it might be beneficial to your healing for you to start eating meat. I know, I know, controversial. But starting to eat meat has honestly been one of the BIGGEST factors in my own healing. I have not had an easy time accepting this.
  26. When you’re having a good day and have the energy, try out some of your favourite healthy recipes.
  27. When you’re having a really bad day still make sure to eat well, even if you are literally getting up out of bed to get food, go to the bathroom and then going back to bed. Be extra-super-very nice to yourself on these days, it’s hard, you need all the support you can get. Give it to yourself. The more you support yourself now, the quicker you’ll get back on your feet again.
  28. Before eating be thankful for the nutritious food you are lucky enough to have before you. Sit at the table. Enjoy eating in silence. Taste every ingredient. Savor every mouthful.
  29. Maybe you are lucky enough to live with someone nice who will bring you food in bed on the bad days and will cook something delicious and nurturing for you whether you are able to help or not. Wow, you are lucky. Appreciate it.
  30. Soothe yourself in the evenings by lighting candles and burning incense or lovely aromatherapy oils: Lavender to relax, Geranium to balance, Rosemary to invigorate and uplift. Do it for yourself. You deserve it.
  31. Once you’ve set the atmosphere, listen to your favourite music. REALLY listen to music. Let it touch your heart and make your soul soar. Have a wee weep into a pillow if you need to. (There’s something beautiful about these wee cries.)
  32. SING– maybe you want to sing along to one of your all-time favourite great sing-along songs while making one of those delicious, nutritious, lovingly prepared meals you are making for yourself? Who cares whether you are in tune or not? Maybe you want to combine singing and healing TOGETHER and chant some healing mantras in Sanskrit? Ah, they make you feel all warm and BUZZY. I meet with a group of lovely people regularly to sing some in a yurt by candle-light, it’s lovely. Hopefully I will be singing on my friend’s album when he records some of the beautiful mantras he has written in the new year. Perhaps you even want do one of the things that makes me really happy (when I have the energy) which is to record myself singing some of the folk songs I love which I share online under my sultry sombre folky songstress alias.
  33. Do you play an instrument, or did you in the past? Could you take it back up? I have to say that this one is still in the intention stage for me at the moment, but hey- everything begins as a thought. I have a guitar, a violin, a ukelele, a keyboard (under the bed) a recorder and a tin whistle (in a drawer somewhere) and a tambourine and maracas lying around my house, patiently waiting for me to take them up. Honestly, I just haven’t had enough energy for these yet. Sure, I’ve danced around with the tambourine a few times but every time I try to sit down with the guitar I quickly become super frustrated, feel a migraine coming on, and have to give up. But I accept. I’m not quite ready yet. I will be. Are you? (New Year’s Resolution for 2016. 2015’s was ‘start a blog.’ Well, would you look at that!)
  34. DANCE– like no one is watching: around your bedroom/living room/kitchen/garden to excellent, upbeat music. Do it in your pyjamas, do it in that dress you used to love going out dancing in, with the intention that you will get to air it on the dance-floor again one day in the future. Do it naked. Not enough energy to dance around? Do some bed-dancing (yep, exactly as it sounds. dancing, but while lying in bed.) Too much of a headache to listen to music at all let alone dance? I’ve been there, I’ve been there for weeks on end. Accept it, and in the words of Depeche Mode ‘enjoy the silence.’ The time will come for music listening and dancing (whether of the in bed or out variety.)IMG_6091
  35. Get out into NATURE. Go for walks (when you have the energy.) Be honest when you don’t, Sometimes I have had to be indoors for over a week my energy has been so precarious. It’s all allowed. But when you do have the energy- get out there! And If you’re on the fence, maybe this is a time to give yourself a little push? Break through that Agoraphobia! Even to the end of the road? I bet you’ll often end up going further. Walk slowly, take it all in. Hug trees. Take naps in trees, and on haybales, on a park bench (be the best dressed in hobo in town; I did this regularly while I was still living in the city and in recovery). Go for a walk with beautiful music in your ears. Go for a walk and listen to the sound of the birds, the river and the leaves rustling in the trees. Live in the city? Walk through the park, every day you can. Walk along streets with rose bushes. Stop and smell the roses. Walk along streets with lavender bushes. Stick your hands in them and smell the beautiful scent. Rub it in your hair. Rub it in someone else’s hair. Get out of the city into REAL Nature whenever you can. Live in the country? Appreciate it. Go for a walk and observe the changing seasons: the leaves as they change colour, then fall; the gothic, spindly bare trees through Winter. Crack your boots on ice-covered puddles and marvel over the beauty of snow on the hills. Feel like life is beginning all over again when everything starts to bud in Spring before bursting into the lusciously verdant world of GREEN you’d forgotten even existed. See the world come alive, the sun shine, the grass grow, and the country lanes blossom with wild flowers, berries, bees and butterflies. Watch the fields grow high with barley, watch as they all get cut down, turned into haybales and Winter comes again. Watch it all over again. Everything changes, everything dies. Reflect on this. Is there anything more magical? Appreciate it.
  36. Paint a picture, paint a birthday card for a friend, throw a pot, knit a scarf, make little models out of clay, out of your kids’ play-dough… Whatever. Create. Something. Who cares if you have the art skills of a five year old. I do and it doesn’t stop me. Don’t believe me? Here’s one of my efforts, a picture I made based on a Chakra meditation I did once.   chakra painting
  37. That reminds me: Meditate. MEDITATE. Meditation is without a doubt THE most important healing activity in my life. Actually it’s the most important activity in my life, full-stop. It has changed it beyond recognition. It can heal anything and anyone. Here’s something I wrote about it. I can’t even begin to explain it here, please follow the link and have a read if you’re interested. That’s just the beginning, I’m currently writing a book about it called ‘The Silent Meditation Retreat.’ If I could put a star on this one, out the entire 108, I would. ******************************* Oh look, I can!
  38. How to get started? Maybe try an online guided meditation.
  39. Why not, (if you have the energy) see about going to do a course at a local Buddhist Centre. Many of them teach meditation completely removed from the religious context. I did this for 6 years.
  40. Or maybe you want to jump in at the deep end and do a 10 day silent meditation retreat where you meditate for 10 hours a day. I did my first one last year. You will learn so much about yourself and the nature of the universe that it will blow your mind! (This is what I’m writing the book about btw, the technique is called Vipassana meditation. They have centres worldwide.)
  41. And what goes hand in hand with meditation? Yoga, of course. If you have the energy, find a local class, go along on a good day and if you like the teacher and you feel good after it, then go again. If you don’t, don’t. Look for another teacher, look for another style. Yin yoga and Dru yoga are lovely, slow, relaxing forms of yoga that would be perfect for someone who is convalescing.
  42. If you have yoga class ‘scheduled’ but you really don’t feel well enough. Be kind to yourself. Listen to your body. Sit this one out. If you feel on the edge and can’t decide whether or not to go. Maybe this another one of those times to give yourself a little push? If you usually feel really good after class then perhaps you will this time too?
  43. Do as I do and develop your own at home yoga practice. Here is my guide on ‘How to do the Perfect Sun Salutation.
  44. Do as little, or as much as you feel like. Never push yourself. It should feel GOOD, it should feel soothing, relaxing, ENERGISING. It should not feel frustrating. Sometimes on my really bad days my yoga practice is honestly just lying in ‘corpse pose‘ on the floor (yep, exactly as it sounds.) Sometimes with added crystals. On my REALLY bad days I consider it a great achievement if I manage to move from lying in my bed to lying on the floor for a little while. No matter how bad I feel I am still finding ways to care for myself.
  45. Want to try the most AMAZING form of yoga I’ve ever come across that makes energy RISE up your spine and through the top of your head and makes you BLISS OUT in complete and utter EUPHORIA?! Then try Kundalini yoga (and come to my classes when I am a fully qualified teacher. Here’s hoping by September 2016- New Year’s Resolution!)
  46. What do you think about Astrology? Sure the horoscopes in newspapers and magazines are absolute BOLLOCKS but do you not think that there’s something in the fact that we might JUST be affected by the movement of the planetary system that we are the most MINISCULE part of?! Check out this guy Kaypacha’s weekly astrology reports– not for each different starsign, but for the planet as a whole. Watch in wonder as you see the macrocosmic movements of the planets to be mirrored on the microcosmic level of our personal lives. Really helps to know what’s going on when shit seems to be hitting the fan all over the place.Crazy trousers
  47. Clothing. Now this might seem a bit ‘surface’ at first but I think it’s important. Being a sick person means that you have to spend a LOT of time in your pyjamas and ‘lounge wear.’ I remember before I got sick my flatmate saying to me once as we were sat watching a film and I was dressed as if I were at work ‘you just don’t do lounge wear, do you?’ And I didn’t. I was FAR too busy to. I was either at work, socialising, or I was in bed (I hadn’t the first CLUE how to relax: a big part of the reason I got sick of course.) But when you’re sick this changes. Get pyjamas you really like. Get a comfy dressing gown (mine has a hood with ears). If you find that by the next Winter you are STILL sick and when you dig out the fleecy pyjamas that you used to LOVE from last year from the drawer and find that when you put them on you feel physically SICK because they remind you so much of how much WORSE you felt last year- send them to charity, or bin them. Something else I’ve found about clothing: within your limited ‘sick person’s wardrobe’ find ways to make yourself happy. When I was growing up I had a penchant for brightly coloured and patterned trousers. I had totally forgotten about it for a decade but once I started to reconnect with myself I realised it was important to me to re-embrace ridiculous trousers. So I lounge about in the brightest, busiest, craziest comfy trousers you have ever seen, and it makes me really happy. (These ones were a gift, what a great gift). And a completely new one- I have found that it FILLS me with joy to do yoga in full length brightly coloured leotards, all colours of the rainbow (or yogatards as I like to call them.) Makes me DANCE with glee. I intend to be known for them when I become a yoga teacher. What’s your equivalent? A ballgown in bed isn’t the most practical of course, but whatever it is, find a way to channel it. And don’t forget to dance around in that dress in the hope that one day you might be able to do it again, outside, in the world, at NIGHT, with PEOPLE, for REAL.
  48. When you can, when you feel like it, as much as you can: laugh, play, be SILLY. BE A BIG KID. Seek out people who make you laugh until you cry. Ah, how I wish I had more of these people in my life right now. (This is one thing I really look forward to about getting back to the ‘good’ bits of my ‘old’ life.)
  49. When you’re having a REALLY bad day find a mantra: one that I’ve found really works for me is to say to myself ‘I treat myself like I would a sick child.‘ And I try to be as super-duper gentle, patient and loving with myself as I possibly can be.
  50. It might feel strange at first (ok, it definitely will) but use terms of endearment, as you would with someone you care for, with yourself. Darling, Sweetheart, My Dear. Whatever works for you. Especially on these days where you need to be extra-super-very gentle with yourself.
  51. On these days it’s also important to have something to cuddle.
  52. Are you lucky enough to have a real live person to snuggle up with? Do you know how lucky you are? Appreciate it. Do you have a dog or a cat? Make them your snuggle buddy.
  53. If, like me, you unfortunately don’t have a special person to cuddle right now, or a furry friend, then hug a hot water bottle, hug a pillow, hug a cuddly toy (shhhh… but honestly, try it). Have a wee weep into a pillow if you need to. Darling, it’s a beautiful thing that you want to love and be loved.      

    Profound

                             

  54. It is a sad truth that when you are in recovery from a ‘big something’and you have to bow out of your life (as it was) that friends (and even family) WILL fall away, and perhaps will even withdraw for you. This is tough. You are going through the WORST possible time in your life and instead of stepping up and being there more than they have ever been there for you, your friends and family start dropping like flies. They stop calling, they stop visiting. You feel so alone.
  55. Man, this is HARD. It’s so hard to have to be more or less house-bound practically ALL the time. It’s so hard to barely have the energy to send, or even reply to a text message, let alone have a phone call, or God forbid SEE someone, even for a coffee (getting the bus into town, and having to be in a busy cafe, surrounded by lots of people, talking for over an hour and then having to make it ALL the way home again.) Are you kidding? I’d have to be in bed for days after that.
  56. Know this- Sometimes the people that care about us the most find it the hardest to be around us when we are sick as they simply do not know what to say, or do. They want so badly to be able to take our pain away for us, but they can’t, and it hurts them. It hurts them so much to see us suffering that they have to stay away. Forgive them. Also, it must be said: you know how Misery loves Company? Well Company can’t stand Misery, her negativity is catching like the Plague! Company has to stay away to protect himself. Don’t be a misery-guts, jus’ sayin’.
  57. And let’s be honest. On average how much time do you really spend thinking about other people? I know that I spend the majority of my time thinking about me, Me, ME- and often I am far too caught up in all my own stuff to check in on other people. They are exactly the same. It’s not that they’ve stopped caring about you. Not for one second. But they have their job, their commitments, their kids, they may not have a ‘big something’ but they sure as hell have got a lot of ‘little somethings’ of their own to deal with. And it’s true of course that right now you aren’t able to do the things that you used to do together: go for coffee, go to the park, go to the cinema, go out dancing, visit them at all. In some ways it’s quite simply a case of out of sight out of mind: and yeah, you’re in your house all the time! Hey, it’s ok! Forgive them. Find ways to enjoy being in your house- that’s where you need to be right now. And If you find yourself thinking about them, instead of saying to yourself: ‘I NEVER hear from them, don’t they care how I am? I’m SICK!’ text them, call them, as them how they are. How do you feel now? Better? I thought so. And God forbid, if any of them end up suffering from a ‘big something’ of their own in the future, you know what it feels like to go through that, and you know just how lonely it can be, and just how it means SO much to feel supported, so you can do it for THEM.
  58. Know this also- People are in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Some of the friends that have fallen away might have just been ‘seasoners’; some of the friends that fall away will have been ‘reasoners’ (in fact, you can count on that. The ex that stamped on your heart? That adversary at work? That party pal that stabbed you in the back? All reasoners. They have something to teach you and then they move on, and so do you. (often it’s a very HARD lesson) Let them go. You will meet more. The ‘lifetimers’ are not going anywhere. Sure, your ‘big something’ might mean that you’ve  barely spoken for quite some time. Maybe it’s just the odd text message, a rare phone-call. Maybe it’s going to be quite some time before you will be well enough to see them in person again, but they are ‘lifetimers’, they’re in this for the long haul, and you WILL see them again and you will get to do the things together that you enjoyed doing so much, or you will find new things to do, that fit in with where you are right now (that might very well involve no ‘doing’ at all.) And they love you.
  59. And as much as certain friends from your old life will fall away, and you might go through a period of feeling like a Billy-no-Mates social leper who is going to be ALONE, FOREVER. Worry not. You will start to meet new people that are more in tune with who you are now, and who you are becoming. They will pop up in the most unexpected of ways. Aren’t you meeting these people already? And are there friends, maybe even people who were more like acquaintances from your old life who you would have NEVER have expected to stay in touch with you as you traversed the gauntlet of the ‘big something’ who have proven themselves to be wonderfully supportive friends? Thought so. And if right now you haven’t quite reached that stage: worry not, you will. (I know I’ll be reading this section carefully on my bad days when I feel like The.Loneliest.Person.In.The.World.)
  60. No matter how your ‘big something’ has affected your friendships- without a doubt, the MOST important friendship you have to cultivate to get through this is with YOURSELF. Treat yourself as you would your best friend all the time. Start to enjoy his of her company. You are NEVER alone- you are always with your best friend, the person who you know and who knows you more than anyone else in the world. Do you really know them that well? Do everything you can to get to know them on the DEEPEST level possible. Find out EVERYTHING that happened to them in their life and how they feel about it. Be there for them. What do they love to do? Do it (when you feel up to it. It may be completely different moment to moment). What are their biggest hopes and dreams? Help them, in any way you can, to move towards making them come true, one step at a timeBe the best friend you can be. This will only help you to be an even better friend to the other people in your life.
  61. How do you go about being your own best friend? Find out WHAT makes them feel empowered: Ask them; observe them in action- by themselves, around other people, in different environments- discern the answerDO these things. Find out what makes them feel disempowered : Ask them; observe them in action- by themselves, around other people, in different environments- discern the answer: STOP DOING THESE THINGS. Find out WHO makes them feel empowered? Observe how they feel after talking to someone or spending time with them: Feel good? energised? uplifted? inspired? happy? at peace? Spend more time with these people. Find out who makes them feel disempowered: (ditto above list): Feel sad? bad? drained? depressed? negative? exhausted? STOP SPENDING TIME WITH THESE PEOPLE: and if that isn’t possible, learn how to protect yourself around them and DO NOT take any of their draining negativity personally, it has NOTHING to do with you, It’s THEIR stuff, it’s their business. You have enough of your own stuff to be getting on with, leave them to their own stuff, stay out of their business. But Darling, Forgive them. They need to learn to be their own best friend, just like us. But they have to do it for themselves. Focus on YOU.
  62. Another important way to become your own best friend: Stop that negative self talk. STOP IT. Would you talk to your best friend like that? Not in a million years. This is one of the single BIGGEST reasons you are not healing.
  63. Whenever you have a negative thought- it might just be a wee one ‘Can’t even do your dishes today? How pathetic is that?’ maybe it’s a big one ‘Who are you kidding- you’re NEVER going to get well. What’s the POINT?’ –STOPask yourself ‘Is that True?’
  64. Wait for the response. If it is a list of excuses, or blaming, or anything that is trying to convince you that you should keep listening to this voice that wants you to remain in a fear-based existence. Ask again.
  65. Is it REALLY true?
  66. Is it?
  67. Didn’t think so.
  68. Read Byron Katie, she came up with this technique. So simple but it REALLY works. (You are dialoguing with your Ego here, you are NOT it, but it tries to exert control over your life in any way it can. It wants to keep you living in a fear-based existence and will do and say ANYTHING to try and get you to stay there as opposed to opening to love. You have to play hard-ball with it. And you do this by accessing the voice of your soul. And CRUSHING the soul-destroying Ego with its truth. With love, of course. (How to you access the voice of your soul? Get SilentListen, Listen deeply, Meditate)
  69. Encourage yourself to follow your dreams. Imagine them with WILD abandon. (N.B. Your wildest dreams come form the voice of your SOUL and NOT the voice of your EGO.) Could your illness perhaps be partially explained by just how much you’ve denied your dreams to yourself over all these years? Did you deny them so much that you wouldn’t even let yourself dwell on them in your MIND, let alone encouraging yourself to pursue them in reality?  Mine certainly was. Lose yourself in the complete reverie of visioning your ideal existence: in mine I am a  perfectly healthy, wise-as-fuck widely travelled Kundalini yoga and free-style dance Teacher/Healer who is the Matriarch of a retreat centre situated in amongst the trees in the Scottish Highlands- complete with an with a big outdoor deck (for yoga and dance, and concerts) and an indoor studio (for more yoga, and more dance, and more house concerts) All of which I have paid for with the proceeds from my No.1 bestselling books and the movie that someone made of them). And when I’m not teaching yoga, dance, meditation or helping people to heal, frolicking about in nature or travelling to places of natural awesome beauty all over the planet, I’m writing MORE bestselling books. Oh and I have the most wonderful husband, of course. What’s your equivalent?
  70. Daydream. Go for it. Remove all limitations. I am going to say something REALLY important here: If you take only 3 words from this ENTIRE article make them these: ‘Thought creates Reality.’ ****************************** There’s the stars again. Yeah, yeah, I hear you: ‘I’m SICK! What good is it going to do me to imagine all of these things I WISH I could do/have but I CAN’T have because I am SICK and there is not a CHANCE IN HELL of them coming true. Nothing good ever happens to me. Even if I wasn’t sick they are too unrealistic. Anyway, it’s more likely that I’m going to DIE from this illness than for ANY of the things I wish I could do ACTUALLY happening, woe, Woe, WOE! So I’ll say the three words again: Thought creates Reality. Drink them in. If you want to keep on with those negative thoughts: about your capacity to heal, and your capacity to follow your dreams, then that’s your choice, but be careful, you have been warned. Want to give it a go and allow yourself to imagine your wildest dreams in the most intricate, alive detail you possibly can, sickness or no sickness? Just watch in complete astonishment as opportunities start to present themselves whereby taking little steps, when you feel that intuitive call, you find that your external reality starts to move, the teensiest bit at a time, in that direction. Sometimes making BIG LEAPS towards making your dreams come true. Everything starts with a thought. Healing, dreams, EVERYTHING. Illness. Jus’ sayin.
  71. And your dreams at night are just as important. Ask before going to bed to be given illuminating dreams. Write them down as soon as you wake up in the morning. Write them down in the middle of the night if you wake from a dream and remember it. I keep a ‘Dream Journal’ especially for this beside my bed. Interpret them. Firstly for yourself: what do the images and symbols mean in relation to your life? Then you can widen it out by using Jungian based dream analysis. It’s absolutely amazing what your unconscious is trying to communicate to you in your dreams. Listen. It is a very powerful form of therapy.
  72. If you need it. Get therapy. I did. I do. Ideally find a therapist who is smarter than you. Find a therapist who will not take any of your bullshit. I have found all that and more: a ridiculously smart therapist who takes absolutely NONE of my bullshit (this is quite some feat) and is an expert in dream analysis. Wow, my psyche is fascinating. So is yours- check it out!
  73. Open your mind and try out alternative therapies. They will only be able to help you if you allow yourself to be open to them. To help me heal from my illness I’ve had Reiki, I’ve had Acupuncture; I’ve had Accupressure; Cranio-Sacral Therapy; Crystal Healing; Shamanic Healing; Metamorphic Healing; Pranic Healing, Bowen Technique; I’ve had Vibrational Healing… I’m probably missing some out. I’ve had healing in person and I’ve had distance healing. Wow, have I learned more about myself, my illness and what I need to do to heal having these treatments than if I had a lifetime in the doctors office! These healings work on the energetic body. An excellent treatment, as well as healing your body on an energetic level, will help guide you towards what you need to do in order to help heal your soul, spirit, heart, mind AND body. All of these holistic therapies are all drawing on the same ‘source’ to help you heal, just in different ways. Some people are better at channeling it than others. Everyone is capable of channeling this, EVERYONE. But you want someone who has the highest possible AWARENESS of what it IS that they’re channeling. (I’ve just started my Reiki training and am now channeling healing energy myself. Wow, it’s AMAZING. Yep, it’s from the ‘source’, that’s for sure, (we’ll come back to this idea later), but I’ve been experiencing this for quite a while already since I took up Vipassana Meditation. The source is COOL.)
  74. READ. LOTS. Read all those books you have been wanting to read for years but have never had the time. Read books that expand your mind, make your heart sing and nourish your SOUL.
  75. Escape into a wonderful novel: D.H. Lawrence is my favourite. Paulo Coehlo, another. And I’ll admit- I DO re-read ‘Eat, Pray, Love‘ on a yearly basis. What’s your equivalent?
  76. Read non-fiction books on ALL the subjects you’ve secretly wanted to be an expert on for years: for me that’s Trees, Birds, Foraging, Nature, Crystals, Astrology,Yoga, Nutrition, Healing, Spirituality, Shamanism…. What’s your equivalent?
  77. Read ALL about healing the Body, Mind and Spirit. Some of my favourites are by Caroline Myss, Charles Eisenstein and Murdo MacDonald Bayne (you can read these for free online)
  78. Read the amazing book on healing your Mind, Body, Heart, Soul, Spirit AND the PLANET that I recommend to anyone that will listen: Charles Eisenstein ‘The More Beautiful World We Know in Our Hearts Is Possible.‘ (again, you can read it for free online here). Wowza, this is a good book.
  79. But there are many MANY bad books. If you start a book and you get part way in and you’re simply not enjoying it, put it down. (don’t do anything you don’t want to do, no matter how small). Find something that you will enjoy. Life is too short.
  80. When you’re too tired to read (happens to me quite a lot- that’s the sign of a BAD day) then listen to a nice audiobook. Oh how I LOVE Clarissa Pinkola Estes, you might want to read this one too.
  81. Read beautiful poetry that hits you right down in your soul: Rumi, Emily Dickinson, David Whyte, Mary Oliver and Rainer Maria Rilke are some of my favourites. Why not write poetry? if you are so inclined. I WISH I had that talent, not one I have, anyway, not yet.
  82. WRITE– write a journal. I write screeds and screeds every week, it is one of the most important tools I have of getting to know myself, and learning to be my own best friend. It is the place I can be really honest about how I am feeling, sometimes in all its horrific glory- Ah, CATHARSIS! It is also where I do all my daydreaming on paper: envisioning all the things I want to happen in my future.
  83. Write a Blog (it’s working for me! And people seem to be responding pretty well to it).
  84. Write long emails and letters to friends, people LOVE to receive snail mail. And for me, right now, I find that this is the easiest way to communicate as it demands the least energy, plus it’s just really lovely. Send someone a postcard, send it from your home. Who cares that it’s not coming from an exotic location? Whoever you send it to will be delighted that you are thinking of them.
  85. Write a BOOK. They say we’ve all got at least one book in us, right? Well since I opened to this idea I’ve realised I’ve got SEVERAL. I’m part way through writing the first one right now. (If I’ve talked to you about it you’ve no doubt heard be refer to it as my ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ It’s got to pay for my retreat centre, remember?) And my second book ‘Honouring the Chrysalis’ is also already fully written in my head; and in my journal. There would be no books if I didn’t keep a journal: the origin of all of my writing in one way or another can be traced back to my journals. I even hope that my journals will be published one day, like the Diaries of Anais Nin, who I also LOVE. But they are, by my own admission, FAR too fiercely private, intense, irrational, revealing and deeply vulnerable to be published any time soon- and this is coming from the Queen of the over-share. Oh, and I’ll say it again: Everything starts as a thought, remember?
  86. Thinking about writing and connecting with yourself and others: SCREW SMALL TALK. Life is too short. CONNECT DEEPLY WITH PEOPLE. Talk about your hopes and dreams, your passions, things that move you beyond yourself and the things you love so much it hurts. Tell your stories and talk about your irrational philosophies about this crazy world we live in. If someone doesn’t want to meet you there, then that’s their loss. Be kind, be compassionate, be loving, but don’t force yourself to make uncomfortable small talk. Silence is Golden. You can say SO much more in silence than you can in small talk. (N.B. When you say ‘I’m fine’ and you’re not: no one is fooled by these words- your energy conveys the truth. When you say ‘how are you?’ and you don’t really care- don’t be fooled, your energy conveys the truth.) Say what you mean and mean what you say and choose your words carefully. Make them beautiful: life is too short. And for those people who aren’t yet ready to meet you there: be there, waiting patiently, door open, ready to have a truthful conversation whenever they are ready, they’ve just got some work to do on learning how to be their own best friend first. Forgive them. Oh, and LISTEN, listen as passionately, deeply and attentively as you talk, if not, even more so.
  87. Get to know your silence intimately. Turn off the TV, and be with yourself. Sure, the occasional really well-made film is great; so is an awesome nature programme; a groundbreaking documentary; a fiercely intelligent, high-quality series; or something that makes you WET yourself laughing (or the once in a while guilty pleasure rom-com). But mindless television watching is one of the most soul sucking addictions there is. Make like a rock-star and throw the infernal thing out of the goddamn window. 
  88. Equally, are you even listening to what’s on the radio? Or are you merely using it as an distraction from your own thoughts? Or so that you feel less ‘alone’. (I’m only saying this as I used to do it, bigtime). Be honestYou can do it. Be with yourself. (Remember that you’re never alone- you are always with your best friend. Remember also to call yourself out on those negative thoughts!) This is HARD at first, it’s second nature to us to escape our own thoughts at every given opportunity as we don’t want to face them, but it gets easier. I promise. It becomes BLISSFUL 
  89. Speak your truth. Live from your soul. Life is too short. Don’t know what your truth is? Ask yourself. How well do you know your best friend? Get comfortable speaking your truth to yourself. Then you can begin to share it with others. Don’t know what your soul is? It’s where you find your truthOnce you know your truth never let anyone else tell you otherwise, they are probably still living in fear. Forgive them. Then again, listen to them, and listen well, and take heed if they happen to be totally right. Maybe they’ve been travelling down this ‘stop living in fear’ path for longer than you and have something to teach you. Be open to learning new things from other people, as well as for yourself, (even from the most unexpected people) and as a result changing your mind, for YOURSELF. This is called ‘soul evolution.’
  90. Are you lucky enough to be in a relationship with someone that you love unconditionally and who unconditionally loves you? Wow, you are SO lucky. Find new and innovative ways to show them how much you love them each and every day, and allow them to love you back in exactly the same way. Life is too short.
  91. Are you secretly in love with someone and would like nothing more than for them to allow you to love them and to allow themselves to love you back? Tell them. Life is too short.
  92. Do you feel unable to love? Is your heart behind a pane of glass? Is it a brick in your chest? (I’ve been there). Are you afraid of getting hurt? Of losing your independence? Or of being abandoned, again? Are you scared that it won’t work out? Do you fear that true love just doesn’t exist? If this is the case you have to do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING you can to CRACK that heart of yours wide open so that love can pour in and out. Life is too short. (N.B. Like healing you are absolutely unable to ‘make’ this happen by pushing, forcing, or demanding. It is a process of one thing: surrender.)
  93. Are you in a relationship where deep down in your soul you know that they don’t really love you and/or you don’t really love them? You have to leave (yeah it’s going to be hard, gut-wrenching, but you have to.) You have to honour your soul. And if you keep on denying it, it won’t let you get away with it. It will make you ill. Has it already? It’s better to be alone (or rather, with your best friend) than it is to stay in the wrong relationship. Wait for the real thing. You will know it when it comes. Life is DEFINITELY too short.
  94. Stop seeking emotional support from people who are just fundamentally not equipped to be able to give it to you (a relationship like the one above would be one example of this). It’s not their fault: Hurt people hurt peopleIf someone didn’t receive unconditional love themselves (usually as a child and then they unconsciously repeat the pattern in their romantic relationships and with their children) then they have NO IDEA how to provide it for another. Forgive them, they are doing the best they can. But that doesn’t mean that YOU can’t break the pattern. You can go inwards, go DEEP, right to the soul, right to the source, and learn how to receive it without needing ANYONE else to provide it for you, whether from your parents in the past, or in friendships and relationships now. How do you do that? Go DEEP. LISTEN. MEDITATE. (And about your parents- chances are they REALLY were doing the best that they could with the knowledge that they had at the the time), and then YOU can learn to give it: not only to yourself but also, to others, (maybe even to those people who sadly unintentionally hurt you so much by not being able to give it to you in the past.) 
  95. What was it? Forgive it. Forgive him. Forgive her. Forgive them ‘they know not what they do.’ Forgive yourself. FORGIVE YOURSELF.
  96. Accept it. Accept him. Accept her. Accept them. Accept yourself. Accept yourself.
  97. Release it. Release him. Release her. Release them. Release yourself. Release yourself. (If you can, having a therapist REALLY helps for this stuff because if you’re anything like me then you will have to go through a lot of fear, anger, hate, grief, resentment and RAGE before you can REALLY release things. It’s only natural. Man, did that stuff FUCKING HURT!)
  98. But enough already. Stop playing the victim. Stop holding onto your wounds. Stop with the ‘why me’s’ and the ‘it’s so unfair’s’ . Why NOT you? Would you rather that this was happening to someone else? There is no rational reason for this, the laws of the universe that we are subject to are decidedly IRRATIONAL, but there is MEANING. Find it. Remember the only real truths about being a human being: We all get ill, we all suffer, we all die. But are you JUST a human being? Are you just this body? This sick body? Are you just this mind? This unruly spoiled brat that tries to control your entire life and leaves you MISERABLE? It’s your mind that needs some serious disciplining. Stop blaming the body, the poor thing has only been doing what it’s been told by the mind. Most of all stop listening to the pathetic, fearful voice in the mind whose sole reason for existence is to make you feel that you are vulnerable, that you are separate from everyone else and that they, and the world, can harm you. GET IT TO FUCK. This is your Ego at it’s VERY worst. Learn to listen to the other voice, that’s waiting there patiently, just for you to pay attention to it that says: ‘whatever happened, whatever it was, whatever you did, whatever they did: it is completely forgiven, in fact there was never anything to forgive in the first place.’ The voice that says even in your darkest moments: ‘I have infinite love for you; I have infinite patience for you; I have infinite time for you.’ THIS is the voice of your soul. THIS is the voice that you have to learn to listen to. THIS is the voice that will tell you EXACTLY what it is you need to do to heal. Don’t think you don’t have one: you do. Don’t know how to find it: Go DEEP, LISTEN, MEDITATE. And this is also the voice that will tell you if it really is your time.
  99. Forgiveness really is everything. EVERYTHING. Darling, in Reality there is actually absolutely nothing to forgive. There never has been. You have always been and will always be innocent, invulnerable, infinite, and completely loved and  protected. Even in your illness, even in death.
  100. Ask yourself ALL the big questions: Who Am I? What am I? Why am I here? Why am I on this planet? Go DEEP. LISTEN. Meditation really helps- I could not have come to my answers to these questions without meditation. Find your own answers by committing to following your own path. (FYI- I’ve realised that the answer I’m on this planet is to be a yoga teaching, healing, wise-as-fuck…etc, (what’s your equivalent?) And the answer I’ve come to to the ‘Who am I?/What am I?’ questions is this: I AM Spirit; I HAVE a Mind; I am IN a Body.’  And it’s about using the second two in service to the first and not the other way around.)
  101. Ask yourself more big questions: Why did I get this illness? Where did I go wrong to end up with this illness? What has my illness come to teach me? How do I learn the lesson? What do I need to process in my past to allow be to move forward? How can I turn this illness into an opportunity? How can I use it to help others? Go DEEP. LISTEN. MEDITATE.   Leotard Meditation(If you have to ask the question ‘why was I born with this illness?’ then perhaps you have to open to the idea of ‘Biography becomes Biology’ but expand that idea to….dare I say it? Past Lives.) (And FYI- I know I got my illness as a result of my biography becoming my biology and lots and lots of misguided choices I made over the years as I was listening to the voice of my Ego and not the voice of my Soul. I have learned my lesson and now I am dedicated to making the right choices and using my story to help other people to break-free of their ‘stories’, and as such, to Heal. Wow, what an opportunity. I appreciate it.)
  102. Ask yourself EVEN MORE big questions: What is death? What comes after death? What if I’m not supposed to recover from this illness? What if this is my time? What does that mean for me? GO DEEP. LISTEN. MEDITATE. (FYI- What comes after death? Well, If we ARE Spirit, and we HAVE a mind, and we are IN a Body, then we can leave that body it and we will not die. And if the body is not something we ARE but rather something we’re residing in for a while, a long while (and man, isn’t it incredible? Then shouldn’t I do absolutely everything I can to take care of this thing so I can enjoy this thing called life?!) Appreciate it. Death is nothing but a cross-roads, like coming up to a junction and your car breaking down, and you simply hop out, cross over to the other side of the junction, hop in a shiny new car and you’re off again. There is nothing to fear. The thing that you ‘ARE’ goes with you: your SOUL, your SPIRIT. You cannot be harmed. You are invulnerable. And, oh, man: ‘What if I’m not supposed to recover from this illness? What if this is my time?’ Well, I have lived through that- (that day I planned my funeral, and many other days besides that) and you know what- ok, I’m going to preface what I’m about to say by stating that I am NOT a religious person, in fact I was brought up a devout atheist, so this might shock you- but I just HANDED IT OVER. I said- ‘If I’m supposed to die from this then I trust that you, whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you are, have a plan for me- and it better be a fucking good one. So if this is meant to be my time- then I accept it, I trust that you know what you’re doing. (And if now it is the time then I’m going to make sure that at least the fucking funeral music is right!) Turns out it wasn’t to be my time, this time. So dare I say it: Let go and let God. Get out of your own way. Accept that you are just part of something much bigger than yourself. Feel the overwhelming sense of relief, and JOY, and PEACE. It’s ALL allowed. There is NOTHING to fear. Don’t wait to get as close to death as I did to realise this. You don’t have to.
  103. So that brings me to this: Ask yourself THE BIGGEST questions there are : What is God? Why are ANY of us on this planet? What is the meaning of LIFE? (WOAH, those are some BIG ASS questions right there!) Well the answer that I’ve come to is that God is a word– and a big scary word at that, which causes many of us to recoil in horror at first (I’ve been there. I was there for a LONG time). But the word God could also be exchanged for the word Spirit, or Soul, or Energy, or Source, Love, Light, Creator, Big Mind or Buddha Nature, Chi/Ki/Qi, Tao, or Oneness, or All, the Whole, or Being, are you a Star Wars fan? ‘The Force.’ (What’s your equivalent? What word do you want to use? It can be anything! It could be Marjory!) It doesn’t matter what word you use- and it doesn’t matter if you choose Christianity, Buddhism, Energy Healing or Quantum Physics to get you there. They’re all different ways of pointing to the same place. And beyond being a word, what do I think God is ACTUALLY? It’s simple really: God <or insert your equivalent here>is EVERYWHERE and EVERYTHING. There’s a great Maya Angelou quote ‘There is nowhere that God is not.’ God ,or <insert your equivalent here> is inside of me and it’s inside of you, it’s inside of that flower, that cloud, that mountain. But as much as I LOVE that Maya Angelou quote, there IS somewhere that God is not: the EGO. God is NOT in our egos that keep us living a fear-based existence which falsely tells us that we are separate individuals and that we have to sacrifice, attack and defend in order to survive. It is the EGO that creates illness. It is the ego that harms other beings. On the microcosmic level it is the ego that creates negative thoughts. On the macrocosmic level it is the collective ego that breeds hatred and starts wars. The ego has unfortunately created many, many awful things in this world… What is the Ego? FEAR. It is the EGO that we have to cure ourselves of (individually and collectively) in order to heal, from ANY ‘big something’, even a ‘big something’ that has the words ‘chronic’, ‘incurable’ or even ‘terminal’ slammed in front of it. Even from a big something that involves multiple NATIONS spanning many CENTURIES. Darling, start with yourself- you simply must get rid of the Ego. You must GET IT TO FUCK.)
  104. And know this- God/Spirit/Source/Energy/Love/Light/The Force/Marjory is NOT some abstract concept that you ‘believe’ in. No, it is something you EXPERIENCE. PHYSICALLY. NO ONE who has experienced God <or insert equivalent here> would ever harm another being, they realise that attack in any way shape or form is completely futile. They realise that words can be weapons, as well as bombs (whether ‘in the name of God’ or not), and they also realise that even defense is a form of attack. The truth needs no defense. It just IS. No, no one who has really experienced God <or insert equivalent here> still lives in the fear-based mindset that pushes people to attack with words, or actual weapons. Really experiencing God <you get it by now> is like tapping into a huge big energetic force field which then flows through your body, which is the most blissful feeling you will have ever, or will ever, experience. And you can tap into this source anywhere, anytime, anyplace: you can channel it to heal yourself, you can channel it to heal others, you can channel it to help heal the PLANET. (Go back to no. 73 now for a second, get it? Get what ‘source’ is and how powerful energy healing can be when it is channeled well? Can you guess who was the most powerful energy healer that ever existed then? Yup, you got it.It is something you KNOW only BECAUSE you have experienced it. You will have had momentary flashes of it in your life before, when? When you have experienced deep LOVE. Why are we ill? Because we’ve forgotten how to experience it. Because we’ve forgotten what we ARE. We’ve been tricked into thinking that we are our EGOS. If you don’t KNOW that you have experienced it, then you haven’t, yet. But you CAN. It is your birthright, it’s why we’re here. It’s that ‘something’ that you’ve always felt to somehow be missing from your life. How do I experience it? GO DEEP, LISTEN, Live from your soul and do your equivalent of every fucking thing on this list and more and Meditate, Meditate, Meditate. And as my favourite 16th Century  Mystic Teresa d’Avila wrote about experiencing God: ‘once is enough.’
  105. Yeah, once IS enough. Once is enough to KNOW. But once you can tap into it, tap into AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Hell, spend as much of your day and night there as you can, it feels bloody great! And, another bonus, it will help you to be pretty damn wise. Use it to heal yourself (from ANY illness, no matter HOW serious), and then go on to channel it to help others and the planet. Keep going deep, keep listening, keep meditating. Keep expanding your mind, stay open to receiving updates from within and without to help you to refine your truth.
  106. When you tap into the source: FILL YOUR OWN CUP FIRST. You cannot give  to others from an empty cup. But if you make sure to fill your own cup to the brim first, then it WILL overflow into others, and eventually ALL others, no matter how they may have treated you in the past.
  107. So HEAL YOURSELF FIRST. And remember, in Reality there is no separation, (God is everything and everyone right?) So as long as you are healing yourself you ARE healing others and you ARE healing the planet. Wow, what an opportunity. Appreciate itIf you can do this then you WILL be healed. You WILL be returned to wholeness. You will be healed and returned to wholeness even if it is your time. But even if it IS your time, there’s NOTHING to fear, you’re just hopping in another car remember? (I’d want a Red Landrover Defender, or actually, I’d want a kick-ass VW Campervan. What’s your equivalent?) 
  108. And if it simply isn’t your time, if like me, you’re meant to recover from this and go on to DO stuff in the world then make sure you KNOW YOURSELF and begin to take steps to align yourself up with that dream of yours as much as possible (baby steps, everything starts with a thought). We do live in a cosmically ordered universe but YOU are the only one who can put it into ACTION. Get into alignment by following your soul. Make good choices. Get empowered. If you choose to follow the ego- that is the path of suffering, that is the path of misery, that is the path of the ‘big something’, that is the path of death. Choose to live from the soul. Commit to it 100%, then ANY ‘big something’ CAN be undone and you WILL be happy. And my Darling, be patient– although you are healed on the level of Soul, Spirit, Heart and Mind you might just have to wait a while for the body to catch up- you’ve put the poor helpless thing through a LOT. I’m still waiting for mine to catch up completely. But it WILL. Real healing is nothing short of complete transformation. It is an absolutely unbelievable experience. I am so happyMy illness is THE BEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME. This butterfly is ready to break RIGHT OUT of the Chrysalis now. And you will be too.  Live your life. Love your life. THIS life is still too short, make the most of it. Appreciate it.

********************** And please do SHARE this article, and SEND it to anyone you know who is going through a ‘big something’– it might just give them a little bit of comfort, and we need ALL the support we can get. Love x

Praying bear

 

 

 

 

I love the Planet and All the Animals so I should be Vegetarian, right? Why it just ain’t that simple: A radical take on the Meat eating vs. Vegetarianism debate

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I am liberal; I recycle and compost; I vote Green; I am pro-CND and anti-Trident, TTIP and fracking; I forage; I’m a feminist; I’m anti-consumerist; I don’t use synthetic cosmetics or toiletries; I eat a 100% wholefoods diet; I buy my clothes in charity shops; I do yoga; I meditate; I chant healing mantras, in Sanskrit; I pick wild flowers; I collect leaves, shells and stones; I don’t drink alcohol or smoke; I hug people; I hug trees; I eat organic as much as I can; I cry at injustice; I am more often than not too sensitive to read or watch the news; I am so empathic it hurts sometimes (ok, a lot); I love children and animals; I rarely curse; I drink herbal tea and filtered water (with crystals in it); I use incense; I have long hair; I practice Non-Violent Communication; If I were a man I would likely have a beard and wear sawdust covered checked shirts; I wish I had been at Woodstock; I wish I was Joni Mitchell (back in the day); I talk to the butterflies, the birds and the bees; I sing to fields of cows and sheep; I am obsessed with wellbeing, nutrition and healthy eating; I want world peace; I eat meat.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Nope, not the image of me as a man with a beard dressed as a lumberjack, wafting an incense stick, weeping over the 6 o’clock news into my Chamomile & Spearmint tea, chanting a Sanskrit mantra to calm myself down which translates as ‘I want world peace, I want world peace, I want world peeeeaaaaace’ as I’m just too damn sensitive ….

I EAT MEAT.

(…and maybe I curse slightly more than I’m letting on, but only ever for dramatic effect… And I can be a sucker for a stereotype, but again, solely for reasons of dramatic effect.)

But back to the point: Yes, I eat meat. I am perhaps one of the unlikeliest converted carnivores around. How can I possibly justify this to myself? Let alone to others? This is what I hope to go some way towards answering in this article as it’s something I have thought about a lot. A LOTThe short answer is: I can say with 100% honesty that I believe if I hadn’t started eating meat around a year and a half ago I would not be alive today: That is my truth. The long answer is…. well, it’s incredibly complex to say the least and so I am going to have to divide it into three sections: Mind, Body and Spirit.

Mind

Of course when I approach the topic of meat-eating vs. vegetarianism with my mind it’s a no-brainer: I do not want to eat meat. There is no way I can rationally justify it to myself or anyone else. The reasons for this are an amalgamation of the usual tenants of this argument: the moral and ethical dimensions of animal welfare and animal rights— and issues of intent, sentience and suffering when it comes to eating meat (I do not want to participate in the suffering of any living being, whether that be a cow killed for its meat, a goat pumped constantly for its milk, or a chicken kept in a cage used as an egg-making machine – for a while I even winced at the thought of picking wildflowers- aren’t they happier where they are?! But no, I decided, they want to be picked, they want to be appreciated for their beauty in that vase on your table- everything dies…) What else….? The environmental impact of the meat industry and agriculture— from factory down to farm level; the capitalist nature of the meat industry which seeks above all else to maximise profit; the gulf of separation between the consumer (at the dinner table) and the consumed (in the slaughterhouse) which distances us inexcusably from the killing of animals; the nutritional reasons for and against consuming animal protein and produce (the often reported dangers of red meat consumption especially); the implications of ‘species-ism’ and the inescapable violence required by continuing to live by the genetic inheritance we’ve received from our hunter-gatherer ancestors whereby we honour our animalistic predatory nature which lies at the heart of the soil-plant-animal-man food chain….

Wah! If I let my mind run away with itself I could go on and On and ON.

And that was always my biggest problem: I lived from my mind and I didn’t take into consideration the genuine needs of my body and soul.

If you have read my blog before, you will know that these days I tend to write predominately from my EQ and not my IQ— that is from my emotional intelligence and not my intellect; from my irrational body, heart and soul rather than my rational brain; from the right-hand side of my brain rather than the left; from my feminine deep inner knowing rather than my masculine fact-based font of received knowledge (although of course both of these are as essential as one another, and all the valid arguments outlined above come from the logic of the masculine, the integral counterpart to the feminine). But this article is no different. And it is this anti-intellectual approach that opens up the meat eating vs. vegetarianism debate to a new set of unusual factors I would never have even considered before, when I let my rational mind run my life.

So instead of delving into the well-trodden, completely valid and logical debates I mentioned above I’m going to get weird and wacky with it.  I intend to use my own personal experience with meat eating to guide us through how our choice to eat meat (or not) impacts us individually on the levels on mind, body and spirit— and how these tie in to the universal laws of Physics and the mystical laws of Spirituality. Which I think is quite some feat. So I might slip up a bit. I know that people have extremely strong views on this controversial topic and I want to state that I am not setting out to challenge any of these, whether for OR against eating meat, that is not my intention. I simply want to present what I’ve learned through my own experience as I think it’s totally FASCINATING, and for completely unexpected reasons. So there will be no quote-unquote ‘rational’ arguments here. If you want to fill yourself up on facts, figures and statistics then I suggest you take a look at Peter Singer’s inflammatory utilitarian ‘Animal Liberation’, John Berger’s writing on the ethical implications of eating animals in ‘Ways of Seeing’ or Michael Pollan’s ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’— I’ve just finished reading this and it takes both previous studies into account, and the wider book charts his personal journey as he follows the food chain right from industrially mass-produced corn, down through organic independent farming, right down to the hunting of a wild pig which he hunts, kills and eats as part of a meal made up entirely of hunted and foraged foods.

Ok my brain hurts. Enough intellect already!

But what is the ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma?’ It is basically the question: ‘what shall we have for dinner?’ knowing that we can choose from anything that is considered to be ‘food’ as our teeth are equally suited to eating both meat and plants.

Let me tell you– if my omnivorean dilemma were a genre it would be an EPIC.

I grew up eating from all the food groups, as most people do- and then when I began to form my own opinions and became aware of the ethical implications of eating animals as a teenager I began to dabble with vegetarianism, sometimes going the whole hog (or rather, it’s opposite) for a year or two at a time, sometimes being more lax about it. I went through down the usual ‘ignorant vegetarian’ path of eating WAY too much bread and cheese and pasta and barely a seed or legume passed my lips. By my mid twenties I would have said that I followed a predominately plant based diet: I was a master of variety when it came to grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, fruits and veggies, but I ate fish. And I ate a LOT of rice, in many different forms. In the couple of years before my diet changed radically I was one of those ‘I’ll eat meat in a restaurant but I won’t buy it and cook it myself’ kind of people. Fish was a constant though- with my qualification in nutrition I thought it was important to incorporate Omega 3 fatty acids into my diet. But even the fish I saw as a temporary measure, envisioning myself eventually cutting this (and the eggs and small amounts of sheep and goats based dairy that I ate) to transition to becoming a full on vegan, as with my Buddhist beliefs, I kept reminding myself: ‘fish have feelings too.’

These were the choices I made for myself. If there was one thing I had in spades it was WILLPOWER. I honestly thought I was being as healthy as possible. I thought I was a veritable BEACON of healthy living.

I made these choices 100% with my mind, my mind decided what my body was going to eat; my body, for its sins, had no say in the matter: I was still fully entrenched in the Cartesian rationalist mindset that we are our minds and not our bodies that I had been exposed to in high school: quite the comforting (and ultimately dangerous) belief for a young girl with such deep seated body issues and insecurities that they amounted to an eating disorder. I detested my own body so much that I clinged to Cartesianism like a life raft. ‘I’ was not this unwieldy, bulky, dirty animal body. ‘I’ was my MIND, thank you very much.

WILLPOWER. Luckily my body, despite all the limitations my mind placed on it, was on the whole very healthy for many years.

I didn’t however choose all the food intolerances I ended up being saddled with over the course of the last decade. I developed pretty severe intolerances to lactose, gluten, soya, deadly nightshade family; potatoes, aubergine, tomatoes, peppers, caffeine (I already knew this, it made me CRAZY, but I kept drinking tea and coffee to fuel my fast-paced lifestyle, every else does- why shouldn’t I?!), even oranges, ORANGES (yep, they just make me really anxious.) They all had to go.

Now- I say ‘developed’ food intolerances, but in fact, I think it is more of an uncovering— and these discoveries came about from years of a dialogue of trial and error between me and my own body, and from professional food allergy testing. As you grow more conscious you gradually begin to become more aware of how different foods affect you. It’s not that anything has changed, it’s more that you have a heightened sensitivity and once you are aware of something you know that you have to adapt to it, or continue to feel rotten. And it just continues to get subtler and subtler…

But, do you see the difference? My decision not to eat meat was a decision I made 100% with my mind and my body had no choice but to comply. The food intolerances were my BODY talking to me, and my mind had no choice but to listenThe food intolerances made me realise that I am not just my mind, and that I simply HAD to take into consideration the needs of my body.

So yes- my Omnivorean Dilemma was of gargantuan proportions, but at least it couldn’t get much worse….

Then I came down with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed, let alone keep hold of a job or a social life, or any relationships. It was touch and go for a while, a long while.

But how could I possibly get so sick when I followed such a ‘healthy’ diet?

I thought I subsisted on the healthiest diet imaginable- no nasty red meat, nor poultry, no fatty cream or butter, and lots of clean grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables. My iron strong will was beginning to fail me (it was of course the very reason I was failing) and it was only when I was so ill that I could barely stand up in the morning and was more or less permanently in tears (when I had the energy to cry, that is) that I found myself in the presence of one of (if not the most) progressive and forward thinking doctors in the country (a leading consultant on chronic illness) who educated me that my body had become so chronically ill as I had been living on a diet of SUGAR: grains, root vegetables, legumes and fruits; especially all that RICE (which is broken down in the body as 97% of the sugar content of granulated sugar!) when in order to be healthy I desperately needed to switch to a diet high in PROTEIN and FAT.

And that meant MEAT. 

That meant eating animals, becoming a carnivore- and following a diet more in line with our hunter-gatherer forebears- the ‘Paleoloithic diet’, where you eat as if agriculture was never invented- renouncing all grains and sugar and subsisting on grass fed meats, wild fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, oils and vegetables, and a bit of fruit. This has close ties with the findings of Weston A. Price- who studied the meat and full-fat dairy rich diets of remarkably healthy indigenous tribes worldwide towards the middle of the twentieth century. My doctor strongly advocated switching to this type of diet to regain optimal health. Not just for me, but for most people.

At first my mind was having none of this. My iron will was unyielding.

But after a mind-blowing seminar I reluctantly swallowed the indigestible truth. I approached my doctor with a compromise and asked if I ate a steak a month and a piece of liver a month (the most nutritionally dense food on the planet) would that cut it? He looked me up and down and asked me with complete compassion: ‘and how long have you had issues with food?’ and in that moment I came crashing down from my pedestal as I realised that he had just read me like a book and and in one fell swoop had gone straight for the jugular (wow, that’s quite a lot of cliches in a one-r)- and in that one question he somehow spoke to the eating disorders of my teenage years, and much more than that, he exploded for me in 9 words how I had been ruling my body with the iron fist of my WILLPOWER dominated MIND when it came to what to eat for YEARS- as I had done with every other aspect of my life.

THIS was why I was sick.

What he was really asking me was: ‘And how long have you been depriving your body of what it needs to be healthy?

The truth of it hit me right in the stomach.

(Let’s hand it over to my intellect for a minute) So what was the indigestible truth that my mind found so hard to accept? It was that although our teeth allow us to be omnicompetent: so we can use them to tear animal flesh as well as to grind plants, and although we CAN move our jaws in the manner of a carnivore, a rodent OR a herbivore (take your pick), and as much as we NEED specific chemical compounds that can only be found in plants to survive it is scientific fact that the human body needs nutrients that can ONLY be found naturally in meat. By this logic we can rationalise in our minds that we should not NEED to eat meat, unlike a full-on carnvivore… BUT the reality is that over the course of human evolution our bodies have evolved VERY little in terms of their physical make up since the days of Paleolithic man, and the majority of us simply NEED animal protein to survive- perhaps not to ‘survive’, but certainly in order to THRIVE.

I realised that to deny my body its essential needs was to deny my incarnation as  a human being.

And the extremely high rates of illness: diabetes, heart-disease, obesity, and chronic illness that our societies face today, when approached from the Paleolithic, or Weston A.Price models (which are gaining more and more ground everyday) argue that the cause our our desperately ill bodies is NOT red meat, fat, or dairy- but in fact, grains and sugar– it was the onset of agriculture that started this decline. And so, The healthiest thing I could do for my body was to start eating like my paleolithic forebears.

Body

So I stopped listening to my mind and I started listening instead to the wisdom of my body. It was not an easy transition to make. As I say, I did not want to eat animals. And my willpower was reluctant to abdicate its moral and ethical high-ground throne.

And just like that. Food stopped being a life or death gauntlet for me and became my medicine. That day, my mind gave in and I started eating meat and cut grains and sugar out of my diet completely was the day I stopped getting sicker and sicker and started to to heal: slowly, slowly, slowly.

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And so I began to silence my mind and to follow the messages my body was sending me. It wanted PROTEIN, PROTEIN, PROTEIN and FAT, FAT, FAT. And lots and lots of healthy green vegetables, coconut and avocadoes, healthy oils, nuts and seeds. It still does. It is especially happy when I eat a fatty sirloin steak (or my current favourite- a confit duck leg), then the cells in my body applaud and yell THANK YOU! I literally can feel the fat travel up into my brain, lubricating it and taking away my migraines, and I feel, no, I KNOW, that I am HEALING. And I am not going to argue with my body- it needs what it needs. It was ignoring my genuine needs that got me into all this trouble in the first place.

As well as following a Paleo/Weston A. Price way of eating I also am a convert to Spiritual Ecologist Charles Eisenstein’s approach to diet, which he calls the ‘Yoga of Eating‘. He writes: ‘willpower implies pitting mind against body, in the Yoga of Eating we develop greater sensitivity to the body, greater sensitivity and trust. We stop seeing the body and its appetites as the enemy, but instead listen to the messages encoded in cravings, appetites and tastes… To abandon the habits of distrust, restriction, and denial; to emerge from the shadow of willpower and trust that the body is a friend that speaks truth; and to enact that truth even if it contradicts received beliefs about what is good and bad for you – this is no small step, but truly a leap of faith.’

The body knows best. Our job is to learn how to listen. So when I ask myself the question ‘what shall I have for dinner?’ I wait for my body tell me what it wants, as opposed to my mind forcing its agenda upon this poor, helpless creature.

In order to heal the body needs protein, animal protein, it needs the flesh of other beings to restore it to its optimum state of being. I surrender and submit: I need help to recover and I need the help of animals to do that, in the form of their flesh. I remember when I shared with my yoga teacher that I had started eating meat his response was: ‘Well done. I have been a vegetarian for over twenty years but in the year after my brother died I could have eaten steak for breakfast every single day’.

Do I love animals? Yes. Do I value my life more than I value the life of a cow or a sheep? Honestly, Yes. Why? Because I believe that I have a reason for being here and a difference to make in the world, and I don’t think it is too ‘species-ist’ to say that I feel that I can make more of a positive impact upon the world than a cow can (I know at the very least I have something to say- this article being a case in point), so I’m going to do what it takes to stay alive. And right now that means eating meat. So I buy the most ethically sourced meat, fish and eggs I can (which I only intend to improve upon), and I thank the fish on my plate, and I thank the fields of cows and sheep as I walk past them for allowing me to eat their brothers and sisters as without them I would not have recovered from this illness. For reals. I might even treat them to the occasional song…

Ok. So the body needs animal protein to heal. But surely you wouldn’t have DIED if you had kept on eating grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables? Surely that is complete madness?!

Ok- so grains, legumes, fruits and all root vegetables break down in the body as sugar (as I said: Rice: 97% sugar content of the white deadly stuff). Let me me tell you an anecdote about sugar that might seem insignificant at first, but if you’ll bear with me, I’ll go onto explain why this is relevant on a cosmic level in the final section on Spirit:

During my Chronic Fatigue I developed such severe hypo-glycaemia that I couldn’t tolerate ANY sugar whatsoever- and by that I don’t mean the white processed stuff, I’d cut that out years ago, I mean that I couldn’t eat ANY fruit, and it got so bad that I even had to cut out all root vegetables— so I was so sugar intolerant that eating a single carrot would leave me bed bound for days. No jokeSugar is dangerous. It is the most addictive and legal drug there on this planet and we are all addicted to it and it is the number one cause of, not only obesity and diabetes, but also heart-disease and a whole host of other chronic illnesses. (I am not going to go into that much here as I have written a very detailed article on this already, a companion to this piece, which includes lots on Paleo and Weston A. Price and I’d encourage you to read it if you are interested ‘Can a Steak Really be Healthier for You than a Carrot :  The Fat vs. Sugar Debate’). What I will say though is that I remember a few years ago, a few months after I’d cut all processed sugar I was at work and I was REALLY tired that day, probably hungover, and I thought- you know what- I’m going to drink a can of coke to wake me up. I FELT LIKE I WAS ON ECSTASY. I couldn’t do my job, I freaked out, my pupils were completely dilated and with the caffeine and sugar I was buzzing like a washing machine on its last spin cycle- an old one that threatens to furiously jutter across the floor as if it has been possessed by some kind of demented demon.  It took me hours to regain my composure. You know that feeling when you’ve drank TOO much coffee? Well, like that but with a mega sugar hit on top. This is not a refreshing, invigorating tonic, this is DRUGS.

So that was then, this is now.

Last week I got a bit cocky and I decided I was going to eat and apple, an APPLE. I knew it was a risk as it was more on the red side than the green side of the scale (higher sugar content) but I am well on my way to being fully healed and I was having a good day and felt I could handle it. I FELT LIKE I WAS ON PILLS FOR THREE HOURS. And not in a good ‘I love you man’ way, but in a ‘shivering in the corner buzzing like a fridge, scared out of my wits’ way. I could not relax, I could not concentrate, I couldn’t even see straight. I had to force an entire can of tuna down my throat and multiple slices of corned beef just to bring myself back onto this PLANET. Sounds absolutely mental right? Well it happened. (If I ever decide to go to go to a techno night again then at least I know that I don’t need drugs or booze, I just need an apple- better only take a half to be safe thoughAnd, this, as nuts as it seems, it is intrinsically connected to my spiritual reasons for eating meat, as I will go on to explain. Brace yourself- it’s about to get PRETTY out there…

Spirit

As much as there is a discrepancy between what the MIND wants and what the BODY wants when it comes to eating meat, we also need to take into account the role our Spirit plays in all of this. Anyone who has been developing a spiritual practice for a while will tell you: we are not our minds: in fact our minds are an adversary, and not an ally. Someone who is a bit further along the path to enlightenment will say: the body is an ally but we are not our bodies either: we are in fact Spirit. We ARE spirit, we HAVE a mind and we are IN a body. Essentially we are spiritual beings having a human experience.So…to bring this knowledge into the topic food- back to sugar: the reality is that when I eat sugar in any form (a badly timed carrot or apple will do it) I vibrate out of control. It is here where the laws of Physics and the mystical laws of the universe join us at the dinner table.

Quantum Physicists argue that the entire universe is one thing: a constantly moving, pulsing, vibrating mass of energy. This includes absolutely everything, yes, even you, and every thing (and every person) vibrates at a slightly different frequency and that is what determines our material state. The lower our vibration the denser we will be in terms of matter. Looking at the food chain: animal flesh vibrates at the lowest frequency, followed by dairy, followed by legumes, followed by root vegetables and grains, followed by plants, and finally fruits carry the highest energetic vibration (as they contain the highest natural sugar content and also they are the most ethical food to eat as they ‘fall’ from the tree and so do not need to be picked, harvested, plucked, chopped, dug up, or killed, in order to be ingested by us.)

Bringing the spiritual dimension in: the mystical laws of the universe state that the entire reason we are on this earth as human beings is to ‘raise our vibration’ the act of which expands our consciousness as we transition away from dense matter towards higher and higher levels of consciousness until we will vibe away as undifferentiated balls of blissed out energy, and return to our ‘original’ state: floating in a universe of pure love, of pure vibration. (I told you it was going to get weird and wacky.)

By this crazy irrational logic then if we wanted to raise our vibration by eating then we would ALL eat the highest vibrational foods possible, right? Shouldn’t we all become fruitarians? Well, maybe in a few thousand years, but right now the collective human body vibrates at far too low an energetic pulse to be able to handle all that sugarthat’s why we’re all so sick, remember?  But, it is no surprise that the traditional monastic diet is completely vegetarian/vegan, and there have always been legends that Tibetan zen masters and yogis subsist purely on air, purely on the positive vibes, man). At the meditation centre I go to to do Vipassana, the diet is strictly vegetarian and if it is your first time then the only food you are permitted to eat after midday is a piece of fruit (if you are a returning student then you eat nothing at all after midday)- and this ALL goes towards helping to raise your vibration- so you can reach higher states of bliss on the meditation cushion as when you raise your vibration you exponentially expand your consciousness towards enlightenment.

And it IS true, when you are dwelling in these environments of extremely high energy you can subsist on next to nothing. Last time I was there working in the kitchen I ate like a bird and was able to do more physical activity than I have since before my illness as I was riding so high on all the positive vibes, I can be a very clear channel for them. But the reality is that the majority of our world right now is very different, and when I left the centre I couldn’t get out of bed for a MONTH and could have eaten an entire cow every single day. I needed to eat the equivalent of a steak and 2 chicken breasts every day for the best part of a month, just to stay conscious, just to keep myself from shaking off this mortal coil.

But again, I ask- if this stuff about the vibrational frequency of food is true then why on earth would anyone eat meat? Surely we should ALL immediately switch to a vegan diet to raise our collective consciousness, and embrace all our animal bretheren in a friendly bear hug so that we can all dissolve into pulsating bubbles of LOVE together?! Well, yes, indeed.

But the truth is that our planet still is a long way off. We’ve still got a lot of work to do. And although many of us are raising our vibrations on a daily basis (meditation is the single most effective way to do this) until the overall vibration of the planet pulsates in harmony with the elevated consciousness of these people who are dedicated to becoming more conscious (the numbers are increasing all the time) then for now, some of these people ironically cannot forego eating meat precisely BECAUSE they are already vibrating at this elevated level of consciousness and until everyone else catches up they need to find ways to bring themselves back down to earth, to be pulled back down by gravitational force, so that they don’t vibe off the face of the planet, as they’ve got work to do. So the hilarious paradox in all this is that right now it is the people who are already operating at this higher vibration that might in fact NEED to eat meat ALL THE MORE as if we want to be able to be in the world (and to help others to raise their vibration) then we need to find ways to anchor, and ‘ground’ ourselves. Mental, huh?

So should you eat meat or not? I cannot even begin to answer that for you, but all I would say is the mantra is: listen to your own body and NOT your mind. And don’t forget your soul and spirit too.

But here are a few pointers: are you by nature an anxious, speedy, sensitive, nervous person who has a tendency to get whipped up into a frenzy and sometimes feels beside themselves or three-feet in front of themselves or three-feet behind themselves? Have you had any strange spiritual type experiences? Have you ever felt out of your body? (do you have an illness such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome- which is essentially an illness not of the physical body but of the energetic body?) Well then, that might just mean you are vibrating at a pretty damn high frequency and if you are struggling you might be better off following a diet with lower vibrational foods for now.

That is unless your body’s PERFECTLY happy following a vegetarian/vegan diet (in which case you’ve really got it bang on, and you must have UBER self-awareness. Right now it is nigh on impossible for me to rectify my high vibration to a plant based diet at all but I live in hope, and will make transitions if and when my body is ready. My body that is; NOT my mind. Right now I am beginning to try to incorporate full-fat dairy again which will hopefully allow me to ease off on the flesh a bit- wish me luck!)

Or on the other end of the scale do you often feel heavy, sluggish, depressed, listless, like you’re wading through treacle, like this physical existence is all there is? Would you be unlikely to recognise a mystical experience if it came and hit you over the head? Well then maybe you might want to think about eating a diet of higher vibrational foods- becoming a vegetarian or a vegan.

And if you are already vibrating at a higher frequency are you harnessing this to expand your consciousness (and thus that of others and the planet) by meditation or other avenues? And if you are of the latter lower vibration group- are you undertaking consciousness raising activities such as meditation to begin to raise your own vibration so you can become privy to the mystical wonders of the energetic and mystical worlds that lie just outside of our physical bodies? They’re waiting for you.

Ok… I’m aware it’s getting REALLY weird and wacky now, but hey, I said it would.

To finish up I’ll share something another yoga teacher friend of mine said to me a while back: and it was that when people do a lot of work to raise their vibrations there is a risk that they will just ‘zip’ out of their bodies.

My spiritual reason for eating meat is because I am sometimes at risk of that. You know that blissful white light that is commonly talked about by people that have had a near death experience? Well, in my meditation I hang out there every day. It’s just as blissful as they say, btw. And in order to not ‘zip’ out of my body I NEED to undertake many activities to ‘ground’ myself- like hugging trees, standing barefoot on the earth, staying away from the city (for now) and most importantly, eating meat. So I’m going to keep thanking those cows and sheep and hope that as I get my vibration under control I’ll be able to ease off on them a bit, poor dears, as much as they love to be serenaded with little songs, I know it’s nowhere enough to thank them for letting me eat their brothers and sisters. But will I give up the daily white light bliss sessions and lower my vibration? Not a chance, as I know that THIS is where the real spirituality is, and not in our eating habits.

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Last thing: did you know that the Dalai Lama, perhaps the most widely acknowledged enlightened man in the world has to eat meat for health reasons? It was this fact that got me thinking so long and hard on this topic. Think about what this man does- he spreads peace, love and higher consciousness TO THE ENTIRE WORLD. He literally cannot subsist on a diet of air (and the odd kumquat) in a monastery somewhere as it is his MISSION to bring these spiritual teachings out into the wider world. And in order to be IN THE WORLD, he needs to eat meat. He meditates every morning for at least 4 hours and his energy field is SO HUGE that even in an absolutely enormous auditorium his positive energy is so palpable that every single one of the thousands of people there can feel it moving through them.

Ultimately what I believe in my heart of hearts and in the very centre of my soul is that as we expand our consciousness, and the vibration of the planet rises, then eventually we will not NEED to eat meat at all as we will ALL be vibrating at a level of consciousness where it will no longer be necessary. Then the cows and pigs, sheep, ducks, and chickens can roam free (or – if I can just let my intellect chime in for a second- more likely become extinct as without being raised for meat- as in reality they are just as dependent on humanity for their survival as we are on them- these species would perish as they wouldn’t stand a chance living in the wild), but this will not be a bad thing at all because when they cease to exist the realm of matter will be lightened once again, and we will move closer to becoming those vibrating balls of energy and we will, we will…. OK, I think that’s enough crazy for one day. I’m off to eat some protein to calm down.

We Need to Talk About Sex: From a Girl with a Past of Promiscuity & Trauma, a Present of Celibacy, and a Future of Fidelity (& Tantra?!)

Sex. Yep, you heard me, I’m going there. I’m going to talk about it. It has to be done. There are some things that I feel have to be cleared up. I’m doing it. (Deep breath)

Are you…?……….’Doing it’, that is?

Ok, so I better confess straight away that I am not ‘doing it’ and haven’t done anything remotely like ‘it’ for (gulp)… almost a year and a half now. (Yikes! Did I really just admit that publicly…? Yes, yes, I did.)

Now, before I go any further I want to state that I FULLY intend to have sex again, what follows is NOT going to be a nun-like rant extolling the virtues of abstinence, the cessation of desire and the disavowal of the body, far from it. But, I’m not going to lie, there have been points over this dry spell that I have lamented over whether I have somehow accidentally made my own ‘abstinence’ bed, and now I have no choice but to lie in it….ALONE. FOREVER. It has the most severe hospital corners, these sheets are just crying out to be mussed up. At times it has felt, and can feel like, that in my late twenties I have unwittingly ended up taking a vow of spinsterhood and entered a Convent , where I have been duped into donning a less than flattering floor-length habit and forced to relinquish my bodily desires to the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment…. Hail Mary.

Now, this sexually fallow period has been for the most part enforced by my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In many ways I’ve had no choice in the matter. When you suffer from this illness sex really couldn’t be farther from your mind. Feeling turned-on or desirable is completely out of the question and even if you were be up for it, there is no WAY you would have the energy to go through with it, not even if the sexiest man alive was to walk straight into your bedroom. Plus, right now I live with my Mum: far from ideal. But my ‘illness imposed’ sister-of-the-cloth existence has also been decidedly ‘self-imposed’. I definitely also took a vow of celibacy by choice.

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This enforced period ‘off the horse’ has really pushed me to walk all around it, examining this beast from every angle and to delve deeply into exactly what sex means for me and to work out what I want from it (trusting that the day will come when I will actually get to have it again!) I needed to work out exactly where I had been going wrong all these years. So why write about it? I have hummed and hawed about writing on this topic because it’s such a touchy and taboo one, and to do so honestly means to make myself pretty vulnerable and walk into the shadows for a bit, but I decided to forge ahead as I feel that I have honestly learned more about sex in this past year and a half of having none of ‘it’ whatsoever than I did in ten years of having it, and that I have come to some pretty mega insights that I think are really worth sharing. If my laying myself bare between the sheets in this way helps someone else to begin to work through some of their own unprocessed sexual issues, then it is totally worth it. Rest assured I am laying myself bare here, not anyone else that may have shared a bed with me at any point. But I will say that these days I have no shame. And I realise this is in fact a GOOD thing. The shame around sex is actually one of its biggest problems, if not the biggest problem! As is fear. There is no place for fear- not here, not anywhere; it is so damaging. So I hope that my fearlessness in sharing what follows will go some way to help to dispel unnecessary fear for others. The reality is that sex can be a minefield. And we’re all traversing it. So let’s talk about it.

Here’s what I learned… Warning- as with most things, shit’s gonna get DARK before the light breaks through… but if you manage to make it to the end, it’s pretty orgasmic.

Promiscuity

Before I get down to the nitty-gritty it might be a good idea to give you a brief rundown of my romantic history to date. It went something a bit like this:

A few innocent enough high school sweethearts –>First Love. Long-term relationship of a few years (sensitive, funny singer-songwriter) END –> followed by a couple of years of sleeping with more men than your average woman does in a lifetime –> CRASH –> Nervous Breakdown –> Recovery (yay!) –> Long-term relationship for a couple of years (kind-hearted, pure-souled humanitarian Adonis) END –> followed by a year and a half of sleeping with more men than… (Oh wait, do I see a pattern here?!) –> CRASH –> NERVOUS BREAKDOWN –> Recovery (yay!) –> YEAR OF CELIBACY –> New found self-respect (YAY!) –> carefully chosen sexual partners…. (Or so I thought…) –> a year + ‘on-again-off-again’ relationship (much older, tortured abstract painter a.k.a my own personal kryptonite in human form) where I ended up being treated like a football in a demoniacal game of keepy-uppy: kicked about, kneed, and head-butted, never allowed to touch the ground, only to be, in the end, trampled under-foot and BURST.

ball–> CRASH –> Loss of self-respect (boo!); (It is no surprise that in hindsight I can now see that this is when my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome began) –> A couple of short flings with incredible men (inspirational, international, socially engaged artist), (highly attuned, nature loving, documentary photographer/DJ) but as amazing as these men were these romantic endeavours were fruitless and were never going to get off the ground as I was a heartbroken, deeply insecure, sick mess; I was a shell of my former self. Cut to –> –> –> –> –>

COMPLETE

PHYSICAL/MENTAL/EMOTIONAL/SPIRITUAL/FINANCIAL/CAREER/LIFE

BREAKDOWN

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–> Tiniest twinge of attempt to get ‘back on the horse’ (handsome Machiavellian Product Designer a.k.a. great for someone, but not for a ‘half-crazy, anti-consumerist, forest-dwelling hippy-dippy’ like me, although at the time it would be more accurate to name myself something like ‘power hungry, soul-starved, contemporary art curatorial protegee’.)

–> (Who was I kidding, I was WAY TOO ILL FOR ANY OF THIS!)

–> CRASH (acceptance of my illness, yay!)

–> –> –> –> –> –> CELIBACY.

And that was about a year and a half ago, and here we are, up to date! Luckily there have been lots of periods of Recovery (yay!) –> Recovery (yay!) –> Recovery (yay!) since then (Oh, and also, after a LOT of soul-searching, I can now refer to ‘human kryptonite’ as the much more palatable ‘my biggest teacher’)

So…. Promiscuity. The OED says ‘Having or characterised by many transient sexual relationships’. When you look at the definition online the example they give of using it in a sentence is: ‘she’s a wild, promiscuous, good-time girl.’ So, yes, I was definitely what you would call a ‘wild, promiscuous, good-time girl.’ In fact, I remember the first time I ever heard that word being used to describe me. I was fifteen, I was at a high school party. I was drunk, of course, probably on lurid coloured alcopops or Malibu (classy). And I was kissing a boy who was not my boyfriend. (In my defence it was hard to resist: he was older, played guitar and sang, talked to me about Led Zeppelin, Jeff Buckley and Pink Floyd and confessed to having secretly admired me from afar for ages… he even learned ‘Foxy Lady’ for me). Anyway. My brother called my Mum to come and collect us as according to him I was ‘being promiscuous.’ I was of course, but in the end he did go on to be one of my early high school sweethearts.

After I ended my first long-term relationship (I felt I had to see the other side of the coin) that word followed me like a shadow throughout the ‘single’ days of my late teens and early twenties. If you have read my article ‘Confessions of a Hedonist: Dissecting a Decade of Drink, Drugs and Debauchery’ you will know that I liked a drink, and a smoke, and to pop pills, and snort things, and so on. And I was big into clubbing – techno and electro mostly. I was also majorly into boys. I somehow managed to convince myself, in the same way that my friends did at the time, that by being sexually voracious and believing that variety was the spice of life, we were emancipated females. We felt why shouldn’t we have casual sex much in the same way men did? Why is he a ‘ladies man’ and she is ‘the town bicycle’? I don’t necessarily mean one night stands, in fact I haven’t had that many of those – for me it was more short flings that were more or less sexual and rarely turned into anything more. There were always admirers to either lead on or fend off, succumb to or scorn; or failing that, others to pursue. I’m not saying I was predatory, I was not any different from anyone else as far as I can tell. I was, however, an entirely different person during the day to the one I was at night, loaded up on booze and class As. I’m not going to say there weren’t fun times, of course there were, I met and dated some truly wonderful men. I had two loving long term relationships, and there were also nice dates and playful innocence, and moments of real connection with others, but talking about the nice stuff just doesn’t quite fit in with the theme I’m going for here… When I look back I see that sadly for the most part, it was hollow. Is there anything more painful than waking up with someone the morning after the night before where you are facing away from one another at opposite ends of the bed? Many a time if I’m honest I think I just didn’t want to go home to an empty bed to have to ride out the comedown alone. And I really wasn’t the best at being promiscuous and inconspicuous. I had this thing where I could only sleep with people I knew (and being on the clubbing circuit meant that everyone more or less knew everyone) and so I managed to garner myself quite a reputation. My brother, again, hit the nail on the head when he said I was ‘looking for love in all the wrong places.’ And he was so right. I had such little self-respect that I could quite easily give my body away, but my heart (and soul) never got a look in. In fact, to be as ‘promiscuous’ as I was, my heart had to surround itself with impenetrable bullet-proof glass and my soul had to flee my body entirely, as it could not stay present when I was disrespecting both myself and the men I was with to such an extreme level. (Guys, I’m sorry- I really am). I was also a master of sabotaging relationships: my speciality was self-sabotage. Ironically- whenever I actually met a guy I really liked (and this has happened only a few times, both in the long-term and the short-term relationships) what tended to happen was that the sexual connection between us was somehow infuriatingly lacking! It’s like I could have mind-blowing sex with men who only wanted me for my body, but God forbid you wanted me for my mind, or more importantly, for my heart or soul (and of course by that I mean, to respect me) if that was the case then I would literally freeze and sex would be nigh on impossible! What was that about? Has this ever happened you? Unfathomable floundering sexual chemistry with someone you’re really into? If it has, I suggest to you, think twice, delve deeper. Now I realise that men who were in possession of their souls and whose intention it was to respect me (and perhaps given the chance to attempt to love me: body, heart, mind and soul) had no chance. Being with them would stir my heart to open, ever so slightly, and in response to this my soul (more often than not out of my body) would feel safe enough to chance coming back in. But when it came back in it would then have to feel all the pain it had been keeping itself away from when it was out of the body: it would, if it wanted to have an experience of true sexuality, have to face up to the wounds. The wounds were simply too much to face, and so truly loving sex was impossible. Sex with heart and soul would go on being impossible until real healing took place…. And so these relationships never reached the heights I know they were capable of. (It took me YEARS to realise this, when this was happening it was on a completely unconscious level.)

Lesson: You will not be able to let anyone else respect you unless you first of all respect yourself. And if you don’t, no one will.

Trauma

During my period of celibacy I have worked out that, for me personally, there was a very good reason for my inability to sleep with men who wanted to respect me. Don’t worry, I’ve thought long and hard about sharing this…. (Deep breath)… I was raped shortly before my sixteenth birthday. It was how I lost my virginity. The last thing I’ll say about the ‘story’ was that it was in many ways one of those classic tales of ‘young girl drunk at a party so convinces herself that there is no way she could have really known whether she consented or not.’ Why on earth am I sharing this ‘story’ publicly? Because I know just how common it really is; far too many young women have ‘stories’ exactly like this, and I know how many of us are too ashamed to speak up about it. It’s not even so much about speaking up; it’s about admitting it to ourselves in the first place. I didn’t. I kept a lid on it for ten years, TEN YEARS! And when I finally did admit it, it took me several months of intensive therapy before I could even bring myself to use the word ‘rape’ in relation to what happened. I’m a very sensitive person, I can only speak from my own experience and this really affected me deeply on an unconscious level and I NEEDED to process it in order to heal. In many cases, and in mine, it’s not about the perpetrator at all: there are no court cases, or policemen or anything. It’s about YOU. And how it has affected your relationship with yourself, and your relationship to yourself as a sexual being, as a being who is worthy of giving and receiving LOVE. The completely decimating levels of guilt, shame, and feelings of unlovableness, unworthiness and ‘dirtiness’ that events like this cause (the words ‘soiled goods’ spring to mind) can, if repressed, fester and rot in the body until they eventually manifest in some kind of emotional, or even physical illness. I know. I spent 10 years repressing my own story. And it made me sick. Really sick. And even though I didn’t realise it at the time, it affected every single romantic endeavour I ever attempted to embark upon- whether it was a one night thing or a three year committed relationship. More than once it led me to the worst possible men for me; and worse than that it stopped me from letting the good guys in. I thought I was ‘sexually liberated’ as I was able to sleep with lots of men. In fact I was anything but this. It was an illusion. Equating love and sex was impossible for me. I could love, but I couldn’t have sex, I could have sex, but I couldn’t love. Trauma causes this. So can having pretty severe ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’ issues to work through- I had both. It is only since I became ill and really started to question this that I have managed to coax my soul back into my body, with the help of an excellent therapist, and also some crazy new age alternative therapy hokery-pokery along the way. It has not been easy. I’m sharing this as if there are any women (or men) reading this who have had similar experiences and have yet to fully admit it to themselves, then you might just want to think about taking the lid off that and face that shadow. Whether it be the parental issues (I could regress and use a whole host of colourful adjectives and expletives to describe mine, I’m sure they could do exactly the same for me! Bless them, but instead I’ll group them under the same heading as the ball-bursting ex: ‘my biggest teachers’). So whether it is childhood issues, or trauma, of maybe even like me, a double whammy (more common than any of us would like to admit) whatever you do, if you decide to open that can of worms, do it SAFELY. It doesn’t matter if it was last month, last year, or a decade ago. If you haven’t made your peace with it, the likelihood is that it WILL be having its way with you. It is so important that we fully acknowledge anything that has happened to us that has caused us pain and suffering so that we can NAME it, ACCEPT it, OWN it, FORGIVE ourselves and anyone else involved (ultimately for US, not for them, leave them to their own karma) and finally RELEASE it. This applies to everything that has hurt us, not just sexual trauma. By going through this process of self-actualisation, and really committing to honouring the hurt parts of ourselves throughout it, we take back our power, which had up until that point been taken from us. (We realise that we in fact allowed it to be taken from us. We will not let that happen again). Therapy helps, therapy really helps. 

Lesson: If we have suffered trauma then we need to reclaim our own bodies and reclaim our self-respect in order to reclaim our sexuality. This is hard, messy work, but it has to be done. Your body will thank you, your heart will thank you, your soul will thank you. Your next relationship will thank you (although I can’t speak from experience on that one just yet).

And most importantly: There is NOTHING to be ashamed of.

Celibacy

Shortly after I bowed out of my last (non-starter of a) relationship and started to open to night after night of cosy PJs in bed alone, with some or all of the following: book, low playing folk music, journal, hot water bottle, cuddly toy (shhh…) as opposed to anything more steamy, one evening I attended a talk at the local Buddhist Centre. A female order member spoke about her decision to become an ‘Anagarika’ : someone who has renounced most or all worldly possessions, does not own property and lives a life of celibacy. She claimed that she was the happiest she had ever been in her life. As she spoke of her past ‘love addiction’ and disastrous relationships and all the other addictions (booze, drugs, you know, the usual) that eventually had led her to undertaking this vow, I heard a little voice inside me say ‘noooooooooooo!‘ As I listened to her deliver, with warmth, her convincing and sensible reasons for forgoing any future sexual entanglements and the hopelessness, in her eyes, of romantic relationships, I found I was unable to stop myself from totally projecting my situation onto hers. Had I just committed sexual suicide and renounced myself to the life of an Anagarika?! Even the very thought of it made me SO SAD. I went home and cried. I thought: Am I wrong to think that I could fall in love and it could be positive, respectful, beautiful, equal, long-lasting, honest and true? Is that an illusion I should just give up on now? Something I’d JUST began to allow myself to believe in the first place, with my newly mended heart, after a decade of thinking true love was non-existent? But after dialoguing with  myself about it I realised that her truth was not my truth (in actual fact I had spent some of the talk glancing out of the corner of my eye at the cute Buddhist boy sitting across the room from me…) And although I knew I would have to be celibate for a while, my illness demanded it above all else, it was a temporary measure. Phew! Yes. Of course I do want to love everyone equally (as an Anagarika does, no favourites) but I still want to love someone in the special way, including the special naked way. ‘Normal’ Buddhists follow a set of precepts, one of which is ‘abstain from sexual misconduct.’ N.B. ‘Sexual misconduct’ means all the soul-destroying stuff I talk about above, not sex full-stop. I should say though, although I take a lot from Buddhism, I do not call myself a Buddhist. In fact, I take freely what suits me from several belief systems, but I am not devoted to anything and I am in no way a ‘believer’ (apart from, perhaps, in the sense that the Monkees were singing about!) No, I disagree with many things in established religion, often vehemently. I am a spiritualist, and at a push, maybe a bit of a mystic. I am in pursuit of one thing: Truth.

Lesson: A period of celibacy, rather than push you further down the ‘get thee to a nunnery!’ route, might ironically instead, cement the fact you want to open your heart to a full relationship-to love, be loved, be in love, with the right someone, oh, and have lots of sex (more on that in the final section).

Fidelity

I have cheated. I’ve been cheated on. They both hurt like hell. Since becoming celibate I can safely say that I will do my very best never to hurt someone like that again. I respect myself, and by natural extension, I fully respect others. Of course, I can’t control whether or not anyone will ever cheat on me, but as I said earlier- if you respect yourself, other people tend to respect you too; if you don’t, they won’t. I’m all for fidelity. With the right someone. With the right soul.

My period of abstinence has allowed me to see that in order to have a full relationship, where love and sex are both present, the soul needs to inhabit the body. And of course, if you have a broken heart, you need to give it all the time it needs to heal (that deflated football needs to be slowly re-inflated, breath by breath, and taped up with some jazzy brightly coloured tape before it can be played with again, PLAYED WITH in a good way, I mean, not kicked about all over the shop!)

My understanding now is that – You can connect with someone on a sexual level, yes, you do not need your heart to be involved for this to happen. You can connect to someone on heart-based level without needing to connect to them on a sexual level, yes. But ultimately if you want to connect to someone on BOTH the sexual level and the level of the heart: YOU HAVE TO HONOUR YOUR SOUL.

How do you go about doing this? You stop listening to the voice of the Ego. You listen deeper, you get really quiet and you listen, until it begins to speak to you. It will tell you what will really make you happy. You follow it as best you can; it knows where it is taking you. (You might want to read my article on Meditation) And if you need to do any soul work: processing childhood issues or any history of trauma, then that’s gotta be done too.

The idea of honouring our soul and being able to share it with that of another in relationship makes me think of those heart-breaking lines in Bob Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.’ He sings ‘I once loved a woman, a child I am told/I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul/don’t think twice it’s alright.’ Some people we connect with romantically only want us for our bodies, that’s the easiest part of ourselves to give, and that’s how we get dead to ourselves. Some people want us for our bodies and our minds, slightly better, but we can get REALLY hurt this way. Some people want us for our hearts too, now we’re talking, this is a lot harder to give, your heart has to be healed, and open, but it is possible, and beautiful… and if we’re lucky enough some people will want all of the above, and to connect to our SOUL, and this is truly magical: body, mind, heart and soul. But this requires an incredibly high level of awareness and an evolved soul; you’ve got to have your SHIT SORTED!

Being celibate has allowed me to realise something important: These are the only people you want to be considering giving anything to; and this is the kind of person you want to BE, well I want to be anyway.

The question is: is there just one of these people for each of us? Surely there can only be a select few at most? In another song ‘If You See Her, Say Hello’ Dylan sings ‘We had a falling out, like lovers often will/ to think of how she left that night it stills brings me a chill/and though our separation, it pierced me to the heart/ She still lives inside of me, we’ve never been apart.’ I’d hazard a guess that he’s talking about the same girl here: a true soul connection, sadly unrealised. Think twice Dylan, think twice! Or what about the line in Jeff Buckley’s ‘Lover You Should Have Come Over: ‘She’s the tear that hangs inside my soul forever.’ Breaks my heart. Every time. Ultimately, being celibate has allowed me to re-open to the idea of soulmates. An idea I had written off a long time ago after being so disappointed in my futile search for love. I was a cynic for too many years, and during that time my fears were usually confirmed. These days I am a devout idealist, and you know what? The strangest thing- see the positive intentions/hopes and expectations I have? More often than not they tend to manifest exactly as I’d envisaged, or even better than I could have imagined! Wow- who knew?!

So, yes, I believe in soul mates.

Let me get a bit crazy hippy-dippy for a minute… The New-Age definition goes a little something like this: Essentially we are all one soul, but when we began to incarnate in human bodies a series of splits had to take place. First into ‘soul groups’ or ‘soul families’- these are the people you just ‘get’ and they ‘get’ you- your ‘soul sisters’ and your ‘brothers from another mother’. Rarely your actual family, hell no, at least not for the majority of us anyway, bless them, I do love them dearly. Then we have ‘soul mates’, these are the folks from your soul family that you are physically attracted to in a sexual way, no incesty vibes, and you can really really love these guys. You can have several of these, and they all help your soul to evolve and you theirs (break ups always tend to be amicable, in the end). I have been lucky enough to meet a few of these: some realised, some unrealised, some yet to be realised?! We go through these until we are ready for our ‘twin flame’ or ‘twin soul’ (which represents the final act of splitting- the masculine and the feminine – although this could of course be between two women or two men- spirit is fully accepting of LGBTQ) and this person is literally the other half of our soul- one in the universe for each of us, and you have to have a pretty damn evolved soul to even incarnate at the same time as your twin flame, it takes lifetimes and lifetimes to get here. Apparently it’s becoming more and more common. Have I met mine already? Time will tell. Have you met yours?

Lesson: Soul mates exist. Believe what you want of course but the idealist in me wins out over the cynic.

Tantra

As I have said, I am not religious. I am as against dogmatic religion as much as any devout atheist is. I am however a very spiritual person. Another very spiritual person was St. Teresa d’Avila, a Carmelite nun in the 16th Century. But she was far from your run-of-the-mill, sexless, habit sporting sister, oh no, Teresa was a proper mystic, and I like to think if she had a theme song it would be called ‘God is my boyfriend and he’s damn sexy.’ Teresa wrote incredibly controversial books on the ecstatic experiences she had in prayer (that is, only once she had gone through some pretty major tests and trials until she had done all her ‘soul work’- purging and purifying all the the crap we are saddled with: the kind of stuff I talked about earlier). These ecstatic experiences were pretty damn steamy to say the least. She would be in blissed-out full body orgasms for hours, sometimes even days on end. She was known to levitate too, naturally. Her practice of prayer, or meditation, allowed her to be ‘ravished’ by spirit. Now. Think about what an orgasm feels like. Imagine that but throughout your entire body, and imagine being able to achieve this simply by sitting down with your legs crossed and closing your eyes. During my period of celibacy I began to be able to experience this through my meditation practice and by practicing Kundalini yoga. Sure, it takes dedication and work, but you can do it, I did). From the moment I experienced this I KNEW: Sex is sacred, SEX IS SACRED! (funnily enough the words that poured uncontrollably from my mouth were, you guessed it: ‘Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my GOD!’) If there is a ‘higher power’ (believe what you want) then far from calling for prudence, abstinence and sex purely for procreative reasons, the big I AM is a full-on sex addict! With the right someone. The heart and soul HAVE to be involved. Same goes for solo-sex. Totally sanctioned. If there are angels, they’re all at it. I don’t know about you, but this blew my mind. And it opens up a whole new world of sexual possibility in the future. With the right someone.

Tantric sex weaves the physical and the spiritual together, the Sanskrit word literally translates as ‘woven together’. Having had a glimpse of this for myself, in many ways I literally can’t wait until I have the right someone to weave this together with. Makes me excited to ‘get back on the (big orange) horse.’ Time will tell.

Lesson: SEX IS SACRED. 

And at the end of this period of solitary soul searching. What now?

Well as they say True Love waits.

And right now I am very happy to do just that.

Good things come to those who wait, right?

So… here I am, full of heart, and an empty bed, waiting patiently for the right someone. And I have to admit, I’m not quite ready yet myself, I’ve still got some healing to do. (But I’ll tell you this, after all this abstaining, things have finally started to heat up again and I do from time to time catch myself glancing at my proverbial watch…)