Wednesday 30 November 2011

Here's the thing...

“The labyrinth is thoroughly known.  We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the centre of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.”
Joseph Campbell

So, where were we? Where was I?  Ah yes. I was telling you what happened a year ago when I went plunging into the labyrinth.  About those neat precise steps I took that changed my life.  You know, the not eating so much thing. The not drinking alcohol thing.  The exercising thing. The meditation thing. The breathing thing.  All pretty average really.  Pick up any self-help or spiritual development book and it will tell you more or less the same stuff, tell you to do more or less the same things. Thing. Isn’t that a wonderful word?

It comes from the Old English, þing. No, no, not 'ping' – the symbol at the front is a ‘thorn’ pronounced ‘th’ (a soft th). You find the same word in Old Norse and proto-Germanic. Originally it meant a meeting or assembly but later on came to mean a being, an entity or a matter (in other words the thing that was discussed at the thing). Even more interestingly, thorn was originally a rune (there are several which were incorporated into Old English).

There are many various readings of Thorn in a runespread but, amongst other things ;) it can mean a gateway, a place where one becomes ready to contact the numinous, the Divine. A place where you are confronted with the true reflection of what is hidden inside.  In one of my rune books it says:

'Visualise yourself standing before a gateway on a hilltop. Your entire life lies out behind you and below. Before you step through, pause and review the past: the learning and the joys, the victories and the sorrows - everything it took to bring you here. Observe it all, bless it all, and release it all. For in letting go of the past, you reclaim your power.
Step through the gateway now.'

(Wow. What a thing! Never underestimate a word, a letter, eh?)

Anyhow.  Let’s pull back a bit here.  Firstly, you’re assuming this change thing was/is a good thing, right? And yes, as far as I’m concerned, it was, it is, hopefully it will be.  But a lot of people, looking in, from other perspectives, would say it was a bloody disaster.  *grin*  It depends what you want, I suppose.  Jung said that the ‘job’ of the first half of one’s life is to find one’s way in the world and the work of the second half is to find meaning; to find oneself, to ‘individuate’ as he put it.  Trouble is, if you’re like me, you’ve spent a whole lifetime putting up barriers to who you are.  I had so many people, so many personae, so many entity-things rattling round inside my head, it wasn’t so much an orchestra as a horrible cacophony of sound – a string quartet playing music wars with a brace of death metal bands, Brian Eno, The Pogues, Hildegard of Bingen and, um, Donovan.

We find ways of moulding ourselves to the world, to fit in, to belong to our various tribes. We validate ourselves with our positions in life; our friends; our work; our status; our 'brand'; our houses; our cars; our holidays; our hobbies.  Some people get it right. They are congruent. Everything fits, more or less neatly. They know who they are and what they’re about. There aren’t too many contradictions; too many paradoxes.

But for me it never really fitted. I love/d spiritual stuff but I hate/d New Age waffle. I love/d nature and ecology and felt hugely strongly (still do) that the environment is THE biggest issue we have (truly, how can it not be?)  – yet I wince/d at the worthy hemp bag/ranty leftwing political stuff.  I love/d writing and reading but didn’t/don't wanna talk about it all the time; didn’t/don't wanna discuss the nuts and bolts, didn’t/don't want to dissect it.  And so on and so forth.  

You know how some people have their ‘thing’? (btw, dontcha just love the way language evolves??) I envied that. I wanted a ‘thing’. So so desperately.  If I had a thing, I thought, everything would be so clear, so simple. Because once you know what you want you can go after that thing single-mindedly, single-heartedly – and with the right prevailing wind, you can get it.  Yeah, pretty much any thing. 

But if you don’t…

Anyhow, there I was, not a clue in the world, wanting a thing but neck deep in muck.  And I stumbled into the labyrinth.  And, as I said in a few posts last year, it really wasn’t a neat walking down an ordered flight of stairs. It was more of a headlong (I typed headless there and really that’s right) stumble, trip and tumble down a rabbit hole.

Did I follow those precise step things I mentioned? Did I hell!  I just went mad, pretty much.  Something or other in my psyche responded to a trigger. What?  I have no idea.  The scrolls to the Labyrinth were burned. I can’t pinpoint the exact thing that prodded me in the back and pushed me down the hole. Oh, okay, the trigger that made me jump.
I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping. I shook all the time. My mind exploded into a thousand fragments and came back with a totally different formation; then exploded again and again and again.  
I scribbled occasional notes in my diary…like this…

12 December
‘I can’t sleep again.  This time, though, it’s different.  I fall into bed at about 1am and crash, only to wake up at 2.30am with my brain fizzing.  It’s like my body and mind are recalibrating themselves.  I can’t eat either:  just don’t feel like it.  All in all, I really do think I’m going ever so slightly crazy.
And I’m plunging down astral pathways, frantically searching.  It’s a multi-dimensional maze, a crazy labyrinth.  It’s like life’s been on hold for years and now I’m suddenly waking up. 
I know that sounds crazy; it probably is crazy.  It’s scary as hell but it feels horribly right.  Even the not sleeping bit.  I’m writing this at 4.30am.  I’ve been awake for two hours.  I’ve read a book already and my eyes are red sore.  I’m shaking, as if all my cells were being rearranged, being put back into the right order. 
Weirdly, it feels good.’

So. Was that a good thing? Is that a good thing? Is that something you’d want to do?  Is that something anyone should do?  Even if it meant you lost four stone? *wink*  

Have you *got* this thing yet? 

By the way (buy the way!) I would hasten to add that this whole bonkers tumbling thing is all my own.  It’s not remotely what my quasi/pseudo/anti-guru recommended. I hold nobody responsible. Nobody. J  Only my self.  My thing. 

Monday 28 November 2011

Frankie Sachs

I’m gonna hand over to Frankie Sachs today.  Cos Frankie has the words I don’t have…
I met her on Authonomy.  A couple of things she wrote just melted me.  And then we got talking on Twitter.  She’s got that combination of traits I find so deeply alluring – intelligence, passion, humour, honesty, courage. She often says what I’m thinking – but says it without the waffle and the crap.  Anyhow.  If you love visceral gritty gutsy writing read her stuff here and here.  But, be warned, she don’t hold back. If you blanch at blood; if you’re squeamish about sex; if swearing makes you sweat – just don’t go there. Okay?

From The Amazing Frankie (wolverine poet)

"28 November 2011
There’s whole a lot of meta tumbled down the rabbit-hole of my consciousness lately. It’s a churning mass of sticky, swollen thoughts, and I feel like, if only I can separate them, I’ll be able to see how they all relate. My gut says they do relate.
How the reader as much as the writer imbues written words with their meaning, and what responsibility the writer and reader each bear in shaping that meaning; how we judge and relate to people/events/ideas based on tiny scraps of incomplete information; the pressure to shut up and suck up and fluff up versus honesty; popularity versus integrity; how reality is an individual experience of subjective perception and how much of it we just fucking make up.
Self-perception, perception of other, self-perception of other’s perception of self and its effect on self-perception. What am I saying, and what are you reading? And do I mean what you think I mean? And if I don’t, which meaning is right?
Is there a right?
God, there are so many mirrors in here and I am trying to find my way out and I think there’s a scary clown in here too. I think it’s me.
Do you like me, do you really like me?
Does it fucking matter? (Should it?)

Ghosts in the Machines

In the future (maybe)
they'll cull the DNA of a personality
from shards trapped in ether.

          Facebook and MySpace
          snapshots of defunct message boards
          abandoned blogs
          the Twitter archives of the Library of Congress.

Our Jurassic mosquitoes in digital amber.

After electron regenesis
will we remember 
the things we didn't say?

November 15 2011
Catching the reflection of myself in someone else’s mental image and realizing that the Frankie they see is not the person I feel inside my skin shakes me. It surprises the hell out of me that anyone notices me enough to form an opinion. I’m just one little monkey with a typewriter, after all.

Someone out there believes I see the world in black and white. The Frankie that lives in my head doesn’t see black and white. Not even shades of gray. In my head the world is a peyote rainbow and I feel every goddamn coruscating band like a sandstorm.

How does Frankie of the Rainbows become someone else’s Frankie the Absolutist? Fucked if I know. But I can imagine.

And I imagine it’s because I try very fucking hard to write with passion and conviction. Always. I try very fucking hard to live with passion and conviction too. It’s not so easy these days. I’m soul weary and it goes all the way to the bone and I wonder how much more caring I can do. I used to be such a fighter.
That girl, she never backed down from anything. She never lost a fight because she believed with all her heart that to win, you just have to fight harder. Which is true.
Except when it isn’t.
The world wasn’t black and white then, either. That girl, she had a trick. If you talk the talk and you walk the walk, nobody knows you’re scared as fuck on the inside. Sometimes you can even fool yourself. Even when you’re almost undone, you’ve gotta keep on walking and talking to keep the wolves away. The alternative is unthinkable.
Maybe someone believing Frankie on the Page is the totality of Frankie the Person is not the worst thing that could happen; maybe it means what’s on the page keeps the wolves away."

Thanks, Frankie.  Jane xxx

No dogs on strings, no swords, no cloaks, no staffs of power

Yeah, I felt like that...

Now where was I? Please excuse my discombobulation but I spent the weekend with my friend Kate and consequently I have had about two hours’ sleep, no longer have any vocal chords and my atoms really do feel as if they have been rearranged back to front.  

We went to Glastonbury.  Really I could stop right there and you’d get the picture but, actually, you wouldn’t because Glastonbury wasn’t quite as Glastonbury as it normally is.  We both agreed it was odd that we saw
  • No dogs on strings
  • No men in cloaks (with or without optional swords or staffs)
  • No women in cheap velvet medieval barmaid dresses
  • No people of any gender giving you those penetrating ‘I’m a magician; no really, I am!’ stares

Yeah, he looked like that (only older and fatter)
We were looking for a healer of some sort (preferably the chiropractic sort really) as some tosspot had arsended her car and left her with whiplash.  The first place we tried said CLOSED (even though the guy was sitting staring blankly at us through the window). The second place we tried offered us Tracey. Tracey had pin-in rainbow-coloured dreadlocks and apparently practiced Tibetan head massage so there were a whole bunch of damn good reasons right there why we backed away. Then we walked up some stairs and found this hobbit. Seriously. And so I left Kate with the hobbit for an hour and a half and floated round lusting after sky high bright red platform boots and buying out of print books with hilarious covers and flying incense.

And the hobbit fixed Kate.  Which really surprised the hell out of all of us.

And then we went back to her house and talked. And talked. And talked.

Yeah...just yeah...
There’s a whole long list of reasons why I love Kate but I think the trait I admire the most is her honesty.  We had some bloody deep conversations, about some pretty tough stuff. We didn’t always agree; in fact we agreed to disagree totally about some things. Other firmly held opinions were batted back and forth very vigorously but without bulldozing, without demeaning. We listened to one another; we tried to understand one another through this imperfect medium of language. We failed, frequently, so we tried again, a different way, using different words. And we didn’t give up until we’d got to understanding. Not necessarily agreement – but understanding.  I can’t tell you how refreshing that is. 

She’s bloody smart. She’s very real. She’s exceedingly brave.
She’s also got a shedload of wisdom in that noddle of hers.  She talks a load of sense.  And no, of course she doesn’t always follow her own wisdom.  She gets tripped up and falls over. Just like all of us. And she freely admits it.  Which is another reason I love her. It’s like I keep saying - I get queasy around gurus.  If someone is perfect; if someone is always gleaming pure white light with a side order of fluffy unicorns, rainbow dolphins and sparkly angels, my eyes narrow in disbelief.  Okay so there might be the odd ascended master or whatever floating around but I haven’t come across any, as far as I’m aware. Everyone else can only be good enough, pure enough, right enough, spiritual enough.  It’s like parenting.  Everyone fucks up sometimes. And if people don’t, I get suspicious. What are they suppressing? What are they hiding?  The people I trust, that I pay attention to, that I listen to, that I love, are the ones that lose the plot from time to time; that screw it up totally every so often; that are beautifully, blissfully, humanly flawed.  And, actually, if you look at most religions – with the honourable exception of Buddhism – there’s a whole lotta prophets and gods and what have you basically going medieval all over the place.  Food for thought, huh? J
God,  I love it when you get angry. :)

Btw, Kate doesn’t *get* Marek. Not remotely. No sirree. Yet, here’s the funny thing.  As I sat and listened to her, it all started sounding weirdly familiar. So much so that I kept shaking my head to dislodge the feeling of déjà vu.  Really, it was like listening to his twin. Except she's female and Englandish of course. 

Friday 25 November 2011

Scared shitless of the big bad UUUUH sound

You have to laugh.  Talk about food and everyone flocks over. Talk about meditation and everyone runs away. But it’s okay.  If I end up talking to myself, that’s fine.  I may even come to like the sound of my own voice. Or I may just lapse into silence (it's happening more and more). J

Except for when I make the big bad UUUH sound.  Zoe mentioned the word 'chant' yesterday and it’s funny cos it’s not one I use. I never think of myself as chanting yet AUM is indeed a mantra, a chant. When I started off trying to meditate in the Labyrinth, I couldn’t get to the pure AUM. My mind was too skittery.  So I went back to a form of meditation I’d tried years before: toning or sounding vowels as mantras.  Yeah, chanting basically. Years ago I did some research on sound healing and I came across Jonathan Goldman’s Healing Sounds tape. Yes, a cassette tape, it was that long ago. I played it sitting at my desk in one of my deeply sceptical moods but I was literally blown away.  In fact it scared me because there came a point where I really didn’t know where I was; I felt completely adrift in time and space.  Now, of course, I’d love that but back then it scared me shitless and the tape gathered dust.

So, when Ma.Ste. talked about meditation in the Labyrinth, I remembered the tape, rummaged in the old chest of drawers and tugged it out.  Found that, yes, we did still have an ancient sound system with a cassette slot and plugged it and myself in.  

Wow. Triple wow actually. 

You start off with the base chakra, with a very deep uuuuh sound then slowly move up until you reach the crown with a high-pitched iiiiii sound. 
There I was, in my study, eyes shut, grunting and squeaking along.  I still can't do the really low uuuuh sound, not deep enough to feel it. Maybe I'm still not really grounded enough?  Some sounds come easier than others and you have to wonder if that means one chakra is happier than the others?
Don't believe in chakras, in the energy centres of the body? 
Doesn't matter in the least.  They probably don't believe in you either. :-)  But I do. Because I can feel them and when I make these chakra sounds, I can feel them vibrating in the relevant part of my body. 
Anyhow, if you find it hard to jump to the pure Zen stuff, I dunno, this might be a way in. It’s active, it gives you stuff to do with your vocal chords and mind (you can visualise each chakra with its relevant colour if you like).  Yet you still get pretty damn good results. 

Sounds woo-woo?  Mebbe. Or mebbe not. 

Here’s how Goldman puts it. ‘Modern science is now in agreement with what the ancient mystics have told us—that everything is in a state of vibration, from the electrons moving around the nucleus of an atom, to planets and distant galaxies moving around stars. As they’re creating movement, they are creating vibration, and this vibration can be perceived of as sound. So everything is creating a sound, including the sofa that we’re sitting on, or this table, or our bodies. Every organ, every bone, every tissue, every system of the body is creating a sound. When we are in a state of health, we’re like an extraordinary orchestra that’s playing a wonderful symphony of the self. But what happens if the second violin player loses her sheet music? She begins to play out of tune, and pretty soon the entire string section sounds bad. Pretty soon, in fact, the entire orchestra is off. This is a metaphor for disease.’
He reckons that if you can project the right resonant frequency (for a healthy organ) to the diseased part it will return to balance by a form of entrainment. It makes sense to me.
Sacred chants (such as Gregorian chants) often employ very high frequencies (around 8,000 Hz) which are capable of stimulating the central nervous system and the cortex of the brain. Simply listening to music that is high in harmonic content is beneficial to us humans.  When you make the sounds yourself, it can be even more powerful.
He also believes that it’s not the sound or harmonic alone that creates healing but that sound in combination with the intention of the person who is projecting it. Magic? No. Just science that hasn’t quite become known yet. And probably won’t because, as Goldman says, ‘You can’t patent a tone.’
Actually he says a whole lot of interesting stuff and if you wanna, follow this link to read an interview with him.  
If you go to his website Healing Sounds you can download this 'chakra tune up' for free. 

7 Minute Chakra Tune Up

There’s tons to say about sound and vibration but I reckon that’s enough for now.  What would Ma.Ste. say?  Probably this…

‘…since it’s music you are supposed to make it or listen to it, and not to write or read about it. Relax.’

And then pick up a guitar…

Thursday 24 November 2011


What else happened in the Labyrinth, a year ago?  What was the other big big trigger?  Meditation.  Yeah. Meditation.
I used to try to meditate; I used to try really hard.  I tried all sorts.  Try, try, try.  But, hey, the trying kinda wrecks it.  It doesn’t have to be hard. Really. Just stop trying and be. Then it’s easy; it’s like falling off a log.

Now I’m a meditation junkie. I meditate all over the space, all the time.  Really, I’m a sucker for it.  Cos, see/feel/hear, you don’t have to sit in the lotus position and contemplate your navel (though I love that too and actually, it is kinda like the seven course gourmet dinner rather than the quick supermarket sandwich – but hey, both have their place).  Meditation is really nothing more or less than being in the now; it’s being everywhere and nowhere (baby), all over the Space, playing in Time.  Meditation puts you right with yourself and right with the world.  
See, I didn’t start meditating and breathing cos I was exercising and eating right – it was exactly the other way round. All thanks to my quasi-guru, of course. So, if you struggle with all the eating and exercising thing, I’d say – put it to one side for now – just breathe and meditate.  Do that and I figure everything out will sort itself out.

Every morning, when I wake up, I do a small meditation, a kind of ‘Hello’ moment of waking awareness.  As I walk the SP in the woods, I meditate by focusing on my steps, being a part of every footfall.  I often stop at the top of the hillfort and lean into my tree with a heartfelt sigh and breathe and breathe and breathe and feel my tree breathing with me and sometimes the whole forest joins in, the trees above and the earth below, and it is pure bliss.  And sometimes we all just kinda go ‘oh what the hell?’ and expand out and have a bit of a love-in with the whole fecking cosmos. And that’s usually when the dentist chooses to walk past and asks if I’m alright. J  And I go, ‘Yeah. Yourself?’  And he says, ‘Looks like a nice day.’ Or whatever.

This morning I stopped by the river.  Just stared at it, watching the dark shadows swarming; the little eddies turning water into kiss curls; busy, busy, busy. Knowing that underneath all that surface froth and fizz and fandango was a steady flowing, a deep knowing moving steadily, inexorably towards the sea.  All that turbulent whirling just like surface mind really, all drama and worry and angst.  I tell ya, I could have stayed there for hours, hours upon hours…
And, lovely thing, my dear online friend Susie whom I met for real in Israel, sent me a book a few days back.  It’s called God Makes the Rivers to Flow (Passages for Meditation).  She wrote in it:
‘I happened across this book in a 2nd hand store in Las Vegas & I knew it was meant for you…’
Eknath Easwaran, the guy that selected the passages in it (from a wide range of spiritual teachings) says a whole lotta wise stuff. Actually a lot of what he says echoes precisely what Marek says.  
Easwaran uses the reading of spiritual passages for meditation (see, each to their own).  On meditation in general he says:
‘Nothing is so direct, so potent, so sure… Meditation enables us to see the lineaments of our true self and to chip away the stubbornly selfish tendencies that keep it locked within, quite quite forgotten…’
And what does my quasi-guru say? He says...


No really, he does.  You can hear it.  Here.  Or see it. Hear.

The name of God in action (I AM), which I sang monotonously many times,  making my brain generate theta waves, travelled from my mouth in all directions. But it was carried farthest by the lake surface in front of me. It couldn’t be heard by the contemporary users and guests of the Post-Camaldolite Monastery, a gem of the local historical architecture, raised in the seventeenth century on the hill of a Wigry lake island (now a peninsular), over ten kilometres away. Though sometimes I felt as if the Camaldolese monks from the past were joining my one-syllable mantra with their chants and prayers. As if the difference between the present and the past was the same as between a meditation and a prayer. The former being a wordless equivalent of the latter.’

He says that when you sing AUM you enter ‘the universe of a quark’. And this morning, nudged by Ma.Ste. I did just that. In my study.  Just sat, chanting AUM until it became automatic, until I forgot I was doing it, the ending becoming the beginning becoming the ending becoming the... The serpent eating its tail.  And at first thoughts come up, as they do, but I just watched them and brought my mind back softly to the sound.  And then...I dunno.  Nothing and everything.  The boundaries of self dissolve.  Expansion and contraction. The universe shooting out through the endless space of a quark. Beautiful. 
Nah. Words don't do it. You gotta go there. You gotta feel it.  Okay? 

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Better things to do with a windpipe than strangling it...

There are some days I just want to strangle. I feel like grabbing them by the windpipe and just squeezing harder and harder until they hold up their pathetic little flailing hands in surrender. I don’t get many like that now but every so often I feel this leviathan scream welling in my throat.  
This morning I have been trying to sort out accounts.  I hate this crap. I really do. I hate the way you have to beg and scrape and scrounge and whine and shout to get the cash you have worked for. I hate that I have to do this crappy work in order to pay the ever-increasing sodding bills.  And sometimes I just want to…well... be elsewhen. 

Anyhow, this morning I had possibly THE most asinine series of emails I have ever had from ANYONE from an accounts department of a large magazine group which steadily made my blood boil until I could barely trust myself to respond without cursing the stupid unhelpful uncaring bland thick as pigshit shit to seven shades of Hell. And no, I'm not saying ALL people in accounts departments are like that - just this particular arsebiscuit.  And Asbo was barking non-stop and and and and…. 

And then I thought. What would my quasi-guru say? 
Oh yeah... 


So…hang on a bit.  I’ll be back...
Aaaah.  That’s better.  And really, that was what kickstarted this whole journey. Well, it was a big part of it.  Cos Marek is big on breathing.  And I have always been small and crap at it. 

My lungs and I have never had an easygoing relationship.  Off ill from school all the time with bronchitis.  Hospitalised with pneumonia.  Any happy-go-lucky virus around would lick its lips and go ‘Hey guys, weak spot alert!’ and lunge for my lungs.  You could argue it had a good deal to do with living in damp houses with parents who smoked. Or then again you could say it had to do with a deep ambivalence about being here in the first place.  Cos I had had that, all my life.  Never quite felt ‘here’, not earthed, not grounded.  Not in a despair way, not in a suicidal way, just in a ‘don’t really feel I belong’ way.  And really, if you're not breathing fully and deeply, isn't that a bit of a body metaphor for not gulping in life? 

The first piece I ever wrote for a national paper was on rebirthing, for The Guardian. Way back. I can still remember punching the air when I got the commission, in my funny little North London house. I can’t, however, remember how I got interested in rebirthing in the first place but I had a trial session and ended up having a course of ten; followed the whole thing for quite a long while before I became disillusioned. When? Maybe after I took Adrian to a Sondra Ray LRT training and (while he loved the breathing, strangely enough) he stormed out halfway through, saying the whole immortality thing and the loving everyone thing was total crap. I guess it was a bit of a deal-breaker between us and so...

Anyhow. Let's backtrack. It was when I was watching my parents having sex during rebirthing (okay, let me just add that I wasn’t physically in the room; you go into a trance state and return to the time before your conception – Milla, you have full permission to wander off until tea-time; and no, they weren't having sex while rebirthing - I was doing the rebirthing bit) I realised that, no, I really really REALLY didn’t want to get born at all.  No sirree.  And sometimes I still feel that way. Not so often nowadays, not so much since this last year of wonderful weirdness, but still...sometimes.  I just become so...detached.  
But breathing helps. J

Okay, so I’ve lost a whole swathe of you now, haven’t I?  *sigh*.  No!  Don’t sigh. Breathe…  You don't have to believe in rebirthing, or immortality, or the business of seeing your conception. No, really, truly you don't have to watch your parents having sex!  Not right now anyhow...  For now...just breathe. 
Because breathing plugs you into the here and now. Breathing is an affirmation of life.  It is, it is, it is.  But really, just spend a bit of time every day becoming conscious of your breathing, how you breathe. Some people freak out when they try it.  It's powerful stuff.  Brings up all sorts.
“Lie down on the grass, Feel the earth breathing…” said my guru.  And, for sure, the earth breathes… Listen. Feel…

“Just sit down and breathe. Slowly, regularly, with every inhale and exhale forming a perfect circle,” he said.  

And I try. I try.  One night he got me breathing consciously for about three hours non-stop and oh my, you should have seen the things I saw in my head that time…and eventually I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed nigh-on fifty years of grief out of me in one fell swoop and felt cleansed, renewed…shattered yet clearer.
You wanna try it?  Nah, not a three-hour marathon but a taster?  There are conscious breathing techniques in pretty well every mystical tradition and ancient culture under the sun and moon but the one that rebirthing uses is to keep the inhale and the exhale the same length, without a pause between. Conscious, slow, regular.  

You may go a little light-headed.  It may feel strange.  But, hey, why not try?  Or not…Or try a different form of breathing. Just breathe! Consciously. Or don't!  it’s entirely up to you!
As Marek says in Symphonic Bridges.  ‘…There are so many other aspects of life, which are crucial for you and absolutely worth experiencing. Especially those regarding your health and happiness. Therefore, you should not take for granted what others say about positive thinking, conscious breathing, meditation, vegetarianism, fasting, fire walking, and so on. Just go ahead and try them, for sake’s sake! Your own experience of the given thingies can be different from what you’ve heard. Everybody is an individual being, you know.’

Thingies... I love that. *smile* 
Exits stage left, breathing...

Breathing Session

And reflections
On the walls
Of crystal palaces
And vast spaces
In my room
Breathe deeply
And close your eyes

I get the answer
Prior to a question
When I open up all my mind
Flying into Light
I keep on breathing
Through pain and heavy air
Past burdens and gravity
I leave behind
Approaching weightlessness

Copyright © Marek Stefanowicz 1990

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Why we should all Flattr...

There will now follow a short commercial break…

pathetically small
You may have noticed (or not) a couple of additions to the sidebar on this blog. No, not the shameless plugging of my books or The Bibble but the Flattr button and the Pay a Blogger Day logo.

Should bloggers be paid for their writing?  It’s an argument that goes round and round and usually involves heated debates about advertising on blogs, on sponsored posts and pay per link rates.  For the record I haven’t done any of that stuff myself (well, not so far) but I don’t have any beef with those who do. Life’s tough.
I’m writing my blog a lot at the moment because, let’s be honest, I ain’t got a whole lotta paid work going on. Also I love the freedom of being able to say exactly what I want, what I feel; to shout out about the people and things I love and admire. Independence, I guess. Should I be paid for that?  To be honest, it’s never even crossed my mind.
I am a waiter  -give generously!

Then Frankie said I should sign up for Flattr – a kind of online tip-jar. It's not just for bloggers but for anyone who creates and shares content online  - it can be words or pictures or photographs or music or vids, or podcasts or  apps or whatever. If you like it, you can Flattr it by clicking on a button. Basically you pay a small amount each month and divvies it up amongst the people you’ve Flattred.  Social micropayments, they call it.  Big change though small payments.  But anyhow, Frankie has blogged about it with far greater passion and eloquence than I could ever muster so I’m just going to suggest you haul your arses over to the blog and read... 

I confess, after reading that, I went from being mildly sceptical to nodding vigorously. Because really, we say we want to foster the arts, to support artists but do we?  Really? Nah, the more I look around, the more I think we rip them off.  So this is a simple, cheap, non-exploitative way to show your appreciation for something you’ve enjoyed on the web. 

"Flattr me," says the Oracle
Flattr have a new initiative called Pay A BloggerDay. It’s asking that on November 29 you give back a little to the blogs you love.  I like that idea.  I read so much fascinating, thought-provoking, darn right brilliant stuff online, it’d be nice to give a little back in return.  So they’re asking you hit the donate button (do people really have donate buttons on their blogs? I must be reading the wrong ones!) or buy the T-shirt or print or whatever (sorry, no Desperate Exmoor Woman merchandise available at this point though I reckon a Beagle Oracle range might have some mileage). Or, of course, you can Flattr.
Anyhow. Change the world, one micro-payment at a time? I think it’s a neat idea. Will people do it?  I dunno.  I hope so. Anyhow, because Frankie nagged me mercilessly, I have put up buttons on the blog and on the individual posts so – if you feel so inclined –you can Flattr me too.  J

Of course, typically, the one on the sidebar isn’t functioning right now…their best people are working on it, I understand.  But the others are.. ;)


I changed my mind into...

Okay, so I was going to carry on and talk about yoga and other exercise stuff but I changed my mind.  Yeah, I do that a fair bit nowadays and, really, don’t you think it can be a good thing?  I was chatting to my friend Gill about it this morning. She hauled me out for a coffee (decaf in my case, of course) and we talked about infinity and reality and perception and religion and education and politics and economics and friendship and confidence and self-esteem and lamb and autism and jealousy and environmentalism and intolerance and globalisation and food miles and Christmas and inlaws and food and the hundredth monkey and drink and goblins and leylines and funerals and faith and strawberries and exercise and vicars and sound and biscuits and light and earrings and and…. Yeah, one coffee turned into three and my bum went numb. J

And…where was I?  Oh yes.  Somewhere in the middle of all that we talked about how some people can be so rigid, so dogmatic.  
‘They don’t listen,’ said Gill.  ‘They just talk over one another, pushing forward their point of view without stopping to hear the other side.’
‘Oh hell, yeah,’ I said. ‘It’s why I can’t listen to politicians. It’s just such a waste of time. It’s never real debate; it’s just synchronised shouting.’
‘It’s not just them,’ said Gill. ‘It’s all those people who are just, you know...‘This is how it is’ and ‘This is just how I am’. And that is it, end of story.’
'And those people who want to change people,' I said, feeling a bit shifty. 'Cos that's rubbish, isn't it? You can't change anyone else; you can only change yourself and how you react to other people, right?'
'Yeah. Want another coffee?'
'I shouldn't, I've got to get some work done.'
'Fair enough.'
'Oh, go on then...'
'Changed your mind?'

Part of me thinks how nice it must be to be absolutely certain, quite convinced; to see the world and onself in such black and white sharp contrast. Not about another coffee or not, of course, but about every last little thing. But then again…it doesn’t allow for any shift, any change, any movement, does it?  And unreally everything is changing all the time. You are not the same person you were twenty years ago, or a year ago, or even a second ago.  Every moment offers a new choice. 

And that, surely, is a good thing?  When things are set in stone, they run the risk of ossifying, of stagnating, of congealing (oh my, how many inappropriate participles can I run up there and all because petrifying has lost its original meaning?).  But once you accept that nothing is really set in stone (that the stone itself is moving, changing all the time even), that change is always possible, nay inevitable…that you and life and nature, yes, by the very nature of the thing, won’t stay the same, then that gives a sense of release.

A year ago, I honestly didn’t believe I could change.  Not in my heart of hearts.  I wouldn’t admit it out loud but a small voice inside said, ‘Nah, that’s it.  Brave up, Jane.’  But change I did and I’m still changing, each and every minute of each and every day and so it will continue. Or so I guess.  I nearly wrote 'assume' there but I changed it because, really, I never assume anything nowadays. 

And so today, regarding this blog post…the one that was going to be about yoga..  I changed my mind.  ‘Into what?’ my quasi guru might say.  J  Or, rather...

“Time passes
Bringing His daughter
Letting Law of Cause and Effect
God in action
Marek Stefanowicz, Symphonic Bridges

With that in mind, I figured I was falling into the same old trap of trying to keep everything neat and tidy; to set it all out in sensible, sane, rational steps. I wasn't embracing change. I wasn't being true to the whole magic of what happened because the honest truth is that it was all totally mad and irrational.  I didn’t just think, ‘Oh, okay, I’ll get my diet sorted out and then I’ll get my exercise thingy going and then, once that's sorted, I'll go be spiritual for a bit.’ There wasn't a plan, not even the vaguest suggestion of one. It all just sort of happened in one big jumble, weirdly and wildly and very unsensibly.  Which is why I would say again, please don’t do as I did and for feck’s sake don’t do as I say… This isn’t a manual for how to change your life. It’s just me putting down what happened to mine. 

So…in all honesty, what did I do first?  I said it in the first post actually and I realise now that I’ve been holding it in for way too long…
Yeah…I breathed. 


So, I'm gonna go and do a bit of that now.  You could too, if you like. And, depending on how the changes go, we may continue doing it tomorrow.  Or not. It all depends...