FINDING YOUR WAY BACK

“This morning, I opened two gifts. They were my eyes.” Unknown

Sometimes, I wake into a sleepy state of forgetfulness. Do you know that feeling? It has a bass note of anxiety and a through line of not good enough. It’s vaporous and shadowy and hard to pin down. An aged ring of insidious discomfort that quietly wriggles its way into those opening moments of daybreak. 

It tends to happen if I’ve been traveling or thrown out of rhythm. Adapting to new hotel rooms, cities, landscapes, languages, food, air quality, space. My particles take their time to catch up after flying too many miles in too short a time. And so the old cloak drapes itself over my sensitive head.

One of my dear friends recently shared about how her self-care practices had slipped since Christmas. How work had taken over and how easy it can be to breathe the morning shadows bigger with cruel whispers of disappointment. When, really, our practice is to simply pause, listen and tune into what is alive inside us. To listen to what our being is truly calling for. We get fooled into thinking it’s chocolate or beer or distraction but, if we look a little closer, it’s often rest, nourishment, touch, connection or the edges of an emotion that hasn’t been traced.  

And this is the practice. To strip away the stories and dissolve old patterns so we can move closer to what is really happening in each moment. To get closer to truth. To what is referred to as first order reality. Reality before you have a thought about it.

“The presence of stillness opens the body and soaks into you like a sponge, if you allow it. A silent understanding happens that is not in words but is the direct experience of what is.” Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing

There are many portals into presence and ‘what is’: stillness, touch, art, music, movement. I’m always looking for new ones and this is a small selection that might help you find your way back home:

  1. FOLLOW THE INNER PROMPTING

If you’re feeling heavy when you wake up, break your routine and let yourself be guided to your journal, your mat, your lemon water, your shower. Mix it up. Don’t do what you always do. Let your inner voice take the lead and see where you end up. I always give myself 90 minutes in the morning to get ready, eat and allow for whatever is needed – writing, moving, dancing, meditating, breathing, sitting, sipping some warm elixir. 

  1. DO ONE THING

Whatever it is, focus entirely on just one thing. Maybe its walking outside your front door with bare feet and breathing the morning air. Maybe it’s five minutes of meditation. Maybe its being completely present while you polish every tooth. Maybe you grab your journal straight away and let the pen move across the page in words or pictures. Which leads me on to tip two.

  1. WRITE

I did this today. I sat up in bed, pulled out my laptop and started to write about the shadows. It turned into a poem. Which turned into this blog. Let life move through you and see where you end up. And then take that principle into the rest of your day. When you go into a story, feel your feet, breathe, listen, then follow the inner prompting again.

  1. BE A CREATURE

Because you are one. This really goes out to my friends in the UK and Northern hemisphere. Sleep, rest, snuggle, eat warm soups and stews, do less and be more. Go to bed earlier and catch the quiet of the winter mornings.

  1. MICRO MEDITATE

If sitting to meditate has fallen away or feels out of reach then do micro meditations throughout the day. Close your eyes and tune in to the contents of the moment. Use your senses to anchor you into presence and sit quietly for a few minutes. Ask yourself, ‘what is the quality of this moment before I have a thought about it?’ Or put your earphones in and enjoy a guided meditation for ten minutes at lunchtime. It will make all the difference.

You can practice presence in each and every moment. The portals are always there and meditation allows us to abide there more fully but you can step in at any time.

How do you find your way back to yourself when the shadows creep in? What are your ways ‘in’ when practice is out of reach? Please add to this little list and guide us all into your own magic doorways by leaving a comment ❤

MORNING SHADOWS

Still, sometimes, 

there are mornings 

where that yawning

shadow hangs

a papery lace,

yellowed and stained,

like my mothers nicotine walls.

It suffocates my deeper knowing,

rivering so freely below. 

A heavy widow’s cloak

blocks out the light and

that part that knows 

this new day is complete.

But I am sleeping

and the edges of not enough 

are sharp and ragged.

Lodged in old grooves,

achy wheels that get stuck,

carrying the ghost of uncertainty

so she can sit lightly on my chest,

almost imperceptible,

her heavy layers 

tremble with short breaths

until I let her pass through.

Is Veganism Fundamentally Flawed? The B12 Conundrum.

We hear that vitamin B12 is only present in animal products – that we can’t get it from plant-based foods. It’s in eggs, fish, meat, dairy and poultry. So, this raises some very tricky questions for vegans:

Do we need B12 – and if so, what for?

If B12 only occurs in animal products, does this mean we need to eat at least some animal-based food?

Are B12 vitamin supplements ultimately derived from animal sources?

How the hell does a vegan get vitamin B12?

Satisfying, plant-based food.

How do you feel satisfied with a plant-based diet?

Can you feel full from vegetarian or vegan food?

My mother has contacted me as she’s having my brother over for dinner.

‘He’s declaring himself as vegan,’ she says, ‘Can you recommend something for a main course, which of course will have to be substantial enough to feed the big lad?’

I am thrilled on two counts:

1) I’m flattered my mother has contacted me for cooking tips, and

2) I’m stoked my brother’s vegan.

But my mother’s question raises what I feel is a regular query – how do you feel satisfied with vegan food?

What vegetarian recipes fill you up?

I made some suggestions for my mother. What about Indian food? A dal served with rice, some chutney, a bhaji and maybe some poppadoms and a bread. Wholly satisfying. What about sushi as a main? Indonesian yellow curry? Bean burgers and chips? I suggested my mother might try what Collette and I made for Christmas – a vegan haggis with neeps, tatties and a whisky sauce with thyme. However, in the end I just felt a bit silly making suggestions – surely my brother can just be fed until he’s had enough food.

Meat eaters will often say that beans and pulses simply don’t satisfy like animal food products do. Many of us are used to a diet that includes animal products and if there is no meat on the plate it can feel like something is missing. I have certainly had that very sensation during my transition to a plant-based diet. I’ve been raised to consider vegetables, legumes and grains as a side dish to the main event. Nowadays, if Collette and I don’t find a vegan-friendly restaurant when we’re dining out, we’re often happy eating a selection of the side dishes. It works out tasty, certainly more varied and often cheaper.

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What are the facts about whether vegan food can fill you up?

An interesting study by the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports concluded that meals based on beans and peas are more satiating than pork and veal based meals. The study fed 43 men. When fed with beans and peas the men ate fewer calories in the next meal compared with those who had been fed pork and veal equivalents. The findings of this study seem to add weight to the argument that our reliance upon meat to satiate is at least to some degree psychological.

Though there may be a psychological barrier to cross to consider that plant-based foods will satisfy even big lads, it is possible. I’m 100kg and my weight hasn’t changed at all since I’ve ditched the meat. So when a vegan comes around for dinner, don’t panic, food without animal products can be as satisfying as food with. It’s just a matter of perception, challenging your own belief system and adjusting engrained habits.

Thanks for reading.

Pete

For recipe ideas check out our recipes page.


We serve a varied, nutritious and inspiring, plant-based diet on retreat.

It can be done

 

“In the depth of winter, I finally learnt that within me lay an invincible summer”.

Albert Camus

It’s October and the shadows have been stretching right the way over my head like a pair of opaque 60 denier tights with no holes for eyes. It’s the mask of a joy thief and this obtuse hosiery has addled my brain leaving me stranded in a place where I am fully myself. That is, I am fully inside my shadow and I’m not denying any of it. This curious period of intimate self-knowledge lasted for around four weeks and was a source of great wonder/amusement/terror for both Pete and myself.

As I emerged from the shadows and lifted the tights for a gasp of air, I found that inside the fibres lay a lurking fear. A loathsome creature with mean teeth, eating away at my hopes and dreams. Opposing my will and almost stopping me from doing almost anything even vaguely dynamic.

We wanted to host a retreat in Bali. I wanted to teach in Ubud. I want to teach. Full stop. It’s time and I miss it and I yearn to be back in community after my long reach inside. And the days and months of self-practice and self-inquiry have served their purpose. It’s time to manifest and create and bring things to life but doubt and hesitation were cultivating a foisty environment that was leaving me to fester.

Maybe we should just go home. Maybe we shouldn’t extend our trip. What are we doing with our lives? What if we fail? What if I’m not good enough? What if I’m supposed to have a semi-detached house and a car and some children and I’m forty soon and how did that happen and and and …

And then I meditated

[…]

I meditate everywhere. In the concrete garden of a Malaysian guesthouse, on the boat surrounded by Indonesian fishermen, overlooking the main road, on the plane, in the bed while Pete is sleeping, on the floor while Pete is typing, in the garden while the kids are playing, on the rocks, on the sand, in the toilet cubicle, in a quiet corner of someone’s roof garden, in the prayer rooms at the airports. I don’t give a shit. When I wait for a yoga class to start, I’m dropping right on in there. I’m tuning in, finding the still frequency beneath all the noise and nothing is going to pull me out. I don’t care if I look like a weirdo – and that, in itself, is huge progress. It’s my secret laboratory where I activate my magic powers and I get present. It’s how I listen and get clear. It’s how I move past the blah blah blah to get real on what is actually happening, why it’s happening and how to move in, through and out of it.

So, as I sat in the shade, safe from the scorch of the Perth sun, peaceful in the garden of my dear old friend. I drank it all in. The unfamiliar sounds of the Australian wildlife. The new language of the Southern birds. The blessing of the cool winds, whipped up from the nearby ocean. The concrete beneath me and the sweetest sounds of the kids squealing with joy in the house behind me. All these anchors calling me in to the sacredness of the moment and each singular element inside of it.

I’m still now and the stillness is running in and through and all around me. I’ve slipped under the sounds and I rest here a while. After maybe twenty minutes I start to ask for guidance. What is the truth? What direction should I take? What do I need to know to move forward? And after a few minutes of stillness these simple words come through, ‘It can be done’.

Now they might seem like pretty obvious words to you. Yes, it can be. Anything can be. But when you’re in a state of doubt and fear and hesitation, those words are far away. And those words didn’t come from my rational brain. It wasn’t an analytical, reasoning, interrogative process that led me to this clear and simple conclusion. It was the deepest part of me telling the voices in my head what the reality was. It can be done. It can all be done. Trust and keep moving in the direction of truth. Move past the critical voices, the doubts and the fears and reach into the highest level of consciousness that you can possibly drop down into. And there you’ll find the guidance you need.

I smiled when the answer came because I knew where it had come from. And when I came out of meditation, I went to see Pete and was all ‘let’s do this’. I was all, yeah man, we rock. I was all clear and confident and grounded in what was true.

So that’s why I meditate. Besides the ripple of bliss that runs through my body when I tune into the stillness. And besides the sanctuary it offers me, wherever I am and whatever is happening. Besides the luxury it affords me as I learn to witness my reactions and see my shadows more clearly. And besides the physical benefits of calming my nervous system and listening to my body-mind. Besides all that, and a whole lot more, it helps me to discern my reality. To move beyond the stories and the limiting beliefs to reach a place of clarity and truth. Where the deepest voice inside of me becomes more familiar and I can learn to recognize my intuition and let it lead the way.

It shows me that it can be done. Whatever it is. And, beyond it all, there is an invincible, endless summer inside that can shed light, warm me up and give me a bit of extra colour when I need it most.