Listen to the sounds you can hear outside the room
Listen to the sounds you can hear inside the room
Bring your attention onto your body, the contact points, the chair/bed/mat beneath you. Your hands resting.
Bring your attention onto your breathing
Place one hand on your chest and begin thinking about compassion
The loving kindness you might feel towards a puppy or a kitten
Now send this feeling to yourself via… heat radiating out from your chest…. Visualising light radiating through your body…. Saying to yourself, ‘May I be happy, may I be well, may I be free from suffering.’
Whatever your method, and even if you feel you can’t, intention is everything. Now focus on sending this compassion specifically to your body.
People often focus on the external, what the body looks like
Let us also go inwards and think about our internal organs. It’s funny how the most important bits are often the bits we think about the least. Whatever our level of human biology knowledge, reflect on the intricate systems and almost magical way in which our bodies work.
Thank your feet for walking you through life
Thank your hands for all you do through them
Admire the parts of your body that you like
Admire the parts that work well
Send compassion to any parts that don’t work so well
Try to soften towards and move towards acceptance of the parts you don’t like. ‘Your mind is as big as space,’ a meditation teacher once told me. Your heart too has unlimited capacity for acceptance and forgiveness, and that includes of yourself and of your body.
Return into your body rather than pushing it away
When you are ready, gently come out of the meditation by focussing on your breathing, then your body on the chair/mat/bed, the sounds inside the room, the sounds outside the room. Allow yourself a few moments of peace before resuming normal activities.
The practical application of Loving Kindness:
Acknowledge any truths that have come up here, perhaps you know you are doing things that harm your body, or know there are things you need to do to care for your body, from booking a screening or an eye test to looking after your back.
Follow/connect on Instagram @rachel_hill_relaxation
We find ourselves serendipitously in probably the best place from which to embark on this year’s cleansing month. We’ve already both given up alcohol, cigarettes and all other things in that realm. Our last hurrah was the end of May Bank Holiday; June, July and August have been completely straight edge.
After recent excesses- letting myself eat loads of the new vegan Jammie Dodgers (the ones in the dark red packaging) on my last day at work before my current holiday, experiencing a sugar rush crackle and a blood sugar crash; John’s birthday ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s cookie on cookie dough vegan) and the associated sick feeling of indigestion, and cakes, I’m really ready to give up sugar.
So for me, sugar and caffeine. It helps me not to eat between meals or get hungry during the day to take a guarana in the morning, but it brings on feelings of anxiety which I could really do without. At work, drink water or a nice herbal tea- bring some, add to the shopping list. If I get hungry, so what, I can take snacks and use it to top up on nutrients- peanuts, avocados, as well as my usual oat cakes and bananas.
The younger me would be horrified, and it still pains me a little to admit it, but giving up sex for a month is easier the older we are. With aging has come aches and pains and reduced fitness and energy as well as a subtle shift in libido. Or maybe not so subtle, I used to be a wild animal. The other day John was laying on the bed and I came though to ask or bring or get something and just held onto his feet, I could have held them forever, a kind of massage, holding, reflexology, it was really intimate and special. Sometimes I feel like just laying top to toe and holding each others feet is pure heaven. The menopause- I guess it’s that, so many symptoms, how do I know what’s what- has brought extra sensitivity so that discomfort is easily triggered, wearing tight knickers or trousers let alone sex. The mind or libido is willing but the body is often not so easy, not so comfortable.
John has recently got seriously back into meditation and tuning into his shamanistic energies. I’ve been doing some of the same guided meditations although not to the same extent. Hopefully we will do a ritual once a week, a circle or a four corners meditation.
As per last year, as much as we can, no processed food and cook from scratch.
How can we help others if we can’t do it ourselves: talk about or at least accept sex, aging; work together successfully, complete what we set out to do, eat well, overcome addictions, meditate, etc.
Already I’m changing, today I went into a cafe by myself and had coffee, diet coke and jam on toast (another last hurrah that I still feel sick from hours later), paid for on my phone. I went out with just my smartphone and a fabric mask both tucked inside my bra, and a bag of recycling to get rid of. Two people asked me for directions, which I take as a sign that I am going in the right direction.
Today is my birthday, I am forty-eight years old. Here is an ‘old person’s selfie;’ no proper attention paid to angle or pose, no filters, no editing, no makeup and no shame (or at least, not enough to stop me).
I like to have some quiet reflective time on my birthday. This morning I got up early, did some yoga and then went for a long walk on the beach and thought about writing. Or I thought about life and picked out the bits I wanted to write about.
What’s on top
I went for a long walk on the beach yesterday morning as well, and I have done some yoga every morning for the past few days. Yesterday (and so far today) I have had no alcohol and no cigarettes. I had fallen into bad holidaymaker habits this past week, which I cannot do for the whole year.
I knew my last post was exactly a week ago and I had already decided to do one today. Then I thought that maybe I should do what I have so far resisted, due either to free spiritedness or pig headedness (as with many of my habits and decisions, it could be either), and sign up to the ‘consistency is key’ advice and post on a regular day every week.
I honestly did not know what day of the week it was today, not in the I don’t know what day it is, think for a second, then you do, type of way. I mean I really didn’t know what day it was. I had to remember the last time I knew what day it was, what day we left Hampi, what day my step-son arrived here in Arambol, and work it out from there. I cannot remember the last time I had so completely lost track of what day it was. It is Friday today so I shall, for the time being at least, post every Friday. I may work on it earlier in the week and just finish it off on a Friday or I may write the whole thing on the day, depending on travel, time and internet access.
This will help me manage the demands of writing a book and writing a blog. Having a once a week schedule is manageable and means I don’t have to fret about when was the last one, should I be doing another one, etc etc. I remember reading somewhere that the more you can turn over to habit, rather than your own fluctuating motivations, interests and energies, the easier it is to get things done.
I feel like the blog will turn into more of an actual blog, rather than having to carry the full weight of any and all writing I do. This has meant that not everything has been included as blogs are by nature a bit snappier, like short short stories. Writing the book means that I can write about things that would otherwise be forgotten, and means that the blog can become slightly more chatty and personal.
If ever I think that maybe young people and their selfies are a bit narcissistic, I can just remember that writing about oneself and putting it on the internet potentially puts me in a glass house. The blog is where I ask myself how I am and check in with myself.
It will also include a travel update and a writing update. I will put the writing update at the end so it’s easy to skip. It will be mainly of interest to other writers who are working on something and to people who are cheerleading me through the process of writing the book (thank you very much for your encouragement, it really does help!).
This will help me have a routine; I’d like to exercise in the morning, write in the afternoons and relax in the evening. I do find no routine, drinking and smoking anytime, sort of fun but it’s easy to cop-out of getting anything done. And how lucky am I, or rather, what a gift I have given to myself, to have a whole year where I can create a routine like that? Or, to be on the more negative side, I chucked away my career and my three bedroom house so all that better have been worth it. (Don’t worry, it totally is!)
Of course, alcohol, smoking, and general lack of confidence and self discipline can follow you almost everywhere. I have not come here to run away from myself but I am fully aware that whatever it was about me that got in the way of me taking my writing seriously in England, can still get in the way here.
I can just about say this first month with my step-son out with us, is a holiday but not after that. That said, I am sure there will be phases of falling off the wagon but I prefer to be clean living and with a routine and then fall off bigger occasionally, rather than a little every day.
We have been in Arambol for a week. Beautiful beach like Agonda but a bit busier, with stalls and shops and alleyways to explore, and much nicer than Anjuna. Tomorrow we go to Panaji the capital of Goa, for two nights before my step-son flies back to England and we leave Goa to go to Kerala for the monsoon.
It is going well. I am working on Chapter Two, which is broadly our first month in India. As usual I get anxious if I don’t write and yet still don’t write for several days at a time sometimes, but yesterday I spent quite a while on it and felt really good.
As long as I don’t get scared or overwhelmed by the length. I think it’s helped that I have separated it into chapters, in different documents. Chapter One, how we got here and some background. My last book, whilst small, was all in one document and became an amorphous mass that would completely overwhelm me. I remind myself, I wrote a dissertation, I wrote a few small books, I can do this. Even if I hadn’t, I could just say it’s like lots of blogs strung together. I have actually put all the India blogs into the chapter and am working around and into them, adding detail, expanding, linking.
A string of blogs is a good starting point but the writing style is different. I realise that I can slow down, drill down into things, take my time, allow themes to develop. I have begun by putting all my blogs and notes into chronological order whilst being flexible about some things being ordered by subject instead. Things link to each other, for example:
Yesterday I thought there should be a food bit, about the different food we ate at different places (hopefully more interesting than it sounds). Today on my walk I thought, I could do an animal section and then I came to ‘Dog Temple,’ there a sign with a dog’s face in a star, saying, ‘We welcome you,’ (It was an animal shelter).
Things call back to each other. The people we met in Anjuna told me afterwards that they said to each other, ‘Shall we ask them if they want something to smoke,’ and the other said, ‘No they are too old,’ which made me laugh a lot. Today, as I walked on the beach, a man stopped me and chatted to me, then at the end of the conversation asked me if I wanted to buy anything to smoke. I politely declined saying I am being healthy right now but I was quite pleased anyway! Especially as it was my birthday!
On Saturday morning I was the body for my husband giving a massage lesson (I know, it’s a hard life…) As I listened to him patiently and professionally deliver a one hour comprehensive introduction lesson to a complete beginner, that was pitched just right, that created just the right atmosphere, and that in the time available, did everything it could; I reflected that wow, we know stuff. We know stuff because we have been around for a while, learning stuff. Because we are older.
I have spent such a lot of time thinking about what I don’t know and what I can’t do, that this weekend it was really nice to spend a bit of time thinking about what I do know and what I can do. I used to think I wasn’t very well read because I compared myself with Oxbridge educated Guardian journalists. But the other day I casually mentioned Rebecca (by Daphne Du Maurier, a book and films) in a big work meeting and no one had heard of it. No one. I was surprised; I didn’t think any less of the people, I just thought, okay, my reality is different to what I thought.
At work on Friday, someone was talking about starting yoga, and about how the teacher had talked to them about the chakras. I found myself talking a bit about them, and sending a link to a page so she could learn more. I don’t really do spiritual/chakra stuff anymore, but for a while I was pretty into it. Focusing on the different chakra points, their colours, their corresponding mental, psychological and physical aspects, is a very powerful tool for self healing and development. I used to think: Root Chakra (red) safety, security; Sacral Chakra (orange) drives, creativity; Solar Plexus Chakra (yellow) emotions; Heart Chakra (green) love; Throat Chakra (blue) self expression, communication with myself and others; Third Eye Chakra (indigo) direction and seeing my path; Crown Chakra (violet white) connection with above.
So I thought, be proud of what you know, not sad re getting old.
Of course, there are loads of things I don’t know, loads of things I haven’t learned, loads of things I have refused to learn, e.g. DIY and reverse parking. I feel totally okay about that. The longer you live the more things you find out about or hear about, so the list of things you don’t know how to do keeps on growing, even as you keep learning, because you can’t learn how to do everything you come across. You have to specialise. (Rather than feel bad about the things you don’t know about.) Knowing things, being good at things, takes time, energy and devotion. (I want to learn a bit of Hindi. So far I know about 5 words, and that’s only if I keep looking at them every day.)
I thought about what’s good about getting older, which is actually what’s good about me as I get older. And as I am older, I could just simplify that to say: What’s good about me. (Making this list was nice. I recommend it as an exercise in compassion and a little pick me up!):
What’s good about me
I have no inhibitions about my body
Yesterday I stripped off in front of someone I have only just met and lay on the massage table feeling fine with nothing on except my knickers.
I am sexually liberated
I had kind of a thing recently with a woman, and we can see each other and it is all fine, no issues.
I can say what I want in bed.
(in both senses of the meaning)
Sex just keeps on getting better and better.
That’s what no one tells twenty somethings. If you are in a loving communicating relationship, sex just keeps on getting better and better, in new and surprising ways!
I know: your art is the most important thing
More important than alcohol, socialising, FOMO, peer pressure, or any other ephemeral distractions. Your art is what makes you you. By honouring your art, you honour yourself. By spending time with your art, you spend time with yourself. By getting to know your art you get to know yourself.
I understand: ‘The matrix’ is really just your own thoughts limiting you
Re bands and art, you have to want it, and you have to stick with it, for ever if need be, enjoying the process not just aiming for the rewards of fame etc. If you are in a band you either all have to want it, or you have to be single minded enough to drive it yourself with interchangeable musicians.
It is a myth that it is too hard to make it. Like Charlie Higson said about writing, there’s no magic trick or secret doorway, if you are good you will be picked up. There’s so few people who can stick at anything, look at new year’s resolutions, diets, exercise regimes. All you have to do is stick at it, and want it, want it enough to stick at it (1% inspiration, 99% perspiration), despite all the matrix pressure to ‘be realistic’, etc etc.
In fact the only thing people can stick at is what the matrix wants them to stick at, the everyday drudgery, the oh hi, another day another dollar, oh well, maybe I will win the lottery, soon be the weekend, I have a holiday to to look forward to, or oh look a charity jeans day or a Christmas jumper day, just enough to make it seem not too bad and everyone’s doing it so it must be okay right?
And every now and again they’ll scare you, a round of redundancies, or a crisis that causes stress so you take the whole thing even more seriously, you stay late, you give up the hobby class and exercise routine, or worse you never eat or sleep properly, you’re always at work, always unhealthy… and for what, not for personal freedom that’s for sure.
So the lesson is: Look at what the herd is doing and do the opposite. Look at what the herd believes and believe the opposite. As Jon Rappoport says, in this consensus reality we live in, the limits we see there aren’t real. I can be a writer. I am a writer. Or rather, I am a ……… as yet to be labelled…….. and I document it on my blog. But let’s get away from labels altogether. If we aren’t labelling, if we aren’t preoccupied with what people do for a living (the herd again), then we don’t need to say anything. I can just say, in answer to what do you do, I am a human, I live. (And I document it on my blog)
I have set up an Instagram account for when I am away followingthebrownrabbit