“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:


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. 


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.


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.


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 ❤


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.

I see you. I am here. The secret to successful communication.

‘Some people possess something very special: they have the now in their heart.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

I’m barefoot on the volcanic path, the jungle fully awake and the morning sky all silly blue, taking the 20 or so paces from home to the studio. Ten minutes early for class and there are a few people sitting quietly in the space. I set myself up and approach them, one at a time, careful not to intrude. I’ve meditated and am deep in the dimension of relationship. It’s the theme for my class and it’s a good one as it keeps me anchored into my big Self. I’ve got my presence on in a big way. And I am here. Ain’t got my head in no other place. I’m not with anyone else doing any other thing, following any other story, making any other plans. I’m here.

Learning to let go through yoga

“When my body thinks, all my flesh has a soul.”


Imagine you were able to take all the ‘sighs of relief’ you never knew you needed. Each and every one of those stored-up, sealed-up, tucked away exhales that never had the chance to escape. As I release another low, long breath in Downdog, I realise that every exhale on my mat is another something I’ve held on to. A harsh word, a loud sound, an unexpressed feeling, a complex emotion, a fear, a struggle, an aversion. And when I say exhale, I’m not talking about breathing out through my nose when the teacher tells me to. I mean those protracted whispers that take flight from my mouth. The slow release exhales of the let go.

As I come to my mat and my body moves, the pathways begin to open and the information super highway of my nervous system gets the green light. All the held breaths, layered narratives and undigested moments begin to shift into a softening, releasing and dissolving. But it doesn’t always require movement to experience these ancient sighs. It doesn’t mean a dynamic vinyasa class or something vigorously active. I get the same experience from meditation or lying on a bolster in a restorative class for two hours. Those deep, long, healing exhales. Sometimes it’s yawns, moans, sighs, sobs. But when something wants to move, I open the doorway of my mouth and let it all go sailing out. Every. Last. Drop.

And I wonder, ‘wow you must have been holding on to so much’. But of course I have. Of course we all do. We’re holding on all the time. To life. To each other. To what has been and what might be and the letting go is that descent into the present. Into the body. Out of the mind and beyond. The exhale is the letting go of certainty, knowing, owning and attachment. Those sweet sighs are the letting go of judgement, violence, assault and attack. They are the inner movements of what we can’t see. The tracks of our process, the coded messages that move through us so the space can be set for the next experience of ourselves.

“Knowledge has always originated in the body, starting with those sense receptors in the skin that mediate our relationship with the external world.” Marina Benjamin, New Philosopher.

We mediate ‘reality’ through our bodies. Our senses are how we come to interact with the world. Proprioception helping us to feel our way through space. Gravity holding us and pressing down upon us. In classical yoga, sense withdrawal is a drawing in of the senses but not a denial of them. In Tantra it’s part of the practice to embrace the sensorial, tuning into silence by first tuning into sound. We can come into presence when we become aware of all we can sense and that inner gaze is still described as a ‘seeing’. This dance between the seen and the unseen realities can come to us through our experience of embodiment. Of ‘being’ in this sacred human form.

 “Gilles Deleuze […] suggest(s) that experience trumps reason by virtue of exceeding it. Because sense experience is not hampered by any pre-existing assumptions, what the body apprehends opens us up both to novelty and strangeness.” Marina Benjamin.

The body is vast and fascinating and I want to travel down to its molecular details with my awareness. I want to know myself intimately, from my cells to my selves. This body teaches me so much and I have only just started to speak its language. Only just begun to listen to its wisdom. Only just understood that there are secrets and guidance and ancient etchings in these bones. I’m learning how letting go isn’t just something I can ‘do’. It’s something I can ‘allow’. Letting go can be an intellectual, conscious aspect of our practice but through asana we allow the body to let go on its own terms, untying the knots, one exhale at a time.

In this practice of listening,

A moment may come when you just want to lie down.

This is a doorway – surrender.

Fall into the wide-open embrace of life.

You are the instrument breath is playing.

The Radiance Sutras

Let go with us in May or September 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.

I died a thousand times

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“Every yoga practice is an experience of death.”

Nameless Yogi

What is certain? Certainly not the future. So what is happening right now for you?

Listen. Let the sounds reach you. Become aware of the temperature of the air on your skin. The breath that breathes you. The quality of light that surrounds you. What is happening right now in your body? Become aware of your posture. Your shoulders. The slight tension in your jaw or your brow. What can you hear. And smell. And taste. And what is the texture of your emotions as you read these words? How do they find you today?

Take a moment.

Close your eyes.

And listen.

“We practice yoga, not for life but for death. If any of you are practicing for the life you are mistaken.”

I don’t know his name but it’s not important. I’m more interested in the life force that is joyfully animating his slight Indian form. There is a lift and dance in his movements that reflects the impish arc of his smile, widening with his eyes as he teaches from the front. Witty and provocative, he amuses himself as he watches our addled brains lumpishly wrap around the esoteric enquiries of the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.

“The only thing that is certain is death. In pranayama we are controlling the life force, no? We hold our breath. We stop the life that is breathing us.”

In every moment there is a death. Each moment that has just past is gone. To sit inside that moment and this moment and that moment is to live more fully. To experience the moment as it passes away is to live and die in a heartbeat. Or at least, that’s what I thought he was talking about.

What I also thought he was talking about was the power of yoga to transform. That gradual metamorphosis of who we are, how we see ourselves and begin to experience the world. We peel back the layers of conditioning, shedding the old skin that doesn’t fit any more. We begin to notice our recurring patterns, start to see through the traffic of our thoughts, catch ourselves in our shadows and, as we practice, something luminous begins to sing in our words and ways. In how we treat our bodies, listen to our loved ones and get closer to ourselves. As the dead cells fall, we rise up to live.

Asana, meditation, and the ancillary practices, burn and burn and burn till we reach the stillpoint. We move our bodies to still our minds and come home to this expansive state of being that anchors us so fully into the now that everything else diffuses. Through the practices we die a thousand times. And, conversely, the parts of ourselves that we have cast away and denied get to live again. The judgements, the expectations, the chaos and the ideas about who we ‘should’ be are replaced with something far greater. A truer sense of what lies beneath. One that pierces through those tired concepts of ‘self’, allowing them to perish so we can become fuller.

In a previous lecture, our artful guide challenged us to consider that yoga is not union. Yoga is separation. This was dangerous ground, I thought. Yes, we are separating ourselves from our thoughts and our concepts but we can all too easily separate ourselves from our feelings in a bid to ‘transcend’ our ‘suffering’. In my understanding, it is only through uniting with our suffering that it can pass away. We must experience that which is painful to allow it move through. As with death, we can’t avoid it. If we push it away, deny it, separate from it, bypass it, our spirit will die from the toxicity of what remains buried. In contrast, if we recognize what is truly living in us, if we see the certainty of our pain and the root of our suffering then it can dissolve. When we shift from the consumption of thought to the consciousness of feeling, we learn to honour the whole spectrum of human experience and facilitate flow. By not getting caught up in the story that surrounds what is happening, by ‘separating’ our thoughts and ‘uniting’ with our feelings, we become more alive as those concepts die a death.