Thursday, 1 October 2015

Deeper not new

I think maybe we live in a culture that highlights the new. That celebrates and extolles new experience and new stuff. Going on holiday to a new location, a new eating place, a new film, the new fashion, the new laptop/phone and on and on.......

We can sometimes bring this attitude to mindfulness and body work without really being awake to it. 

I feel that whilst new stimuluse and new stuff have their place. Some of the deepest and most profound work is with the familiar, with the ordinary. Re connecting again and again allows us to go deeper into areas that often benefit us the most. 

So when I'm craving new experiences or new stuff I try to focus into where the desire comes from. It's often from a maybe less skilful place. I'm trying to avoid uncomfortable feelings or situations. 

Old well worn situations can allow us to go deeper. We don't generally look for new ways to love our parents, our partner, our children (if we have them) but we can look to find ways to love them more fully or deeper. 

No conclusion just some thoughts. 


Thursday, 2 July 2015

Grasping with the eyes

Grasping with the eyes

I believe that it was a shared idea in many different cultures that the process of seeing was one of grasping. That the eyes would reach out and grasp what they were seeing. 

Of course this is not the modern way of thinking;  we now have the idea that the eyes are simple receptors and take in whatever they see in a neutral way. That light travels from the world and hits the back of the eyes. 

The idea that the eyes reach out and grasp seems odd, old fashioned, when coming across the idea its easy to think of those simple pre-science folks, did they know nothing?

On the bus the other day I became aware of my eyes grasping, I was actively looking, reaching out, searching. It felt exactly like my eyes were indeed grasping. 

So is what previous thinkers were reflecting on, the feeling of the process of seeing, did they really not understand or did they see the bigger picture? 

I realised that I was compulsively seeking out things to see, I suppose I was looking for stimulus. It was an urgent and compulsive feeling. There seemed to be a strong desire for stimulus but also a feeling of not wanting to miss out. 

I realised that it was taking quite a lot of energy to do all this grasping. It was also making my mind quite agitated 

So I thought I’d stop, after all I’d become aware of the feeling/action/behaviour and normally when I become aware of a mental process I can change it quite well (if only for a short time)

And I found it really difficult. I tried lowering my eyes, I tried not lowering my eyes but not grasping, I tried softening my eyes and just allowing what came to come. It was really difficult. 

So no conclusion, I just thought I would share and let you into what goes through my mind on the bus sometimes 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Tech Neck

We seem to be running an experiment on ourselves as a society. The unprecedented use of 'smart' phones is putting us into compromised body positions for prolonged periods of time.

I'm sure you have seen it in others, you may not have felt it in yourself. Head jutting forward, shoulders and upper back rounded forward and inwards 

The nearest pre smartphone position I can think of is the classic prayer position, but actually this is very stable in comparison. 

Smartphones seem to have a way of dragging us in that not only prolongs their use (the stats on the amount of use my young people is terrifying) but has us holding a posture that is causing discomfort or pain whilst making no attempt to change it. We seem to be almost trying to dive into the devise, whilst loosing our body awareness.  

There is lots of speculation about the effects of this posture over the long term, but as I said, its an experiment so we can't be sure. In the short term the effects are dramatic, shoulder, neck and back pain, dowagers hump and postural Kyphosis for starters.

So what's to be done; firstly try to be more aware of doing the damage, keep a bit of yourself back to be aware of how you are feeling in your body. Listen to the messages that are coming to you from your body, its easy to think, just one more game/look at Facebook/blog post and then I'll move, you then find you have been it 'that' position for an hour. 

Once the damage has been done; Get a regular Shiatsu treatment from me; but also move the body in the opposite directions, often. A structured approach can be found here, by Ekhart Yoga. You could hang from a door frame, stretch upward and back or downward dog are all good... this one below was shown to me by my friend Mick, hold the chest on the sternum and tilt the head back; this stretches the SCM (which tend to shorten with Tech Neck) and feels lovely 

Monday, 8 June 2015

How do you Roll?

Over the last 15 years or so I have been rolling

I have been rolling on foam rollers, the GridRumble Rollers, TP Therapy Rollers, lacrosse balls, tennis balls, dog toy balls, Jill Miller yoga therapy balls, golf balls........

What's all this rolling been about; well that has been evolving and changing but the basic idea has been to do self massage. Sometimes based on working muscles, sometimes fascia, sometimes connective tissue and sometimes all of those.

I have been unable to find a massage or bodyworker who prices as I do, so I can't afford regular sessions. The rolling has been an attempt to get a good self massage and deal with the normal everyday issues that come up if you own a body and want to feel at ease in it.

Over the last few weeks I have been using a different bit of kit and the change has been very noticeable.
I found a second hand book by Yamuna Zake about body rolling; she sells her own balls but I thought I could adapt her methods to the tools I already owned. 
Well I found I could not. A huge part of her approach is about letting go. Letting go of tension in the muscles which allows lengthening and change to happen.

I realised that the other tools were causing me to hold, to hold on and to push back against the various balls and rollers. They were just too hard, too abrasive, too challenging. Now this is me and at this time, the other tools I have used can be great and can allow some change. But for me at the moment Yamuna Balls are allowing real change to happen. And the results are happening because I'm able to let go

Yamuna's work can be found here

If you are interested in buying the balls I would suggest Yoga Space really nice people 

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


Noun; the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.  

Humans are the most adaptable species on the planet. The cost of this is that our young (or young-lings as Star Wars will have it) take the longest of all to be independent. 

The advantage is that we can exploit nearly every situation or environment there is, from the arctic to the jungle, from hunter gathering to mega cities.
Humans (me and you) have adapted and more importantly will continue to do so. 

Now I find this idea a little intimidating. We will continue to adapt! That means that every thing we do, every thought we have, every behavior we express will lead to adaptation (to change). Doing nothing is not doing nothing it's active adaptation. 

So when we slump on the sofa it's not neutral it's an adaptation to slumping on the sofa. The same is true for; taking the car rather than cycling, being negative rather than positive, eating crap rather than something healthy, I'm sure you get the idea. 
We tend to become what we do, like the wake of a ship our actions have consequences that stream after us, this is part of the idea of Karma. 

But the positive expression of this is also really true, every time we make a better decision we adapt. That means that in a relatively short space of time we can change. We can be fitter, more flexible, happier or more positive (whatever your list looks like). 

For me the point is there is no neutral, we will adapt; we have no choice, we just need to keep actively choosing to make that a positive adaptation. 

It makes us responsible but also means we have an endless ability to get better, whatever that means to you.