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.
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.
am 1 hr
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.
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.
Behold: the Pineapple Mango Digestion Soother:
I held back on the coconut water to create this gloopy agaesque chlorophyl-tastic masterpiece. The green comes from the kale and the only other ingredient but for those in its title is ginger.
Went for a walk along the Itchen from Martyr Worthy, through Easton, and under then back under the M3, in glorious winter sunshine. Here’s the church at Martyr Worthy:
New Year’s Eve’s smoothie was the Peach Cobbler: Peaches, lettuce, ginger, cinnamon, hemp seeds and almond milk. Pretty good, mild in taste and appearance, aided by the party straw:
Today’s was the Digestion Cleanser: Blueberries, pear, lettuce, ginger and coconut water. I used frozen blueberries which weren’t bad at all. Perhaps more of a watery result than fresh ones. Look at this dark, mysterious beauty, quite the contrast to yesterday’s:
A quiet and restful New Year’s Day. What better way to start the year? Slept as long as I needed, meditated an hour, made smoothie breakfast, leisurely drank it over about 45 minutes, listened to music (Ghostface Killah), had a snooze, then stir fry and rice for lunch, watched Graham Norton recorded from last night, got some logs in (my only step outside on this wet and windy day), browsed a bit, another hour’s snooze, then an hour’s yoga, twenty min evening meditation, then posted this. Tomorrow, perhaps surfing. A healthy and wholesome new year to everyone!
Another make my own smoothie day, but I have now been to the ‘super’ market so normal service resumes tomorrow. Today I used: pok choy, banana, orange, a little almond butter, hemp seeds, coconut water, mint and parsley. Just whacked it all in the NutriBullet and as usual it tasted great.
Check out the super frosty morning outside – nice!
It’s like I’m getting a head start on the new year, with over two weeks of breakfast green smoothies under my belt and in my veins and cells and whatnot. And lots of flowing yoga, full breathing, reaching gently, touching all parts. Stronger and looser. And an hour and twenty minutes of meditation every day for months now, even if for the most part lying down, centring and understanding the mind. Come the new year I’ll not lie down but make that initial minimal effort to sit. I actually want to do these things, having finally found practices I like and daring a bit to work through the awkward feelings that can come as things get uncovered in yoga and sitting.
Ah, well, umm, didn’t have the ingredients I needed for today’s smoothie, so am improvising. For a couple of mornings, until I can get to the shop tomorrow evening. So, using up leftovers from previously, I made a pineapple, lettuce, hemp seed and almond butter smoothie, with a little coconut water. My first concoction and a delicious success! Can’t really go wrong I reckon. Here is the pale beauty:
The now-usual clear headedness all morning. The little nut butter kept any hunger at bay.
Back to the yoga this evening after not doing any over Christmas. A great after work work out with the Strala ENERGISE routine. Then twenty minutes of mediation, returning fully to centre, ready for the eve – watching What We Do In The Shadows with some friends.
Lunch was rice and chilli beans and supper was baked potatoes and baked beans. The only sugar-free baked beans I’ve found are the Whole Earth organic. Why is sugar in almost everything shop-bought? I can handle fructose and honey no problem but refined sugar sends me loopy a while, then crashing big time for a day or two, achy muscles and lethargy, pale skin. So I learnt quite a while ago just to ignore anything with refined sugar.