Five Different Pathways to Enlightenment: Part III: Dreamwork & Psychotherapy – ‘Boat’

boat

Boats sail on the water. We evolved from single-celled organisms that began their existence in water before moving out onto the land. Our blue planet is over two-thirds water. Our oceans are the most fascinating and mysterious places of habitation on Earth, populated by millions of different fishes, aquatic plant life, mammals, and all sorts of unusual forms of life we know next to nothing about, and it all happens deep down underneath the surface. What goes on down there? As with the ocean, so with the unconscious. I have decided that to reach enlightenment by undertaking an intensive therapeutic process such as psychotherapy (often using your dreams as an entry point as in Jungian analysis) is like travelling back to Nirvana, getting back to Source; or reaching the final goal, by boat.

We are 90% unconscious and only 10% conscious. That’s right, all the thinking, processing, weighing-up of things mentally, wishing, hoping, day-dreaming, talking to ourselves, what we think, and then what we decide to say to others (honestly now, how often do we really say what we think?!), not to mention the decisions we make and the actions we undertake in accordance make up only 1/10 of our existence. The other 9/10 is subconscious, or even unconscious.

We are being guided by a deeper force.

Jungian analysis refers to the uncovering of this ‘deeper force’ within us as the process of individuation.

jung

As well as being only 1/10 conscious and 9/10 unconscious we are, despite our biological sex and gender, made up of a balance (or often an imbalance) of BOTH masculine and feminine energies. These are archetypal energies permeate everything in the known universe: we could also use the dualities of yin/yang; soul/spirit or being/doing to describe them. When I think of the positive masculine I think: doing, reliable, strong, forward-motion, provider, stable, inspirational, sun, energetic, electric, uplifting, passionate, focused, intellectual, spirited. But there is no light without shadow, when I think of the negative masculine the words that come to mind are: ego-driven, bull-dozing, forceful, exhausting, burn-out, greed, violence, cruelty, abuse. Yikes, not so nice. For the positive feminine the words that move through me are: being, deep, creative, soft, moon, fertile, fluctuating, wisdom, connection, earth, nature, embodied, nurturing, receptive, sacred, soul. And again, for the shadow: cowering in fear, helpless, overwhelmed, nervous-wreck, breakdown, barren, empty, neglected, starved, dis-honoured, disrespected, madness. Pretty scary stuff. We are in the dying throes of centuries of a patriarchy, eons in fact, where there has been a HUGE collective imbalance of the masculine and feminine energies, and in many senses there still is. It has veered dangerously into the negative, on the individual, collective and planetary levels- our all-pervasive ‘doing’ culture forces us to work-hard, climb that career ladder for material gain, external success and world domination…. and our poor feminine is dying – battered, neglected, silenced, overwhelmed, driven mad. The masculine has been in service to the ego, and not to the soul – and this only leads to: self-destruction; addictions; self-neglect; neglect of others, abuse of others; and the neglect and abuse of our planet, which right now on many levels has come to be in a very real state of peril… The time has come for a resurgence of the values of the sacred feminine, and in its wake, the rise of the sacred masculine. And it is happening. We are, at this point in history, effecting an ENORMOUS shift to redress the balance – (YAY!) We are realising that in order to survive: as individuals, as a species, as a planet – we need to learn to be again, to connect, to listen deeply, to slow down; to return to nature; to nurture ourselves, and others, and our planet; to bring love and compassion back to the very centre of our existence where they belong: masculine and feminine in BALANCE, and the ego in service to the SOUL. In the process of individuation we start by balancing our internal masculine and feminine energies. Our goal is the ‘sacred marriage’ between our own inner masculine and feminine. And the microcosm IS the macrocosm; as within so without, as above so below.

But we have to start where we are. It ain’t easy, that’s for sure. It is a painful process of transformation and self-realisation; it is the journey of the soul to recognise itself, to call itself home, to remember who/what it really is: in other words, to become enlightened. It is the breakdown of the ego (the construct of the separate self) and the recognition of the true nature of reality, and of our identity, as an embodiment of the soul: seemingly separate but never actually so. It is learning to dance with the masculine and feminine energies, constantly shifting, moving, either towards union, alignment (and enlightenment), or (if we are ignoring the needs of the soul), away from it and towards separation, self-destruction and chaos. To be enlightened means to live in a non-reactive, fully awakened state of presence where our thoughts, words, and actions are in complete alignment and we think, speak, act and live in service to the soul, and as such in service to all beings and planet – universe in fact. We say what we mean, we mean what we say, and we are TRUE to ourselves. We live in the NOW. This takes WORK. We need to do the work.  We need to dive into those remaining 9/10 of our existence and figure out who we are: Spirit and soul, with a mind, living in a body. (The 9/10 are ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING by the way, and in this article I intend to share some of my own with you.)

The past is history. This is absolutely true, but we can only put the past firmly where it belongs when we’ve fully made our peace with it. If we haven’t, it could very well be having its way with us, hijacking our life and veering us dangerously off-course, maybe even taking us into some very treacherous waters. The extent to which we are aware of, and in alignment with our soul is the extent to which we have the ability to steer our own ship, rather than have it driven by the demons of our own shadow, whatever they may be. The more familiar we are with our own story: with the wounds we carry; and below that the unchanging, infinite and untouchable nature of our own eternal soul, the more we will gain insight into the twists and turns, ups and downs, and highs and lows of our lives, and be able to live, love and enjoy the present. When we gain entry into the transcendental realms, it is this awareness that will allow us to influence the future course of our lives, and to manifest the life of our dreams.

So what do we need to do to get there?: We’ll we’ve got to learn to swim, and we’ve got to learn how to sail.

shipwreck

We have wounded egos. We have our personal wounds and we have our collective wounds as a species, and we each have our own unique remote control, its buttons pushed by other people/or when certain situations arise: we get triggered; we flare up, we react and get angry; or we retreat into fear and victimhood, we withdraw; or bulldoze- depending on our own unique set of complexes. (If we’re only aware of the 1/10 of ourselves and not delving into the other 9/10 of who we are, our overactive ego-fuelled minds can drive us crazy and we can be walking minefields of triggers and complexes.) We are like the ocean, we all have uncharted depths, and, also like our oceans, we are more often than not in areas polluted by oil spills, littered with plastic, and maybe even with one or two unexplored ship wrecks down there with some trapped souls that desperately need our assistance to escape. We have to learn to sail the oceans safely, and we have to commit to cleaning them up: for ourselves, for others, for the collective. If we are out of alignment, if there is unprocessed stuff in our unconscious, it could very well be calling the shots, damaging us from the inside out and harming others in the process. We need to push our boat out from the harbour into the unknown, and we have to take back the steering wheel from our out of control complexes.

We can’t afford to be afraid of the water, we have to dive right in.

We all have our own boat. When we decide to go out onto the water and start the clean up we can call upon a captain to join our crew. They steer the ship on the water for you, making sure you don’t crash into any icebergs, rocks, or completely run aground (and if it’s unavoidable and you do bash into those rocks, and it’s painful, well they will be there to help clean up the mess, and you.) The captain is -you guessed it- your therapist. They are experienced, they know the waters, and if they’re worth their salt as a captain they’ve traversed the hair-raising territory themselves before, and after coming back alive have gone on to help many others find safe passage over their years. Although they know the waters, they are not in charge, they are just there to help you along on your journey. The diver is the real captain of this ship: you are the diver. The diver is the one who is brave enough to throw himself in and clean up the oil spill, who will remove the plastic from the seabirds’ habitats, and who will dare to go and commune will the drowned souls of the shipwreck.  She has to be fearless and willing to leave the safety of the boat and dive down into the deepest watery depths of the unconscious to find out what’s really going on down there. We all have our own boat, our own territory, and our own shipwrecks: no one else can do it for you. The diver will have to go into the dark, she may have to face off threatening sharks, poisonous jellyfish and piercing stingrays, but if she persists in shining her torch into the darkness of the shipwreck then she will find the buried treasure, and she will return back to the surface, no longer afraid of the ocean.

I hail from a long line of fishermen on both sides of my family and despite this I have always had an irrational fear of the water. I was afraid to swim in open water because I couldn’t see what was down there, I was afraid that something that was living beneath my kicking legs would swoop up and pull me under. When I was a little girl I even feared that snakes were going to slither up through the water pipes from the sea, and jump up and bite my bottom when I was sitting on the toilet! (Absolutely mental, I know, but funnily enough I realised later that this fear, although undoubtedly crazy irrational, was in fact a foreshadowing of the awakening of my Kundalini- see Part I: ‘Train’ of this series of articles for how to become enlightened by awakening your Kundalini- and come to my workshops!). So yes, I had a mother and a father who both descended from families of fishermen, and my father is a former kayak instructor who swims outside in open water every single month of the year without a wetsuit in the freezing temperatures in the North of Scotland, and I was afraid of water.

I wasn’t afraid of water. I was afraid of my own unconscious.

ocean

We are creatures with a shared mythology and collective unconscious. Myths and symbols are deeply embedded within our psyches. Water is strongly symbolic of delving into the unconscious; diving into the mysterious and irrational depths of the – often very traumatised – psyche. Although for many years on the surface I appeared to be successful and like I had my shit together, I had a very traumatised psyche. I paddled as hard as I could but there was no avoiding the fact that I was eventually going to be swept under- I came down with a crippling chronic illness that stopped my life in its tracks and threw me into the cold waves, fighting to stay afloat.

My ship had crashed spectacularly against some rocks and If I was going to survive I had to learn how to swim, and I had to learn to love the water.

When I began my therapeutic process I attended a dream group with a few other people. I was very unwell at this point, rarely out of bed and almost never without a painful migraine. Making the journey to attend was quite an undertaking, but I had been having the most vivid dreams. I was writing them down every morning when I woke up, and was reading every book I could get my hands on by the mother of dream work and Jungian analysis for troubled young women: Marion Woodman (check out her amazing books here). Over and over in dreams I saw over-spilling toilets (I had to sort out my shit) or I was in staggeringly high heels, descending down the steepest staircases (to where I did not know), or mountain-biking down perilously dangerous sloping inclines in complex cave systems right to the centre of the Earth… I was being called down into the basement of my unconscious to sort that shit out, and it was a hell of a precarious journey to get down there. Before the meeting I had gone through my journal, highlighting several dreams I might be able to present, not sure what level of ‘crazy’ I would be comfortable to share.

The dream I decided to share with the group that day was one where I was at a swimming pool. It was a huge building made up of many pools and I was walking around the corridors, opening and closing doors, sticking my head in, trying to find the right one; the one I wanted to swim in. Some of them were filthy, and small, and overcrowded: not for me. Others were too chaotic, too loud, too much jumping and dive-bombing (my brain is remembering the signs they used to have up in swimming pools telling you all the sorts of behaviour that were banned: no diving in the shallow end, no dive-bombing, no shouting, no heavy-petting, heavy-petting, ha ha.) Anyway, I was definitely not in the mood for a pool where there would be even the slightest chance of heavy petting. Marion Woodman in her analysis of the young woman’s journey of individuation: from darkness to light; from unconsciousness to consciousness, writes of there being a natural period of celibacy while she goes on her journey down through the abyss of the unconscious – (for me it turned out to be 2 years). She also writes about how it is exactly those young women who seem to have it all together on the outside, who by society’s ‘negative masculine’ standards are successful high-achievers, but who are bending over backwards in so many areas of their lives, sacrificing themselves for external success, that they have lost touch with their own essence all that is true and are in fact addicted to perfection, and as such are headed for disaster. Their control-freak ego has hi-jacked their existence and they are unconsciously on a mission to self-destruct as they are so out of alignment with their souls. Before I learned how to sail this was where I was at. On the outside I may have looked like a cruise-ship, formal: sleek and well presented, but on the inside I was a cesspit, I was sinking, it was only a matter of time.

In the dream, the pool I finally decided was the one for me was exclusively being used by women, and it was quiet, and although it was not in perfect order; order was in the process of being established (this was the good kind of order, not the bad kind of overly controlling behaviour that had hijacked my life, catapulting me into complete chaos. No, this was a guiding light out of the chaos.) Three women had stepped up to take the responsibility of bringing a system into place in the pool so that everyone there could enjoy their swim. There was an older woman, a young girl, and a young woman in the middle; I was the woman in the middle. The older woman volunteered to take charge: I was more than happy for her to do so. I was aware that somehow she was a role model for me, and although one day I would step into her shoes, I was definitely not ready for that yet, and that for now I could swim safely, knowing that she was monitoring the lanes, to make sure that no one would bump into one another. There was a palpable feeling of fear that if someone was not monitoring the pool it might descend back into chaos, but I felt completely safe under the watchful eye of my older female role model. I got in the water and started to swim. The parameters had been set.

When I shared this dream with the group, the leader whom I’d come to connect with by a series of unexpected and fortunate coincidences (or as Jung would say, divinely orchestrated synchronicities) was to become my therapist – with whom I’ve just completed an incredible journey of 3 years. On that day, upon hearing my dream she pointed out to me to the symbolic importance of water as standing for the unconscious. Traversing down the stairs into the shadowy basement of the unconscious was the same as diving into the murky waters of the darkest depths of the psyche. She said that it was a very promising dream, as the very first dream she had concerning water (when she had begun her own therapeutic journey decades earlier) had been one of almost drowning in a terrifying whirlpool. A few months earlier no doubt I too would have been drowning, I had been held under the water for sometime before I had found the strength to start seeking possible survival routes. Having already embarked upon therapy (I had started seeing another therapist a few months earlier) I was already committed to diving. But this ‘normal’ therapist just wasn’t for me (like the pools I decided were not for me to swim in). I wanted to explore the deepest, most uncharted territory, beyond the personal into the impersonal, and cosmic, and for that I needed a really good captain, one who was really worth their salt – who’d been whale-hunting and had traversed the most challenging waters there are. And there she was, in life, and also in the dream – the older woman who was willing to lay out the lanes so that I could swim safely and uninterrupted. Also within the dream was the awareness that I had already started the work for myself before my first encounter with her- I was already the middle woman and no longer the young girl, (who perhaps would have drowned in the water without a float) I had been initiated to a point already by my own dream-work, research, therapy and commitment up to that point. So this was the very first dream I brought to my therapist.

I went from dipping my toe in the water to diving right in.

One day I brought to my therapist a powerful shamanic journey I had been on (see Part II: Shamanic Journeying for becoming enlightened this way). In the journey I was immediately transported to a bathroom, I was a little girl sitting on the toilet seat (lid closed, no danger of snakes) and my alcoholic grandmother was lying in the bath, a bottle of vodka on the side, and it felt like she was deciding whether or not to drown herself. I remember my mum had once said to me that ‘you know, you can drown in a cup of tea’, something that had somehow simultaneously puzzled, frightened and fascinated me. And in the journey I was sitting on the side of this bath, feeling this sad, suicidal energy of quiet desperation emanating from my grandmother with this ‘you can drown in a cup of tea‘ spinning round and round in my head. I could hear the tap drip, and I could feel the steam of the hot bath. And I could feel that this beautiful, sensitive soul had somehow become so overwhelmed by this world and its cruelties (which she had tried to escape from with vodka, submerging herself deep into the unconsciousness of addiction) and now was numbed out completely, maybe on the edge of slipping into irreversible unconsciousness, to ‘drown in a cup of tea’, in vodka, in the bath…

drowning

Then the scene changed: I was on a beach. I was older now, it was night-time, and windy, and the waves were crashing up against the shore and I was watching a woman with long hair in a patterned dress walk into the sea, it was clear she intended to drown herself. She was, like my grandmother before, at her wits end, overwhelmed, silently desperate and somehow resigned, the world too much for her sensitive soul: she could see no other way out. I didn’t know who this woman was but I knew she was also an ancestor of mine. I could not simply stand on the shore. I could not watch either of these women give in to drowning, and I was certainly NOT going to follow in their footsteps (although I could clearly see the ways in which I could have ended up exactly where they were now had I descended further into my own addictions and self-destruction). I called the woman back from the waves. So startled to find that anyone else was even there (when she thought she was completely alone in the world), she came, and I took her hand. My grandmother appeared on the beach and I took her hand in my other hand, the sky brightened and we danced, all three of us hand in hand, bare-feet, in patterned dresses and with wild hair, all over the beach. The sadness transformed into unencumbered joy and we were running wild, free and ALIVE. Playful and conspiratorial as cheeky children, we spotted the men’s fishing boat, docked in the harbour – always used for work, we rushed to it and bounded onto it with glee and set sail, women alone, out onto the ocean, it was completely exhilarating! We were beyond happy, grinning ear to ear, successfully crossing the open ocean the three of us on the boat, we were ALIVE! As the journey came to an end and we touched down on a nirvanic desert island the words that resounded over and over again in my head: ‘I want to live, I want to live, I want to LIVE!’

desert island

I was going to break that pattern.

Through learning to read the powerful symbolic images my unconscious was bringing up for me to look at I was healing myself.

My commitment to living meant that I had could not avoid diving down to survey the shipwreck that had haunted me for the best part of a decade, but that I had kept firmly below the surface, not knowing that in trying to keep a lid on the chaos of my unconscious, it was demonically controlling me and leading me to all the self-destructive behaviours. I made a promise to my soul to bring them to an end, once and for all. I had a scarring sexual trauma to process, and I had to unpick all the knots I’d tied myself up into over the years in its wake: the addictions, depression and all the neurosis from trying to bury the trauma.

Again, the process I was going through was revealed to me in many dreams, the dream I share with you is just one example. In this dream I had woken up the morning after the night before, I was hungover, I had memory black outs and a hollow emptiness in the pit of my stomach which led me to believe I had got myself into a bad situation the night before, I didn’t know what had happened, but I knew it wasn’t good. (In the years before my illness, before sobriety, before celibacy, before therapy, I had a number of those mornings). In the dream I was having flashbacks to the night before, seeing myself dancing in a club, sometimes with a female friend, but sometimes just me alone with unknown men. I needed to find out what had happened. I set about contacting the friend I thought I was with, fearful that I might find textual evidence or phonecalls in my phone that might bring knowledge to the sense of dischord in my gut, but found nothing. I went through to my flatmates bedroom and asked her if she knew what had happened to me the night before. She’d not been out, she didn’t know. She looked so pure and innocent, reading in her bed. I felt sordid in comparison. She said I could use the photocopier that was in her room to photocopy the flowers that were sitting on top of her chest of drawers and then I could examine them, and maybe they would give me some answers (yes, dreamworld, remember!). I thought this was very kind of her and I set about photocopying the flowers, feeling soothed by the activity, and what the photocopier printed was not flowers at all, but instead, an object (turns out this was a 3D printer!) It was a miniature maypole – wooden, with several thick golden threads coming off it at different points, it looked like the threads were supposed to be smooth and so they could beautifully swing around the maypole as designed and create lovely patterns and displays, but they were all knotted up, there were several knots in each thread. I knew that I needed to work to untangle all the knots, and once I’d untangled all the knots, I would be ok, not just in relation to the night before, but in relation to my traumatised relationship to my own sexuality.

This was a potent dream symbol.

Following the advice of my therapist I made that sculpture from a few wooden sticks and yellow wool. (It was the closest to golden thread I had lying around) and as I made my way through my healing process, facing every aspect of my sexual trauma and everything that transpired in the decade of its repression- I took the skeletons out of the closet one by one, and once I’d accepted each one, forgiven it (for myself and others), danced with it, sent it love and laid it to rest: I released it. Whatever it was; for each thing I untied one knot. I took me a whole year, and the biggest and ugliest knot was saved for last, but I did it. (And all these ‘ugly’ knots – they don’t seem so ugly any more, in fact, the awareness and wisdom that has come to me having gone through these things and now understanding them: they’re flowers, they’re blessings.)

So I did an awful lot of exploring the unconscious 9/10…. but of course it wasn’t all dreams and shamanic journeys – far from it.

When you go through an intensive therapeutic process it is highly, highly likely that you will need to examine your childhood in minute detail – it’s where we are formed in so many ways.  Let’s shift back out to the universal to talk about this. We have to process all the complexes, destructive patterns and triggers we may have picked up throughout our childhoods and adolescence- passed by so many parents unwittingly down through generation after generation, parent to child, society to inhabitant, damaged human to damaged human. No-one is to blame – hurt people hurt people. 

We need to learn to reconnect to our True state of unconditional love. We need to reconnect to the True values of sacred masculinity and sacred femininity that are rightfully ours.

So where do our ideas of masculinity and femininity come from? In large part, for each of us, these come from our parents – the man and woman we have the most contact with while we are forming our identities as human beings on planet Earth. Were your parents able to be healthy examples of what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman? Were their masculine and feminine energies in balance? (Considering our entire planet has been completely out of balance for centuries, eons, it is the absolute norm if they were not!) In therapy, for many of us we have to face up to the fact that we have grown up to have a very skewed understanding of what TRUE masculinity and what TRUE femininity is, and we have to unlearn all the skewed stuff, and start learning again from scratch. This is a painful, but essential process.

When we begin therapy we may think our childhood was ‘normal’, and that we love our parents very much (of course, fundamentally this is, and will always be True). But what is ‘normal?’ and what is ‘love’? It’s unavoidable. If we had issues growing up, in order to heal we have to look at all the ways in which we felt wounded and unloved during our childhoods. I honestly love my parents dearly, and I wish I didn’t need to write this, but I have to say it: There will most likely be a period during therapy where you blame your parents for everything. And it’s okay! In fact it’s a good thing that is moving you closer to love! All the repressed fear, anger, rage, and yes, hatred, has to be allowed to come to the surface. You have to find that damaged inner child and find out what made him retreat, what made him close off to love, what were the traumatising experiences that caused him to shut down?

We all have the same wound (experiences where we were not loved unconditionally), but we all have different triggers.

We need to find out what our own personal triggers are so that we can disarm them. It is only once we have worked through, and brought to consciousness ALL of our own personal complexes and triggers: accepting, forgiving and releasing each one, that we can then begin to stop reacting and start detaching enough to see the bigger picture. WE can then begin to see through the eyes of unconditional love and compassion, and learn to live from this place, we can teach ourselves- and we realise: 

Everyone’s just doing the best they can with the knowledge they have at the time. Our parents loved us as best they could with the awareness they had at the time.

We learn to love unconditionally and have compassion for ourselves, for our inner child with their wounds, with who we are now and who we will be in the future, for our wounded masculine and our wounded feminine who we can now consciously coax back to life and start to consciously work towards embodying the positive aspects instead of the negative, and commit to that dance of bringing them into balance. And we learn to unconditionally love and have compassion for our parents again! (YAY!) REAL love this time. We forgive ourselves, we forgive them, we forgive anyone who might have ever hurt us: (most importantly we realise there is absolutely nothing to forgive in the first place: the soul is pure, infinite and untouched, and THAT is what we are.). We learn to LOVE: our life, everyone, everything, this planet, even in its troubled state. We are healing the wounds not just of ourselves, but of the collective, the planet, same wound, different people; same wound, same healing: LOVE.

When become enlightened: we see beyond the individual – we see the SOUL that we are all a part of – Source. Our parents are just souls traversing the gauntlet of human existence the same as we are, we’re all trying to heal from the same wound, we’re simply all at different levels of bringing the unconscious to consciousness and remembering who we really are. To become enlightened is not simply to learn how to love, but to experience once and for all that love is not simply something we do, give, or act in service to, it is what we ARE. WE ARE LOVE (SOURCE IS LOVE), and so of course it HURTS when we enter into this world and as an innocent child have experiences where we are treated as if we are NOT that, and as if the people we share our lives with are NOT that. It’s SO confusing! The soul in its pure, true state knows ‘I am love, and you are love, why are you not being who you are?! How could you have forgotten?!’ Trauma, triggers, patterns and complexes are born when others are in this deep state of forgetting – that has saturated the planet for centuries, eons, act AGAINST what they are (love) towards us/towards themselves, and then – as we have to learn to navigate this plane of existence –  WE then go on to copy this behaviour and WE act against that which we truly are, in relation to ourselves, and then to others.

Oh what a confusing, damaging cycle! But it’s not the Truth.

In therapy I dived down so deep that I hit the very bottom of the ocean, and in truth, there’s only one thing at the bottom of the ocean: unconditional love.

The microcosm is the macrocosm. The ocean is made up of millions upon millions of individual drops of water, but the drop IS the ocean, the entirety of the ocean is contained in a single drop of water.

Consciousness is love. We ARE love.

In fully dedicating myself to diving down to the very depths of my unconscious to find the hidden treasure, and not only that, but by salvaging the shipwreck from the bottom of the ocean and bringing it up and out onto the land, piece by piece, I re-built my boat, from the inside out, and now it is completely water-tight and fully functioning on the inside, and starting to look pretty sleek on the outside again too- and sails me to Nirvana every day (ok, most days, I am still a work in progress, aren’t we all.)

God bless her and all who sail in her!

I had to take all the time I needed to rebuild my boat so that when I set sail I wasn’t going to sink again. I had a couple of test runs, and when I returned, my captain and I would look over the damage and set about fixing the areas where there were still holes – quite literally we often used my ‘re-building my boat’ as a metaphor for my recovery…

I’ll leave you with this happy ending: Almost 2 years ago now, well into my therapeutic journey, when we had emerged mostly unscathed from the deepest, darkest and most treacherous waters, I attended a 10 day silent Vipassana meditation retreat. I was going back to a centre I’d sat a course at once before – which itself had been a baptism of fire – a deep, wonderful and life-altering initiation which had catalysed the beginning of my entire healing journey. To go back there was quite a test for my boat at that time, a long journey and an intensive process – travel is hard for a boat in mid-construction. On the course I meditated for 10 days straight, 10 hours a day, complete silence of body, speech and mind, and complete segregation of the sexes; and I did some MAJOR WORK. (Keep an eye out for the final part of this series ‘Part V: ‘On Foot’: Meditation’ to read about my journey with Vipassana meditation and how I have come to see meditation as the most effective form of self-induced therapy there is, not to mention my personal fave path to enlightenment!)

Anyway, towards the end of this retreat the most INCREDIBLE thing happened, it affected every single cell of my entire physical-psychic-spiritual-past-present-future being and it is very hard to describe, but if I were to put the experience simply into words it would be: as you know we are all built up from a balance of masculine and feminine energies and collectively, the negative masculine had been dominating the feminine, also negative, for centuries, eons: my internal masculine made a vow to step fully into its positive and sacred masculine – to stay in the body and to honour and protect my feminine and be all he can be – he asked for her hand in marriage – and she accepted – she had already integrated her own positive and sacred aspects and this union was what she had been yearning for – for well, centuries, for eons! in other words my ego and spirit (Divine Masculine) agreed to stay in the body, and to live through it in service to the soul (Divine Feminine): for the first time through this union I had become soul enfleshed; spirit embodied; the Divine incarnate; in Jungian terms I had become individuated. I had enacted the sacred internal marriage of masculine and feminine within my own being. (This was such a huge shift on the level of my entire cellular being that I could barely move for 24 hours as the initial integration took place.) 

But it didn’t end there! Time really speeds up in high-vibrational environments of meditation centres such as this, and in the immediate wake of my own internal feminine and masculine getting married, on the very day the course finished (and when the barriers were taken down between the male and female sides) – as within so without, as above, so below – I met and fell in love with the man who is now my partner, my twin soul: the most incredible example of the Divine Masculine I have ever met and whose capacity for unconditional love amazes me every single day. Or I should say re-met (we’d first met around a year and a half earlier on the train to that same retreat centre when I’d gone for the very first time and had had the most exhilarating conversation – immediate soul to soul connection). But we were both on our own journeys, and had 10 days meditating in silence and segregation to get on with. We didn’t cross paths again, and I had forgotten his name, and all about it… apart from in the year following I began to write a book about the retreat as it was so mind-blowing (see Part V!) and due to our conversation on the train that day he ended up being a character. As I couldn’t remember his name I called him ‘Train Friend’. Around 200 different people pass through that retreat centre every 10 days from all over the world, retreats run all year round, it was incredibly unlikely that our paths would ever cross again – but the universe evidently had other ideas for Train Friend and I… I thought the reason we ended up there together again was so I could tell him about my book and get his details to send him a copy when it was finished (it’s still in process fyi). But after some pretty cosmic and channeled conversation standing at the central divide between the designated male and female areas (segregation!) when the vow of body, speech and mind was lifted sparks flew (thousands of words were flying out of my mouth about sacred relationships and sexuality and I had absolutely no control over them) and the morning we left the centre the universe orchestrated for us to spend the day together as trains back up to Scotland were cancelled due to bad weather. In between incredible soul-to-soul conversations we went so I could buy myself a wedding ring – for my internal marriage to me… as within, so without… watch this space! Was our meeting a co-incidence? No, there are no coincidences in the universe, this was 100% divinely orchestrated synchronicty. As it turned out, in the interim between us first meeting and our union Train Friend had also been deconstructing and rebuilding his own boat, which was now in much better shape to sail. By the time I had left the next morning it was understood that we were already in a committed relationship, and we hadn’t even kissed. And we sailed off in to the sunset…. ha ha ha, but really: When we return to love within ourselves – as within so without, as above so below, the external will shift to match the internal – that is the way the universe works. We will attract towards us the mirror of how much we love ourselves as we are all ONE.

And so we keep on sailing on and on and on and on – Happily ever after.

As we all know, despite what the fairytales tell us: marriage is not the end, it is only the beginning: this balancing of the masculine and feminine energies – within ourselves, and then without in our relationships, and our relationship to the world – is a dance that keeps on going for our entire lives. In every arena of our lives we have to learn to balance our own internal masculine and feminine energies; our ‘doing’ and ‘being’ selves; our interior and exterior; our soul and spirit. As we move further along the road to enlightenment we learn to dance better, we become more nimble, sure-footed, able to fox-trot, tango and salsa, and life becomes more fascinating and joyful and full of synchronicity than we could ever have possibly imagined!

We are individual drops of the same ocean. Get sailing. Dive in. Your soul is calling you; THE soul is calling you. And remember as within so without, so when you heal yourself, you heal everyone and everything; The entire PLANET is dancing this dance. Go on, take that boat back to the island.

ocean light

And look out for the penultimate ‘pathway to enlightenment’ coming next – Part IV: Plane – Drugs and Psychedelics, it will be one hell of a ride!

Love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Read ‘Five Different Pathways to Enlightenment: Part I : ‘Train’ – Kundalini Yoga‘ here

and ‘Five Different Pathways to Enlightenment Part II : ‘Car’ – Shamanic Journeying‘ here

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Five Different Pathways to Enlightenment: Part II: ‘Car’ – Shamanic Journeying

North Coast 500, Scotland press image supplied by North Coast 500  NC50

Sometimes on the weekends I meet up with a group of people (usually who are on average roughly 20 to 30 years older than me) and we lie around on the floor, on yoga mats, under blankets and in sleeping bags with scarves tied round our eyes to block out the daylight and we drift off… No, I’m not talking about some weird adult day-time sleepover, I’m talking about Shamanic Journeying. And shamanic journeying is some POWERFUL stuff, and I’ve decided, could be likened to driving a car towards enlightenment. When you are driving a car, you are in the driver’s seat. You climb in, put your seat-belt on, and decide upon your destination. You turn on the engine and off you go! You will pass through landscapes, things will call out to you and grab your attention, and if you drive with a relaxed determination, you will get to meet who you intend to meet, and arrive at the place you intend to get to. Sure, the car needs petrol, and there are established roads you travel along, but you do the driving, you pick the soundtrack for your journey, you decide which route to take, and the directions you want to follow: it’s all you.

To give you a bit of a clearer picture of my spiritual adult sleepovers that aren’t really sleepovers: when we’re lying around on our mats and under our blankets there will be a shamanic practitioner beating a drum at a very fast rate, they might also maybe shaking a rattle or singing quietly and intuitively… most importantly they will be holding a safe, supportive and authentic space for us so that we can journey well. The specific repetitive tempo of this drumming serves to lure us into a trance state. It works. Big time. No hallucinogens needed here just the sound of a drum beat— you can even create the experience yourself at home by listening to a recording of a drum being played at this tempo on youtube, just cover your eyes with a blindfold of some sort, lie down on the floor in a darkened room, surrender your expectations and be open to whatever wants to arise, and away we go!

When we enter into the trance state we tend to journey with an intention— this could be: ‘I journey to the lowerworld to find my Power Animal’; or ‘I journey to the upperworld to meet my Spirit Guide’. These are allies who we will encounter on our journeys and they will help us along on our path, perhaps by bringing us a message, or showing us what it is that we need to bring awareness to/change at this time to enable us to heal, and evolve. These power animals and spirit guides tend to appear and then stick with us for future journeys; we travel with the same animals again and again; they become like wise friends to us; they have a lot to teach us.

Access to these worlds is gained by entering through an ‘access mundi’; an entry point that helps us to make the shift from every-day reality to the time-out-of-time, space-out-of-space realms of the shamanic world. We do this simply by relaxing, surrendering, and using the power of our imagination. As the drumming starts, we encourage ourselves to be open and receptive, we drop into our hearts and out of our heads, and we switch from seeing with our eyes, to seeing with the intuitive inner-eye, whose guidance is all-seeing, all-knowing and invaluable. If we were journeying to the lowerworld we would visualise going into a cave we are familiar with, or through the base of a hollow tree— something that we can strongly visualise in our mind’s eye— and when we go through that portal we allow ourselves to be transported from there (often down a tunnel of some sort) until we receive faint, or sometimes very strong impressions that reveal to us the setting where our journey is going to take place. Let your intuition guide you.

Smoo cave

I sometimes imagine going through Smoo Cave at the very top of the West Coast in Scotland, or I climb underneath the roots of an uprooted Scot’s Pine that is near to where I live, and where I sometimes go to have little naps…. Then we begin the journey. If we allow ourselves to be in the heart, to not think about it, and just surrender to it, the impressions that wish to arise will arise, and we will be guided on a journey of sights— and maybe even smells, sounds and sensations. Again, let your intuition guide you— do not impose from without, allow from within. After a period of time we are guided back out of the trance state by the shamanic practitioner who changes the tempo of the drum beat, which brings us back into our bodies, holding onto whatever images and messages we have brought back with us, which we can then share with the group.

I have been taken to tropical rainforests with shamans and indigenous people; I have been taken into the lap of the Divine Mother; I have been taken out into the farthest reaches of the cosmos, the world just a tiny blue-green speck below us; I have been taken to places I know well; I have been taken to places I have never and may never visit in this lifetime; I have travelled many times on horseback (one of my main power animals); through forests; across the desert; alone; with people known or unknown to me; with a host of different guides and animals. I have heard the sound of entrancing music being played on a pipe; I have felt myself to be completely immersed in water. And these are just a few representative images. POWERFUL stuff indeed.

And we see what we need to see. We are shown what we need to be shown

To give you an idea: on a recent shamanic escapade when I was journeying to the lowerworld I entered through my cave and emerged upon some great big plains: I was running with wolves. I was part of the pack and we were running fast, wild and free.

When I came to after this journey I was elated. This had a deep meaning for me – It showed me just how far I had come on my healing journey.

The wolf has been a strong power animal for me since I first started getting into this stuff— for me it stands for my masculine side and when I first started to see the wolf he was rabid and attacking anything in sight! All animals represent certain inner aspects and issues that might be present in us. If we find ourselves connecting to an animal there are many resources to help us read up on any animals we encounter (here are a couple of books and website or two) equally, if not more important, are the associations that this animal brings up for us personally. Archetypally, the wolf is very representative of the ‘addict’ for example, something which resonated strongly with me at the time— I had long been battling addictions to: alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, sex, work, sugar, exercise…. you name it. The very first time I saw the wolf I was truly shocked as I had NEVER had any animal visualisations before in my life. It was in fact not during a shamanic journey at all, but during a healing treatment I had in a hospital (of all places) and yet, as this Bowen technique practitioner started pressing different points on my prone body I had a flash image of the face of a wolf in my mind’s eye. At first I shook it off, thinking I was somehow just making it up, but seconds later it came again, unmistakable, and this time much more powerfully (you can read more fully about it here if you want to). I could not ignore it. I was right in my face. I hesitantly accepted the journey— almost immediately it expanded to a scene where I saw this wolf having a stand-off against a big bear on an icy mountain top, ready to attack.

Wolf and Bear

It was petrifying. I found myself paralysed in fear and sobbed into the treatment couch as I shared in a few words what I’d seen with my therapist at his request (by the way this was a very progressive hospital, in case you’re wondering). He did not comment but continued to work on me over the next hour or so, giving space to the images as they formed, and privacy to me as they unfolded, ushering me through this journey where I might receive the wisdom that might help me.

A Shaman. This is what shaman’s do. I have been lucky enough to have been guided through processes like this by several since that first unexpected encounter. A Shaman helped me break-open my heart so that I could heal it and learn to love. A Shaman helped me learn how I needed to break-free of the limitations of my ancestral lineage and live a full life to honour them and do what they were never able to do themselves. A Shaman brought me back from a terrifying near death experience.

POWERFUL stuff I tell you. (But I’m not going to go into all my secrets here, you’ll have to read my books one day…)

For now, let’s get back to following the visualisation. The wolf was about to attack the bear. But then a second image formed— the landscape had thawed, it was summer, and beautiful, and a waterfall cascaded down the mountain. Ahhhhhh, so peaceful.

wallup.net

Then came a close-up of the bear’s face— friendly and curious. She was perfectly content picking berries. She didn’t want to fight at all; she just wanted to left alone to potter about. I relaxed completely. I have since discovered that the bear, for me, represents my feminine side.

happy bear

So basically my masculine side was completely over-powering my feminine side, and she was dying. If I wasn’t careful my masculine side was going to kill my feminine side. I was VERY sick and I was at this hospital trying everything they could think of to try and figure out what was ailing me. I learned from this encounter that my addicted masculine was OUT OF CONTROL and I had to do something about. All the poor bear wanted to do was to chill out and pick berries!

So what did I do? I swapped my fast-paced, stimulation filled city lifestyle for a snail’s pace natural lifestyle in the country. I severed the addictions, dozed lots and nurtured my feminine side in every way I could possibly think of, pretty much going into hibernation for a good year or two. I even pottered about having a lovely peaceful time picking berries: it worked. And once I’d fully healed the bear, I got to work on healing the wolf. And how did I know I was healed? Well, in the shamanic journey I introduced with the wolves running on the plain I was no longer an isolated, mangy, wounded wolf, who would attack anything in sight, I was now a strong and resilient wolf, and I would only ever kill when absolutely necessary to feed my wolf family. In fact, the visualisation ended with my being in the wolves’ sleeping den and the wolf babies were clambering about and being licked and cuddled by mummy and daddy wolf. It was so peaceful and loving. And as for the bear, just a week later I had another shamanic journey where I was taken by her to her den where she was also nursing her beautiful little cubs and I just lay about with them then in this love-filled bliss den (we stopped to pick some berries on the way of course). So my masculine is happy, my feminine is happy… they’re healthy, strong, connected, and pro-creating— man alive, it’s been one hell of a journey to get here! These shamanic images have been absolutely instrumental to my healing journey and I am eternally grateful for their wisdom.

And what about the upperworld, quickly? When we journey to the upperworld we go up through the clouds and into the sky. Some people go up on a rainbow— I climb up that same Scot’s Pine tree and find I can fly at the top and off I go into the stratosphere. The first time I did this, it was with the intention of meeting my Spirit Guide. I was greeted at the top of the tree by a beautiful hippy woman in her 60s. Youthful and sprightly, long grey hair and wise eyes (exactly how I hope to look in a few decades, and pretty close to my lovely local shamanic practitioner in fact!) she gave me a simple strapped ethnic patterned dress and long necklace to put on, like hers, and commanded that I ‘DANCE!’ and the two of us danced like maniacs to the sound of the beating drum up there in the clouds. It was completely exhilarating.

hippy women dancing

I came to in tears as I realised that I was finally at the point of recovery in my illness that it was time to start DANCING again. I started the very next day and have been dancing around the living room like a mad thing (often starkers) ever since whenever the mood takes me. It brings me joy like nothing else. (Just this morning I put on some upbeat world music and danced in my pants outside under the trees on this deck that my friend has made from old tyres and pallets… I’m house-sitting for her up on the West Coast of Scotland right now, it’s idyllic… I’m writing this in the caravan she has perched outside the front door – I started writing this in July fyi).

We see what we need to see. We are shown what we need to be shown.

Whatever we see will somehow be connected to what is going on for us, whether it’s an issue in the present we need to see more clearly, or if it’s an old wound that needs healing, even an ancestral wound, or a wound from our past lives. We may have to unpick the images and decode the messages and work out exactly what is being channelled to us— use the resources, look up what the animals you are encountering archetypally represent and lay it over your life— what could this be communicating to you? Find some illuminating guidance? Thought so. And let’s share this stuff with one another— those of us who have found our reconnection to Source in this way can help others to re-find their connection by being open and generous with our experiences. Sure- we need to protect our processes as we work through them as to discuss our intimate processes with others when we are still vulnerable and not quite ready can affect the effectiveness of our distillation of our truth- unless perhaps it is with very trusted friends, a therapist, or guide or some sort who can witness. But when we get through it, when we’re out the other side, by sharing what we encountered, we inspire others to go on their own journey, this is an act of service.

And if Shamanism teaches us one thing above all else it is that EVERYTHING is connected— it’s not just the animals that you encounter on a shamanic journey that are trying to communicate to you. What about the unusual animal encounters we sometimes have in our day to day lives? Crows nesting in your chimney? Look it up! Lady bird infestation? Look it up! I had an amazing one a few months ago— I was sitting eating my dinner in the farmhouse I was living in in Oxfordshire and I saw something dart across the room out of the corner of my eye. Mouse! I thought, but it wasn’t moving like a mouse. I looked closer— a toad, hopping across the kitchen floor, in December!

toad

I scooped him up and took him outside, thinking that although I’d never encountered this in Scotland, this must just be par for the course in Oxfordshire: when I told the farmer he’d never seen the like of it before in his life! At the time I was pouring all my energy into trying to clean up a very run-down, dirty and cluttered old farmhouse down the road we were to move into. I looked up the shamanic meaning of frog/toad and guess what I found: that it is representative of water, and specifically with cleansing, clearing out old negative and toxic energies and making way for the new – there is even a thing called ‘frog medicine’ which is applied to people who are particularly good at cleaning up the energy of spaces, on the physical and spiritual levels. I was rocking the frog medicine at that point, that’s for sure!

Often I’m just going about my business and I get a FLASH of an animal in my head – recently for example – octopus, or brightly coloured parrot – and I am sure to look it up – often simply by googling ‘<insert animal here> shamanic meaning’ – ALWAYS relevant to whatever is going on for me at that time and indicative or what I need to be aware of.

One last story, this one is also simply too good not to share— A couple of summers ago I attended a workshop sitting in the forest at a lovely conscious festival where we discussed how animals communicate with us. The workshop leader shared how once when she was gardening and turning over a patch of soil some mice were trying to get her attention, running around and around her legs as she knelt on the earth, desperately trying to alert her to the fact that she was almost about to unwittingly remove, and potentially harm, a nest full of mouse babies! During this beautifully gentle and authentic workshop I encountered others who suffered with addictions and were seeing visualisations of a wolf which once again validated my wolf experiences for me. We pulled cards at the end and I got butterfly. I was moved to tears as I shared my deep connection to this animal with the group as throughout my entire illness I held strongly to the totem animal of the butterfly as this journey for me has been for me like a transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, spending as much time as necessary healing in the chrysalis, until I was ready to fly – and being at a beautiful conscious festival, camping, attending workshops and leading my very first Kundalini Yoga workshop and re-picking up my playful movement in nature workshops helped me to realise that I really had begun to flap my butterfly wings! But that’s not even what I wanted to tell you! The amazing and hilarious thing that sticks with me most from this workshop was when we closed the session— we were sitting in a circle in this beautiful clearing in the woods, holding hands. The workshop leader spoke stating our respect and gratitude for our animal brethren and sisterhood, honouring all they have to teach us, and the little dog that one of the participants had with them nudged at our hands until he JOINED IN THE CIRCLE ON HIS HIND LEGS, holding two human hands on either side with his paws! HA HA! We all didn’t know whether to laugh, or cry, it felt like this complete understanding, and shared awareness— four-leggeds and two-leggeds joining together as one! It was just incredible!

Shamanism is such a wonderful path to enlightenment as it is so rooted in the natural world, it reveals the secrets of the universe to us, but it keeps us grounded and connected to all living things. On the deepest level, the insights we receive through shamanic work come to show us that we ARE the animals and they are us, we ARE the world and the world IS us. We are ONE. There is no separation.

What we do to another we do unto ourselves. What we do to the planet we do unto ourselves.

There is a beautiful shamanic song I like to sing when walking through nature which goes simply: ‘I am the trees; I am the birds; I am the water and the earth, I am the fire and the wind; I am, I am.’ This knowledge of ‘all that is’ will be revealed to us if we just slow down, be still and allow ourselves to open the hearts-space and receive it— both with our inner-eye when we journey, and with our outer eyes as we traverse this beautiful planet we call home. We can use the messages we receive to help us heal ourselves, and others, and our Mother Earth.

We have a LOT of healing to do.

stream

Enlightenment brings peace, and clarity, awareness and grace. But it brings reality, and Truth, which is often hard to stomach. Our Earth has suffered as we have neglected and abused her to the point that unless we wake up on a GRAND scale, it may be too late for many of the creatures living on Earth’s shores, including us. We have to try to re-dress the balance. The world is about one thing BALANCE – and in order for harmony to be reached humans, plants and animals need to live in perfect balance, respecting all life, knowing that there is no separation between any life on our planet. She will save herself, she will do whatever she needs to do to overhaul when the point of imbalance is simply too far to redress in its current state. So the question is: what about humanity? I know that the only way to regain balance is for humanity to learn to fully respect all other lifeforms, (including ALL of humanity) and the planet we call home in the process, no more one-upmanship, we have caused enough imbalance as it is by forgetting who we are. Who are we? This is another thing that enlightenment brings: we are eternal beings of cosmic light and consciousness inhabiting physical form, we are of the stars as much as we are of the earth and there is no death- death is only one part of a never-ending cycle of birth – death – infinity – rebirth. There is no end. There is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. We are consciousness, not matter. But this material planet is breathtakingly BEAUTIFUL. In her natural state of growth and abundance there is nowhere like Earth. Can we cut the crap, wake up and sashay down the path to enlightenment and all dedicate our lives to serving her already? Remember we’re cosmic energy temporarily inhabiting material form. No matter what happens, it’s all going to be ok, ok?

epic sky and glacier

So get in that car, set the destination on the sat nav: enlightenment, and off you go— choose the roads you drive down. Decide where and when you want to stop, go off the map. Have your own personal experience that has not been guided by any specific teachings (like on the train); the only teacher here is Mother Nature, in all her glory, and beyond that cosmic consciousness. Also, importantly you have not used any substances to get you there (see ‘plane’ for these kinds of journeys!) Nope, it’s just a drum beat, like the music you choose to put on in the car, and you’re off! Use the roadmap- the resources, but be sure to make your own connections and have your own insights as to what this trip means for you. There may be a map- in the sense of the meanings that lie behind the animals, but the map is not the territory. Hit the road!

Love Xxxxxx

Who knew you could have such an awesome time lying down with your eyes closed, that is apart from sleeping?! (Dreams are a whole other ballgame…)

Look out for the next installment of ‘Five Different Pathways to Enlightment Part III: Dreamwork and Psychotherapy – ‘Boat’.’ where I delve into the crazy journey of this path down through the unconscious and back up again.

Click here to read ‘5 Different Pathways to Enlightenment Part I: Kundalini Yoga – ‘Train’

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.

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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6-under-the-bridge

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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7-emma

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