Meditation Notes Week Ending 2 May 2015 – New meditation cushion and the best meditation timer app

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.

Meditation Notes Week Ending 25 April 2015 – Using energy in a different way. A deep reset.

21 April

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.

 

22 April

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.

 

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 29

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:

Liver detox smoothie

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.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 28

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:

apple basil inflammation buster smoothie

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…

Peace

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 21 & 22

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: Dark blueberry smoothie 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. Mango & greens smoothie 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

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 20

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.

kiwi pineapple smoothie

 

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.

Peace

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 19

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:

berry supreme smoothie

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.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 18

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:

P1020437

In the mix:

P1020438

The delicious result:

P1020439

 

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.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 17

Behold: the Pineapple Mango Digestion Soother:

day 17

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:

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 15 & 16

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:

Peach and lettuce smoothie

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:

Blueberry and lettuce smoothie

 

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!

 

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 14c

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.

pok choy smoothie

 

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.

This eve’s meditation, after yoga, noticing all attempts at direction or doing, getting subtler and subtler. Then like a gnarly area of tension in the brain and it being gently bundled and carried away someplace, without my doing. Fighting anything does not work, nor resistance. A sense of burning away of the unnecessary very apparent.
Got my new wetsuit. After disappointing results with a zip free Rip Curl I sold it and bought an Xcel Infiniti 5/4 2015:
Xcel Infiniti 2015
It’s a medium tall and fits very well. Looser under the armpits than I’m used to but nothing to worry about. Really soft neoprene, very secure chest zip system, and the lining is something else with its Thermo Dry Celliant technology and infra red print:
Xcel Infiniti 2015 Lining
I can’t wait to try it out! Maybe there’ll be some channel swell over new years, otherwise it’s waiting for a spring trip or perhaps Morocco.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 14b

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:

Pineapple and lettuce smoothie

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.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 14

Such a good one today: the Calcium Booster. It contained: oranges, banana, kale, tahini and almond milk. I didn’t have the last two ingredients, so substituted almond butter and rice milk. Nut butter in a smoothie is a revelation! Highly recommended, especially if you want the full feeling to last a while or need a bit of a calorific boost. It also looked a treat:

Calcium booster kale smoothie

So, I’m two weeks in, going strong. It doesn’t feel like a ‘challenge’ at all and I look forward to breakfast every day. Even in the cold winter, I don’t fancy anything else for breakfast. A reminder that I’m following the challenge from the Young and Raw app, which seems to vary from the one on their website, for some reason. It’s giving me a lot of ideas from when the challenge is over, and I’ll probably settle into a dozen or so of my favourites.

 

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 13

Today’s smoothie was the Strawberry Creamsicle. I’m not sure what a creamsicle is but the ingredients for the smoothie are: strawberries, orange, celery, cucumber, hemp seeds and coconut milk. I didn’t have any strawberries so I used frozen raspberries. I didn’t have any coconut milk so I used (again, vegans look the other way) organic whole milk and a little coconut water. So mine was much changed from what it should be. I didn’t taste the raspberries beforehand but I suspect they were rather weak in flavour, as the smoothie lack punch, kind of watery despite the milk. Well, it was okay, just not great. It looked smashing though: Raspberry smoothie This was at 10am as I’d been up at 0245 to give C a lift to Heathrow. Here’s my facebook status once I got back in around 0600: Up before three, drive into the morning over and around fallen wood, no one on the road until the bread lorries of the motorway. Hovis. Taking the racing line, the road is mine, to the shining airport. A fond, loving farewell after check-in, tears my side, nearly always my side. Then back three hours after leaving, the homes still sleeping and the greengrocer in town setting up for his Saturday as I drift gently back to sleep.

Later I went into Winchester on the bus, having walked into town from Old Alresford. I used my Narrative Clip and here’s a selection. I’m not sure I’m going to keep that gadget long. As for the NutriBullet, for sure I’m keeping it as it’s doing me the world of good. 2015 I intend to spend my money only on those things that allow for wellness.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 12

Behold the Apple Pie Smoothie:

Apple Pie Smoothie

 

It tasted as good as it looks and sounds. Apple, banana, kale, cinnamon, ginger and almond milk. Vegans look away now: I replaced the almond milk with organic whole cows milk. It made a really filling and nutritious breakfast, boosting my levels of acetylcholine and flavonoids.

A bit of a hangover day from the Christmas foods, but the usual familiar sluggish feeling has been kept at arms length by these healthy smoothie breakfasts.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 11

The Christmas Day smoothie was the mighty Kiwi Omega Booster, which consisted of a delicious blend of, yes, kiwi, with spinach, cucumber, coriander (forgot to put it in) and hemp seeds (making the other part of the name). It was very good, may have been even better with the coriander.

Kiwi Omega Booster

So, not so very Christmassy but a very good way to start the day, having been up until 0200 for the midnight mass, and also to cure the headache from my first caffeine a few years, one cup of green tea. Was truly buzzing on that in the church last night. While waiting for the service I meditated for a while. The vibes were pretty good. Interesting to observe the Christian rituals of my youth once again. The best bits were the singing and the sermon, during which distance and division between me and the vicar seemed to vanish and there was a pure listening. The petitioning prayers I think we can all do without. We may go again.

The actinidain in the kiwi will help my body digest protein molecules. Good because I have been having more than usual, given the Christmas fare.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 10

The Tropical Vitamin Booster was great! Pineapple, mango, lettuce, lime. I didn’t need to add any liquid thanks to the juicy fruits and I like my smoothies thick.

Tropical Vitamin Booster Smoothie

I had to take my time drinking it, so rich it was. Usually I take about 45 minutes. Today I took it with me when we went to get a few last minute Christmas things in town, and wandered round The Long Barn shop sipping it through my straw. The small town Christmas feeling was homely and spirits high, and we got a good walk from where we parked. Swedish style, we had our Christmas dinner today, on Christmas eve, and opened a present each, the rest will be British style in the morning. Tonight we’re going to midnight mass at Portchester Castle’s church, near my brother’s.

Merry Christmas everyone! Peace.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 9

Not much to report today but for a super yummy Blackberry Antioxidant Rescue smoothie. This beauty contained blackberries (replaced by mixed summer fruits, frozen), orange, spinach, coriander and ginger. I’ve been having my smoothies quite thick after Day 2’s too-diluted attempt but today I needed to add some water as it got too gooey in the blender and wouldn’t reach down to the blades. A few dashes of coconut water did the trick.

Antioxidant smoothie

Just look at the colour. Just look at it.

After a week and a bit, and with the Strala yoga, my skin seems to look more alive, almost as if I have a tan, and my eyes and teeth whiter. The whites of my eyes that is, white anywhere else in the eyes would just be weird.

Apparently today’s breakfast was rich in anthocyanin and rutin. Way to go!

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 8

Green Pear Fibre Booster. Well, I’m not sure my fibre needed boosting! It was the greenest smoothie yet, with pears, lettuce, parsley and hemp seed. Except I forgot the hemp seed. (Had some in my made-up smoothie tonight instead, same as last night’s.) The GPFB was pretty good. I ‘don’t like’ pears, one of those fruits I’ve pretty much ignored after tasting one when young. (Except in pear drops!) It’s like the parsnip to the potato, the pear to the apple, not as good so what’s the point? That’s how I used to think and there it stuck – noticed how that happens? So I plunged right in. Not bad! A bit gritty like I remember pears to be, but a full, pleasant flavour.

Green pear fibre booster smoothieNotice the straw? It’s my new stainless steel one. Not as nice on the teeth as plastic but I didn’t like throwing one away each day.

So, into the Christmas period we go! I’ll continue with the breakfast smoothies throughout. We need to get our Xmas food in and so have opted for late tomorrow evening. I’m hoping for decent stock and far less people. By all accounts it’s hell out there.

 

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 7

Today’s smoothie was the first one I didn’t really like: peach, rocket, celery, ginger – the so-called Peach Perfect Ginger Delight. Too rockety and celery-y and odd with the peach. But this evening I made one up: spinach, peach, banana, grapefruit juice, cashews and hemp seeds. This one was marvellous. Anyway, here’s this morning’s delight:

Peach Perfect Ginger Delight

Tried the Strala RELAX yoga video for the first time tonight, a mellower variation on the lunges sequence theme. I like the encouragement to keep it soft and to experiment, making a non-rigid practice. During meditation afterwards I was able to include and accept distractive thought loops instead of dismiss them as ‘wrong’ when they finish. This made a big difference. Meditation seems like unlearning a sense of right and wrong, as far as the inner world is concerned.