It’s hard to believe I’ve made 60 walking videos! This one is a little different from the usual countryside walks:
A walk from Camden to Hackney Wick along the towpath of the Regents and Hertford Union Canals. The walk goes through or near Kentish Town, Islington, Hoxton, Haggerston, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, before branching off to the north east and Hackney Wick, towards the Olympic Park. A quieter alternative to walking in London by road, this took about three hours.
More London walking videos to follow later this year I expect.
The fifth stage of my Wayfarers Walk route, from the village of Dummer near Basingstoke, to Brown Candover in the heart of Hampshire. The walk goes over Becket’s Down, giving fine views over southern Hampshire.
27 May 2015
Energy coursing upwards once the thoughts get out of the way. I kind of wake up with the sensation I which was aware of through layers of thought, and now it’s a direct connection. Then the energy is freer and as it moves it meets the actuality of the organism, resulting in awareness of bliss, tingles, tensions, constrictions, and great pleasurable feelings from the pelvic floor spreading upwards.
28 May 2015
New cushion much more supportive. Firm yet not hard. This is the one I bought, highly recommended.
It takes me the best part of an hour to move steadily from head to feet. Then at the end there’s a much quicker, looser, smoother journey back to the top of the head, then time to spend a minute or two in the areas of most obvious sensation before the bell rings. I use Zen Friend
to clock the hour. Again, recommended as perhaps the best meditation timer app out there.
Today’s major sensation was behind the eyes and deep in the back of the thighs towards the buttocks. That ancient nervy feeling there, somewhat sciatic. I could easily notice the increasing strength of the body to sit well, from four straight days of yoga, an hour each evening before eating.
Woke naturally with the light just before six and it seems natural to go to the cushion. The fear of doing so seems temporarily or permanently to have dissipated. I relish the connection and validity of this practice.
To be able to use the manic ‘browse internet for hours’ energy that’s scattered into one hundred things, to be able to use that energy to observe the body, and feel the very same energy in the body. Left to its own (conditioned) devices it is shooting up into the head and creating so very many thoughts. With the moving of attention from part to part with a neutral attitude towards sensation and thought, somehow the energy transforms, each part felt as near to its actuality as is possible. And in each area it is seen that the attention is one or more steps removed and in this seeing this removedness can naturally undo. And then there is connection, immediacy, actuality, without modification by the mind, and the sensation felt in the area undergoes a change, no longer what I thought it was but more like what it is. So within the hour spent attending to the body, the manic energy transforms to a more total, directed energy, without any control as such and certainly without any force. Really interesting and valid ‘work’, this.
Goenka Vipassana Meditation is a reset, perhaps even more than a night’s sleep in terms of letting the brain rest. Quite clever really, there’s no mention of thought in this technique of awareness of sensation. Naturally thought realises its place, that it isn’t really needed at the moment. Naturally thought goes through it’s loops, even small dreams. Come out the other side of these and thought is naturally spent. No effort to control thought needed. No criticism of thought (by thought) needed. Just a small effort to actually do it, to sit or lie down and move attention over the body. I like minimal.
An almost-loop at the very western edge of the South Downs National Park. From Magdalen Hill east of Winchester, up towards Cheesefoot Head and then across the downs to Morestead. Then down into Chilcombe through the firing range and finally across the M3 into Winchester via The Soke.
Parts of the body tensing and contorting, either alone or within awareness of that area. Hand – the right hand, go figure – neck sides and front, up under the lower jaw, jowls even involved in this morning’s sit. Sciatic nervy pain down behind the hips. Right foot at the bottom of it all, flexed at times. Despite the strong sensations and eye scrunching, an appreciation of the realness of it all, the genuine feeling of the body exactly as it is, and that the body is being allowed true expression and release, the mind only minimally involved for once in the day. This sit deep in the night, three something to four something, and time for some deep rest now.
Slept until naturally woke around eight. Always such a restful sleep after meditation, because meditation is actual work (without doing anything – yes!) Yoga this evening, lots of leg stretched and hip openers. I’ve been listening to a new yoga nidra recording, one hour twenty minutes long, working on deep restoration of all the sheaths of the organism (physical body, subtle body, psycho-emotional body, wisdom body and the soul body.) I don’t know anything about Maalika Shay Devi Dasi but she has a great voice for this, and the work is at deeper levels than any other yoga nidra or relaxation recording I’ve found. Highly recommended!
Looking into right discipline, right effort, right concentration. It’s easy to fritter away an hour in loose thinking, rather like the dreamy night beforehand. Meditation needs to be something different, with focus but not with any forcing. This is a fine balance.
Today was all about the neck and its holding, tightness, pains and tensions. The poor thing gets the brunt of this life and is holding the heavy head all the live long day.
Alone in silent darkness.
Alone: sat still,
alone without authority,
alone all one.
Silence: but for the night sounds of the building,
the storage heater buzzing as it charges,
the creak groan grind of the freezer,
wind buffeting the window,
an occasional turning of a human in a bed in a nearby room.
Darkness: it being deep in the night
when the early hours become the early morning,
still winter despite our hopes.
I like the winter,
it’s moods and its inwardness.
Darkness: but the lights of the internet,
a glow of a charger.
Only somewhat alone,
only somewhat silent,
only somewhat dark.
I can easily fix two with a mask and earplugs.
The alone part is where it gets really interesting.
Who is watching?
Who is doing?
Who is meditating?
Who is sensing?
Does he think he is different from the thing sensed?
Is he under any influence and so not truly alone?
Is he a he?
Is who a who?
Alone in silent darkness.
It’s clear that the brain can’t do ‘future’ very well. It can do past; it’s riddled with it; but the future is guess work, projections fuelled by pleasure and fear, attraction and aversion. An upcoming event in the mind seems made of a remembrance of a venue or setting, plus old feelings from last time, or many times, stored in the same ‘me in that kind of situation’ box. This is how it does future, and sat still in the quiet morning, its level of validity and potency fades.
Otherwise, during the sitting: strong tensions in various parts of the body, especially the neck. Some contorting, some shaking. A deep feeling of sensation from a position as neutral as possible, of reactions and distractions.
am 1 hr
Still supercharged from the film – Whiplash – last night. During the final twenty minutes I was totally gripped, timelessly into every moment, and then a stimulating discussion following. I was awake until the early hours then woke before six. It seems okay; I feel well and rested, albeit with a charge in my chest. These days I don’t crave more sleep like I once did, okay to be awake if I’m awake.
More and more the meditations are involving the heart as well as the brain, and also it’s less about thought and more about energy and release. I often feel highly connected to something other than what I think of as ‘me’, and the me I do feel is of a more authentic nature.
So, a full on meditation session, head shaking rapidly from time to time, but not lasting long. With the charge not feeling wound up, but very alive within a certain relaxation.
pm 20 mins
The film still with me when I stop and sit. I can’t remember a more raw and real and intense film. Thoughts trundling on but I’m not fighting them. There’s no need to bring violence and control into meditation. Has no place. A tingling over the top of the head developed as the thinking lost its power somewhat. A good way to wind down near the end of the day, having driven back from yoga class in Winchester. I’m happy that I am sitting regularly again.
Excruciating. And yet when directly in contact with the sensation it is different, a pain is no longer a pain but a strange communication, a beacon: ‘over here, something is up’. Mind scattered through the first half, gradually coming together.
Going back to bed a while; it’s now 06:20 at supposedly the most depressing time if the year. I feel like I want to rest for a week, doing next to nothing.
After a resetting relaxation after yoga, a smoother meditation session, a definite unfolding inward, without choosing to go that way, an unfolding through an inner tension of the brain itself, as if awareness is getting closer and closer to the heart of the matter, and almost, seemingly, the centre of consciousness. There, if it is a place, it is black and thought has a great rest. More than black and more than a rest. Deeper, yet not comparable. And it’s a rest yet it is intense. Probably the slight duality remaining, a slight friction. But homely in its unrecognisable cosy intensity.
Every day, sitting up not lying down. Every morning, and a bit in the eve. Otherwise something builds up that needs to undo. Of course, ideally there wouldn’t be any doing up to undo and rules such as ‘every day’ wouldn’t be needed. But there’s London, there’s badminton, there’s Portsmouth, there’s work and there’s obligations, and they all create a winding up and that can and needs to be released.
It’s 04:16 and I just sat for an hour. Layers releasing from holds in the body and at the same time layers of stuff wrapped around the me as the watcher, the doer of scanning, the wanter, sliding away seen and releasing. Release. That’s a good word and even better when it’s actual. Back to bed but wide awake. I need more rest which will come in an hour or so.
Every session different. After yesterday’s gentle lingering on the most prominent sensations, I expected much the same today. But the mind skipped, twisted, danced, skirted, flew and didn’t want to linger anywhere. Awareness of sections of the body, the head, the neck and shoulders, the arms, the chest and upper back, the lower torso, the pelvis, the upper legs and knees, the lower legs and feet. Which all sounds organised and orderly. It wasn’t. Once those general areas were felt, down the body and back up, it was impossible to feel a particular part without skipping about all over it, flitting this way and that. There was no sense of struggle to control this but a strong sense of ‘this is me, this is how the mind is today’. So the emphasis shifted from the body parts to the ‘me’ who was doing the awareness. A strong notion of not stepping over anything to reach something else, some peace, some stillness, but to stay with the fleeting-ness, the skipping, as that’s the actuality, not the beyond. Appreciation of this connectedness, the listening to all sensation AND the bouncing self; appreciation of inclusiveness and inclusion. It can’t be a stepping toward the pleasure over that which is not wanted, but a gentle unflinching embrace of what’s there. This isn’t a doing from the outside; there no longer being a doer, but the me, the sensation, unfolding from itself. In awareness things naturally reveal themselves, including the one being aware, and therein lies the magic.
It’s important to keep starting over, knowing nothing. Initial scanning quite quick, surrounding the body, a few inches out. Noticed it could glide easily everywhere except the lower back and back pelvis where it would get incredibly sticky and would not move. Honed in on various pains: a knot in the neck, one to the left of the spine, the right calf, and sciatic-like nerves below the left buttock towards the end of the hour. All the while noticing my approach to these strong sensations and seeing if it is possible to feel without any cockiness, without any knowing, without optimism or pessimism, to feel so closely that understanding and therefore change is not only possible but perhaps inevitable. This seemed to happen in a few instances, completely focused on one thing, yet somehow feels total at the same time.
Dreams earlier of being slightly mocked by my mother in a kind of lovingly teasing way, leading to a mild shame of myself, while trying to help out with something in the kitchen when very young.
There’s no need to have a conclusion about anything, especially not what’s going to happen to us, to the world. No philosophy, no story.
Today I made Day 30’s and tomorrow I’ll make Day 28th’s – mixing it around mainly because I didn’t want another cucumber and celery combo today. So, today’s was the Liver Detox Smoothie: Cranberries, mango, cucumber, kale, ginger, cinnamon and almond milk. Another good one. I should have gave them star ratings so I can easily see what my favourites were over the days. Well, here it is, with my ailing potted herbs behind:
Alarm went at 0620, too early and I slumbered an hour before getting up for meditation. This was the highlight of my day, even though it was tough. Me and my body and its pains and my learning about my reactions to the pains and sensation, the mind quietening all the while and learning about division, or the reality of division, between me and what I feel. Such a simple and genuine and healing activity. I wish I’d dared do it years ago. Better late than never, as they say. This evening was Iyengar yoga class over near Winchester. Twists standing, lying and seated, with the trademark Iyengar precision and care even whilst working strongly. A cold winter’s day, bright sun, and minus 4C on the drive home. Merino was worn all day, including in class.
Whups. I guess I got bored of photographing and blogging smoothies, so I missed a lot of days here. But I did have a smoothie every morning, and sometimes in the evening too, and I’m still in love with them. So I have reached Day 28! It isn’t the app Day 28 because I went back to a recipe I missed earlier, the Apple Basil Inflammation Buster, no less. Pretty good, although quite summery for the middle of winter, with it’s apple, basil, almond milk, cucumber and celery. Here it is post blend:
Kept me going easily until lunch though, which is now back to its rather late 1330 term time.
Meditation one hour in bed. Not the same but warm! Yoga one hour after work, then twenty minutes sitting. Body and mind feeling good. Feeling like I need quite a lot of rest, and I suspect we try to do too much when thinking we have the same energy in the winter as in the summer. Semi-hibernation would be so sweet…
We are into our annual staff week and so I have had less time to post what smoothies I’ve been having. Yesterday was the Dark Blueberry Booster. Ingredients are: blueberries, blackberries (replaced with frozen summer fruits), kale (replaced with chard), coriander and almond milk (replaced with rice milk). Looking deep and mysterious: I drank it during a clean out of hundreds of Krishnamurti video tapes and the centre library. We kept the English ones to give away in the bookshop and I chucked out four bin bags full of dubbed ones, a format just too out of date now. Everything will be included in a searchable, browsable digital video library instead. Of course, in the meantime we had the DVD and preliminary media players, but the new system is much more user friendly. This is at the Krishnamurti Centre in Hampshire. Today I made the Simple Mango and Greens smoothie: mango (frozen), lettuce, ginger (first time in a while), hemp seeds, coconut water. Very good! Drank it during setting up the sitting room for a video showing, using the centre’s new 50-inch TV. I’ve been so clear-headed during this year’s staff week compared to any of the last decade. The smoothies, sitting, and regular yoga are really working wonders. I’m moving beyond my known realms of health into, for me, uncharted territory. I don’t know where it will lead. We can experiment with these things and others can somewhat guide the way, at least in bodily health, but it’s our own life which changes and there is no blueprint for that. It’s tremendously enlivening. We’ve been dialoguing in the afternoons, discussing ‘freedom is at the beginning not at the end’ which points to the crux of where Krishnamurti differs from nearly all other spiritual disciplines, practices or philosophies. There’s nothing to get. The statement puts one in a beautiful bind: I am not free and freedom is not something to work towards. It means the next action must be in freedom or not at all, more of the same. It was a lively discussion as minds grappled with something you just can’t think about. Today’s dialogue was about the limits of knowledge, where thought has its right place and where it is an impediment. In the mornings we’ve been watching 1970s discussions with staff at the school in Ojai. But I prefer a good public talk where Krishnamurti can unfold the new at his own pace, without the interjections of those guessing and theorising. Good stuff! Probably not a typical staff week. And not a bonding session in sight. Peace
I’m finding that any smoothie including pineapple is going to be sumptuous and scrumptious. Today’s was the Kiwi Pineapple Vitamin C Booster: the obvious, plus celery and parsley and the now obligatory coconut water. Delicious, with a nice parsley and celery kick.
The plant pot teapot in the background of a lot of these smoothie pictures was made by my friend Samuele. He makes one-off pots and pottery and here’s his website.
After a quiet day in the office, a yoga session. I’ve returned for the moment to a favourite sequence of mine, what I call ‘New Zealand Yoga’. It was made a few years ago and used to be a DVD but is now online here. I don’t need to look so I extracted the audio and just play it through my iPhone, and have edited out the intro, starting the practice at 0:03:45:
It has unintentionally hilarious stilted and stiff presentation by Greg & Al, but is very informative for each pose and the sequence is very good. At one point, preparing for locust pose: ‘the guys will have to adjust the placement of their tackle to a position that is comfortable,’ and ‘congratulations, you have reached the relaxation.’ I also don’t find the voices annoying, like I do in so many yoga videos.
After a couple of days of spinach-based improvisations I am back on-piste, having been to the supermarket to get the next five day’s worth of ingredients. Today’s (this evening’s) was the magnificent Berry Supreme:
What’s in it? Berries, rasp and blue. Supposed to be pok choy but they had none, so it has lots of romaine lettuce, some coconut water and some almond butter (supposed to be tahini if I could remember to get).
So, that’s 19 and a few days of smoothies for breakfast and I am still enjoying it. I’m feeling healthier, all in all, more balanced, more stable somehow, and certainly clearer-headed. I haven’t lost any weight but that wasn’t the plan. I shouldn’t as I’m already 5’11” and only 10.5 stone. I’ve been the same weight for about 20 years. Well, I’m quarter of a stone more than a few years ago so that’s good. So weight loss isn’t a thing for me, it’s about nutrition, more of the green stuffs, more food in it’s natural food (although blended to high heaven) and to have a variety of breakfasts instead of the usual cornflakes (Doves sugar-free, honey granola (Dorset cereals) and grapefruit juice (pink), which I was having for more than a year. I’ve sometimes been having one for supper too. For sure I’m going to contnue way beyond the 30 days of the challenge.
Today’s smoothie was the Strawberry Orange Iron Booster. Here’s the pre-blended ingredients, with spinach, hemps seeds and coconut water in addition to the obvious:
In the mix:
The delicious result:
This was definitely one of my favourites. Unlike the other two times, I didn’t substitute strawberries for something else, opting for Moroccan strawberries at £2 for like ten of them. A bit concerning how they didn’t seem to perish in the slightest. We’ll let that slide. Apparently, having vitamin C foods together with foods containing iron, it increases the body’s ability to absorb the mineral.
Today was the last day of my mini-kind-of-retreat since new year’s eve, choosing to start the year alone. I don’t think I realise at the time how deeply I’m working with the meditation and yoga when there’s no one else around to pull me out in between. A bit like when a ten day meditation retreat is on its last day and everyone can talk again, and so we think we’re back to normal, not realising how deeply we’re still working.