Do Unto Yourself

I realised something the other day; I put up with far more abuse from myself than I ever would from someone else. And it’s the sort of abuse I would never dole out to another person, no matter how much I thought they deserved it.

It’s interesting to think that the closer we are to someone the more abuse we will put up with from them. As far as I can ascertain the list goes like this:

1. Complete Strangers – No right to criticise us whatsoever

2. People we meet because of something we do (Work Colleagues/Fellow Students/Gym Friends) – Can be mildly critical, but not abusive.

3. Friends – Can be critical in detail and somewhat abusive “for our own good”. Are allowed to tell us “what we need to hear”. They keep their language just this side of legal unless they deem it necessary to get their point across.

4. Family Members – Often make no attempt to sugar-coat anything they say. Are quite often abusive. Think they have a right/duty to tell us “the truth”.

5. Loved Ones – Often have no filters, and use language that many find abusive and hurtful.

6. You – Thinks they have an absolute right to treat you however they like. No filters. Often incredibly hurtful.

(7. Complete Strangers – Can say whatever they like, because they might be crazy and turn violent.)

do you like the hat?

The other day I was driving down the road and I missed a turn-off. I was already stressed and tired, with a long drive ahead of me, and I started cursing, calling myself all kinds of things; stupid, moron, idiot (although with far more expletives in between).

Then I realised, these were things I would never call anyone else: Not ‘only a few people’ but anyone else (not even other drivers!). It was language I would never find acceptable from anyone, no matter who they were. I was treating myself worse than I would treat an absolute stranger, even if (in my opinion) I thought they’d done something to deserve it.

And I was letting it happen too! If I saw someone abusing someone else like this I’d feel a compunction to intervene. But me? When it’s me I just let it happen. Because I’m me, aren’t I. I have a right to, don’t I?

I do not.

We often hear the phrase, “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do To You”, and whilst a laudable sentiment I think it needs rephrasing. Because an Other might punch you in the face, whereas You will not. There’s even less motivation to be nice to yourself. So from now on I think the phrase should be, “Do Unto Yourself As You Would Do Unto Others.”

If a friend does something wrong, or has a problem, I am kind, and understanding, and supportive. If a stranger tells me their problems I try to listen and not be judgemental (I don’t always succeed, but I try). Why then do I not do the same for myself?

So that’s what I’m going to try and do from now on. I’m going to treat myself like a friend. I’m going to listen, to try and understand, and my advice will be warm, and encouraging, and riddled with hope. I will do my best to support myself, and I won’t be so critical when things go wrong. Everyone makes mistakes. Why act like mine are so much worse than everyone else’s?

I like Me. I want Me to do well. So I’m going to be nicer to Me from now on. Why don’t you join me in this? It can only lead to good things.

No Risk, No Reward

The world is full of stories of people who risked everything to get where they are in life. Who gambled it all and won. The reason the world is full of these winners, is because you don’t hear from the losers. They don’t get headlines on the BBC News website, or become instafamous. They usually go away to some quiet corner and wonder what the hell they’re going to do now?

I have no idea where I’m going with this, so you’ll have to bear with me.

September 2012, I packed it all in to learn to become a yoga teacher and then travel round the world. I gave up a successful, well-paid career to do this, and spent all of my savings. This is where the “inspiring story” usually begins.

I met a girl on the yoga course and we started a relationship. She came out to Australia to travel with me for a while.

August 2013, I returned to England with no money. Started working back in TV, mostly so I could travel to Germany to see my new girlfriend.

Mid 2015, After two years of working and traveling back and forth, got dumped the day after I quit my job so that I could go live in Germany permanently. As you can imagine, not part of the plan.

Nov 2015-2017, After taking the summer off moved into a flat in London (I was staying in hostels my two years previous as I was officially living in Germany, even though I was working in London). Life stalls as I just work and wonder what the hell to do next.

In this time I managed to get an agent for my writing, though I do not manage to find a publisher for my book.

Nov 2017-May 2018, Live at the yoga centre as a resident. Always a stop-gap measure.

May-Nov 2018, Live in a flat in Kendal, whilst still working in London. Despite much writing, this does not go quite how I had hoped. A certain amount of isolation sets in. Yoga falls by the wayside.

Yesterday, After being here only seven months, receive eviction notice because the flat has been sold. Whilst this is perfectly legal within the terms of my contract, this makes me very angry.

Which bring me to today. Honestly, I can’t tell you where I’m at today. Except I can, sadly.

I have a job I don’t like, which I have to travel to London for. I have lots of free time to write, but no one to share that free time with. I have to find somewhere to live, again, and the prospect of me ever buying a place is still so far away on the horizon, thanks in large part to the fact that moving up here ate WAY into my savings. I have no pension, no plan, no house, no girlfriend (no kids), and no idea what the hell I’m going to do next. Oh, and I’ll be forty five in a couple of months time.

So what’s my point? Well, let’s see…

Number One: It’s ok to feel depressed, and angry, and upset. Sometimes life kicks you in the nads, and you have every right to scream and shout and protest that it isn’t fair. You don’t have to keep up this cheery, optimistic facade all the time.

Number Two: Failure is a part of risk, and not every risk pays off. That’s why they call it a risk. The only thing worse than taking a big risk, possibly, is sticking with the same old same old, and dying alone in a hospice bed full of regret.

Number Three: Don’t compare the entirety of your life to the cherry-picked cream of someone else’s. All those people on Instagram with their fabulous friends in exotic locations, they don’t post about the lonely times when they cried themselves to sleep. Life is hard sometimes, and comparing yourself to others only makes it harder.

Number Four: Life has its ups and downs. Or, to put it another way, shit happens.

I’m going to have to put a lot of thought into what I want to do next. It seems like every aspect of my life is up for grabs at the moment. And the clock is ticking. Two months from now change is going to happen, whether I want to to or not; and if I’m not out in front, leading the way, I’ll be hanging on behind, getting dragged kicking and screaming along with it.

Headstand Update

It’s been a while since I did any new headstands, hasn’t it. I wish I had an excuse, but I’ve just been a bit lazy.

But now, since I’ve got myself on Instagram and Twitter, I find myself motivated to do more. I at least want to get to one hundred before sticking a fork in it all, so to that end here are no’s 81, 82, 83 and 84.

Arthurs Seat Headstand, Edinburgh, Scotland

81: A nice easy one this one. A short walk up to the top of Arthurs Seat. If you’re in Edinburgh it’s well worth doing. Get some really nice views too.

Ben Nevis Headstand, Ben Nevis, Scotland

82: This is the third and final one in my own Three Peaks Headstand Trilogy. With the other two already in the bag, I now have a headstand on top of the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales. I like that. It’s also a little bit weird.

Loch Ness Headstand, Loch Ness, Scotland

83: This little beauty was done by the shores of Loch Ness on International Yoga Day 2018. That amused me.

Old Man Of Coniston Headstand, Consiton, Cumbria, UK

84: And finally, the latest one from the top of the Old Man of Coniston. Now that I’ve moved back up to the Lakes you can expect a few more Wainwright summits rounding out the numbers over the coming months.

The question now is, as I get a little closer to triple figures, what should be number one hundred? Any ideas?

Everything Changes, Always

Everything changes. Always. There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s just what happens.

I know things seem to stay the same, for a while at least, but they don’t. Perhaps their change is happening over an incredibly long period – like the sun, which is in the process of dying moment by moment, but is still going to last another five billion years – but it’s happening, believe me.

Yesterday there was a lamppost outside my house. Today there isn’t, because someone reversed into it and knocked it over. This morning I had a beard, now I don’t.

So why am I obsessed with change right now? Simples. Because there’s a lot of it going on for me at the moment.

puja flowers on the thames

At the end of may I completed my six month tenure as a resident at the yoga centre in Putney. I agreed to six months when I moved in there, and six months is what I did. But I couldn’t tell you how I did it! Because it was tough. Not the work so much, though it could have its moments, but the capricous nature of some of the other members of the ‘community’.

Honestly, I’ve enough dealing with the demons running round in my own head, never mind other peoples’. I saw staff members who planned to stay for months come and go within a matter of weeks, sometimes disappearing over night. I took dressing downs for things I hadn’t done, or that most people would file under ‘minor irritation’ that for some reason were ‘major problems’ there (the more intense the environment the bigger the problems are; just ask anyone who’s been to prison). I broke up one fight, had a slanging match with a student, and saw people who think they’re somewhat enlightened who clearly had no idea what self realisation is all about.

But that was just the bad. I also met and worked with some of the nicest people you could ever imagine meeting. Y’know, the sort of people you’d let look after you dog. I got to experience some intensely selfless moments, learnt lessons that needed to be learned, and discovered that I can do so much more than I thought possible.

It was a learning experience alright, but all things must eventually come to an end.

grasmere

I’ve moved to Kendal, in the Lake District (well, technically just outside, but only just ‘just outside’, if you can’t my drift), partly for a better quality of life at a cheaper price, but mostly to give me time to work on my new novel, which I could not do while I was at the yoga centre. I’m still working in London, for now, which means going back and forth all the time, staying in airbnbs, and wondering why I bother quite a lot, but that won’t be forever. In fact, by the end of the year, I hope to be done with TV work for good (for the third and final time in my life).

book notes

I’m glad to say the novel writing is going well. I have some good characters, a really strong outline, and I think that by the end of the year I should have the first draft ready to send to the outside world. The question is, by then, where will I be living?

You see, this is where the impermanence comes in again. I had expected to be in my new flat for at least a year, but six weeks into my contract the landlord makes it clear he wants to sell. Six weeks! I was not amused to say the least. It cost me a lot to make this move, never mind the stress and aggro, and now this! Honestly, I could spit.

But that’s it isn’t it: Change; impermanence. Nothing ever lasts, and though you think it should, and you expect it will, even that can change too.

This is why we practice non-attachment, so that we can remain stoic in the face of the ever changing universe. To greet triumph and disaster with equanimity, and to remember that, like a boat on the ocean, all the highs and lows are merely peaks and troughs on an endless sea of waves.

Anyway, some food for thought there. To quote Slartybartfast, “Hang the sense of it and just keep yourself busy.” So, to that end, I’ve joined Twitter and Instagram. Just a little something to keep me going for now. If you use either you’ll find me as @LakeyCakesUK on both, but I’ll also be posting a little more frequently on here (once I sort through my plethora of pictures from the summer so far).

It’s all change for me. And it’s all change for you. And that’s neither good, nor bad, it just is. And once we get to grips with that, life can get a whole lot easier.
 

“Everything will be alright in the end. And if it’s not alright, that’s because this is not the end.”

 

Maitri

Let me tell you a story of love.

chill love

For a few months now I’ve been living as a resident at the yoga centre I go to. I still work, I pay rent, but then I spend my free time at the centre helping out; teaching, cooking, sitting on reception, whatever needs doing.

Being here all the time not only allows me to practise my sadhana at a deeper and more consistant level, but it also allows me to connect with the students that come here much better than I was during the ninety minutes I saw them when I was here teaching before.

One such student is an Indian chap called Mohandas. (Not his real name. Mahatma Gandhi’s real name, in fact.)

Mohandas is a lovely man. Very quiet, very calm, always eager to talk to you, to make a connection. He is in his seventies or eighties (I’m guessing), comes quite a distance to visit the centre, and probably enjoys the company as much as anything else. But you know what, I doubt he’s much different than the rest of us in that respect.

I had only ever seen Mohandas in reception – we would chat a little about his family, I would encourage him to come to yoga and satsang – but I never saw him in a class or got to teach him at all. Then one day I went in to do a class and there he was.

The way things worked out I found myself lying next to him. We had to move his mat to get it in line with everybody else’s, and that was when I discovered how frail Mohandas actually was. I had to help him stand up to move his mat. It made me wonder how he would fair during the class, which was an avergae, drop-in, intermediate class.

Class began as always with chanting. As we got ourselves ready Mohandas struggled to get himself upright. Then when he tried sitting on a single low cushion he couldn’t keep himself where he was, and kept rolling backwards towards the mat. I went and got him a thicker, higher cushion, and the teacher and I helped him onto it. He seemed ok, the chanting began, but as it continued I saw Mohandas roll slowly backwards, until he was lying flat on his mat but with this thick cushion under the small of his back.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to do. We have always been taught not to disturb the chanting. But then Mohandas looked up at me with pleading eyes, and said very quietly, “It hurts.”

I was compelled. The outpouring of love I felt for this man was unbelieveable. I saw myself in him, and him in me. There was no separation.

I immediately helped him up, the teacher came and held him while I removed the cushion, then I went and got a chair from outside for him to sit on. We helped him into it, made sure he was comfortable, and then we continued with the class as normal.

All the time Mohandas was apologetic, sorry for all the fuss, and never once did it occur to me that it was a problem. This sweet man needed my help, and I helped him in the same way I hope someone would help me if I was ever in need of it.

To be honest I was far more annoyed with the girl who, as I was in the middle of helping this man, asked me to remove his mobile phone that he had brought into class with him. There I was, chair in hand, this poor man in need of a seat, and she interrupts with her request. I was amazed. I simply told her, “One thing at a time,” got Mohandas settled in his seat, then popped his valuables into a locker for him and gave him the key.

Mohandas did the breathing exercises in the chair, proceeded valiantly through the sun salutations and asanas, enjoyed a well deserved final relaxation, and finished the class back in his chair for the Om Tryambakam.

At the end of the class I helped Mohandas get his things, we talked about the gentle classes we have available at the centre, he apologised once again, once again I told him (completely honestly) that it was not a problem, and he went home.

I wanted to share that story with you because such a feeling of loving compassion is not one I have often felt. Only once or twice in my life have my own thoughts and feelings been so completely with another person, identifying with them in such a way that, in helping them, I am also helping myself. It was a unique moment for me, a profoundly spiritual moment, and one that I will remember always.

And if you’re wondering about the title, the word Maitri means Generous Compassion. ~“Maitri is like a mother’s tender love, but expressed toward all living beings, not just for one’s own biological child.”~

“The simplest acts of kindness,” said Mahatma Gandhi, “are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.”

 

Salisbury Pilgrimage

Salisbury has a massive cathedral. It has been a place of pilgrimage for the devout for centuries. It’s also home to the Magna Carta if you’re into your history. And the city itself is not far from Stonehenge, in case you like your monuments rectangular and ancient.

But none of that was of interest to me. I went there for the Terry Pratchett exhibition.

salisbury museum

I’ve been a Terry Pratchett fan for a long time now. I’ll be honest, I even shed a tear when the good man died on the 12th of March, 2015. But more than that, his books have been an inspiration for me in my own writing, showing me how to write engaging stories where no character could ever be considered to be incidental.

So when I heard that Salisbury Museum were holding a Terry Pratchett exhibition – Salisbury was Sir Terry’s home town – I knew I had to go check it out. I also like Salisbury a lot, so was glad of the excuse to go too.

keen

If you’re unfamiliar with the Discworld novels, they are a series of fun, funny, engaging and enlightening books that I would recommend to anyone. They are ostensibly fantasy novels, but don’t let that put you off. They are really just great stories about people going about their lives, trying to make sense of the world, a world that for them is a round disc flying through space on the backs of four giant elephants who are in turn stood on the back of a giant turtle.

great atuin and the disc

Sir Terry explains it better:

about the discworld

The books are great. If you don’t know them already I’d recommend giving them a go. But don’t start at the beginning. I know that’s counter-intuitive, but reading them chronologically is not necessary. And, to be honest, The Colour Of Magic isn’t the best one. For boys I’d recommend starting on Guards! Guards!, as it’s where the City watch stories begin. To me the best set of characters. For girls I’d suggest The Monstrous Regiment, a stand-alone book which is superbly written and features some strong female lead characters (something Sir Terry was particularly good at).

on having female leads

The exhibition was great. Lots of pictures by Paul Kidby, who illustrated most of the Discworld novels,

the librarian

plus a great number of artifacts belonging to the man himself, that give you just a hint of his character and wit.

terry's typewriter

terry's hat

The t-shirt, which he wore to conventions, reads:

“Tolkien’s dead. JK Rowling said no. Philip Pullman couldn’t make it. Hi I’m Terry Pratchett.” 😀

There’s a lot of love for Terry Pratchett and his work. He made you feel like a friend he had over for dinner. You’d laugh, cry, ponder and reflect together, always in a positive way, and always with tongue firmly in cheek. And at the end you’d feel like the world was a better place, if only for having someone like Sir Terry in it. I know that sounds schmaltzy but it’s true. Terry Pratchett was a friend to his readers, and they were all friends to him.

Don’t believe me? Just check out the love…

messages to terry

These are notes to and about Sir Terry, which the museum will pass on to his family. I wrote one too. Mine said:

Richard Stark taught me how to write.
Stephen King taught me how to write well.
Terry Pratchett taught me how I wanted to write.
An inspiration, now and forever.

They don’t all go on the wall. There wouldn’t be enough room for a start. There’s a postbox nearby where you can deposit your messages. In true discworld fashion, it has a monster living inside it. Can you see the eyes?

wizzard headstand

That’s me dressed as Rincewind BTW. You can do a bit of dress-up while you’re there too. The lovely staff lady who helped me do the headstand I wanted to do (below) suggested it. It’s tough doing a headstand in wizzard robes and a pointy hat, but I think I pulled it off.

My main reason for attending the exhibition was to check out the recreation of Sir Terry’s office. I wanted to get a feel for the man, and it seemed a good way to go about it.

terry prachett's desk

It was kinda special to see where the magic happened (or maybe didn’t, I can’t be sure. He apparently had several offices in his home, and could write in any of them), and I had to celebrate being there in the best way I know how, with a headstand.

80. terry prachett's office headstand

This is number eighty in the series. One day I’ll get to a hundred, but really, I’m in no rush.

I finished off my visit to Salisbury with lunch at the Cathedral Refectory. If you’re in town I thoroughly recommend it. The food is fantastic.

cathedral dinner

I got a lot of inspiration from my visit to the museum. It’s a great exhibition which I think everyone will enjoy, full of awesome artwork and amusing little tidbits from the man himself. In fact I’m going to conclude with one for all you aspiring authors out there. If you want to know how to be brilliant, you could a lot worse that this…

draft zero

Dunmanifestin

Lying on the sofa playing Candy Crush is the road to happiness. It must be, coz I ain’t happy, and yet that’s what I do a lot of the time.

ullswater bench

People talk a lot about manifestation. They talk about it in wooly, wishy-washy terms that make you want to go, “Oh for God’s sake.” But at the heart of all this imagining-your-life-how-you-want-it-to-be is a kernel if truth: If you don’t know what you want out of life how will you ever get it?

Case in point – As I have mentioned before, I have been focused recently on getting my novel finished, finding an agent, and getting it published. I did that to the exclusion of all other things. And it worked. I now have an agent, we have been working hard together over the past couple of months to get my manuscript ready for submission to publishers, and now we are just waiting to see if anyone has an interest in bringing my work to the world?

I couldn’t have done that without a clear vision of what I wanted, and then putting in the effort to make that happen. But did I ‘manifest’ it? Did I imagine it into being? Who can say.

I think too often the idea of manifesting gets caught up in magical thinking. People concentrate on the idea of visualising what you want, and ignore all the hard work and effort involved in making that dream a reality (which is the lion’s share of the work). You have to work for what you want. It’s not just going to materialise out of thin air. But to attain that house, career, realtionship, life, that you desire, you need a clear vision of what you want it to be.

manifestation

Like I said at the top of this post, I ain’t happy, and the only way to move from unhappiness to happiness is to know what you want that happiness to be. So here goes…

1. I want to wake up every morning, after a good night’s sleep, eager to see what the day has in store for me.

2. I want a literary career that brings in enough that I don’t have to worry about money.

3. I want enough time each day to practice my sadhana (do yoga, meditate).

4. I want to share that sadhana with other people.

5. I want a nice house, not massive, not small, that is mine all mine, with enough room to do whatever I want, and no one to tell me I can’t.

6. I want someone to share that house with.

7. I want a family (before I’m too old to take my kids trampolining).

8. I want a cat. I will name him Dexter.

9. I want less of a belly and more energy, but I also want to eat good food.

10. I want nice views.

11. I want to go interesting places, and do interesting things with interesting people; because what’s the point of having a nice home if you don’t get to go enjoy going away and then coming back to it every now and then?).

12. I want to not have to worry about the future.

13. I want to be happy.

14. I want to make other people happy too.

That, my friends, is a list!

But, it’s a wooly list. It’s a vague list. It’s a set of ideas. It’s not a plan of action. For me to make this list a reality, for me to manifest it, I need a plan.

So what does it boil down to? Well…

1. Good diet and exercise – I need to cook better food, get out more, and make more positive use of my time. No more lying around on the sofa. No more crisps and cake. No more watching TV!

Achieving this is fairly straight forward, but to achieve it I need to practice mindfulness in what I am doing. Bad habits are easy to fall into. Awareness is needed to avoid them. I need to meditate daily to help focus my mind.

2. A better working life – this is a bit more of a toughie. The job I do, and get paid well for, is not conducive to the life I want to lead. I basically get paid a lot of money to sit and watch TV for twelve hours a day. It makes writing, doing yoga, cooking even, very difficult. I need to find a way to make good money doing something more regular.

What I am likely to do here is actually the opposite of what I need; to work more over the next twelve months, make as much money as I can, so that I can pack it all in and try something new. That extra money will give me the breathing space I need to take a chance.

It might make writing more difficult, but for the moment, until I have a deal (which could take months, even a year), that’s not something I need to worry about. Once I know what is needed I can adjust accordingly.

3. A nice house – this is the biggie! Houses cost money. Lots and lots of money. And nice houses cost even more. There are two ways to tackle this: One, make a lot of money, then you can buy what you want. Or two, readjust the parameters on what you consider ‘nice’.

I’m lucky, I’m really into the self-build, tiny house idea. I think they’re brilliant. They’re also relatively cheap. The only drawback with them is, living in England, the planning laws are a bit more challenging than you would like. Finding a place to park it can be a bit difficult (but that is just an obstacle to be overcome). But that also feeds into the idea of where to live?

This is very much on my mind at the moment because I have to move house in six weeks time, and not only do I not know where to go, I don’t know where I want to go.

The dream is to be living in the countryside, with nice views, but I can’t afford that right now. To make money I need to be near London. But London is so expensive, living here eats away at your cash. Is it better to be further away, pay less rent, then come in to town to work? And if so where? And at what point does the cost of travel outweigh the savings in rent.

I don’t mind admitting I’m drawing a blank on this one at the moment. Do I get somewhere small for a year, save my cash, then move away? Or somewhere nice that costs a bit more and have a better quality of life? Gratification now, or gratification in the future. It’s a tough one to deal with. I’m open to ideas.

And that quandary feeds into the other major point that needs tackling…

4. A relationship – this is a tough one for me. I’m a bit shy. But it’s not going to rectify itself, and I ain’t getting any younger, so what’s the plan?

Basically, online dating. Seriously, I don’t get to meet people much through work (my job is unsocial and isolating), I don’t get to meet people much through yoga (yes I meet lots of lovely women, but often it’s just in passing, dating students is a big no-no, I can never tell if the women I do get to know like me, or if they’re just being really friendly as yogis often are, and like I said, I’m a bit too shy to just ask them out), and so online dating is probably the best way to go.

I’ve actually had some success with this in the past. It circumvents the shyness in that you both know why you’re there. You can bypass the awkwardness and just get down to business (if you’ll pardon the expression). It makes it a little easier; not a lot, but a little.

These are my thoughts on dating vs housing: I could stay in London where there are a lot of potential dates. But if I want a nice place to bring a someone to I’m going to have to fork out for that. I could move somewhere cheaper and more isolated, but I’m cutting down on date potential. I’d be happier, maybe, but finding someone special would be a bit harder, probably. Or would it?

Now we’re solidly into speculation territory. Y’know what, I think I’m going to stop there. Once the variables get too many then you’re not planning anymore, you’re just mental rambling, and that’s not helpful.

My point is you need a plan. You need a clear goal to get to where you’re going. Your path may change (and in fact undoubtably will) along the way, but as long as you remain clear on your vision you should get there in the end.

But just visualising won’t make it happen. You have to walk the path to get to where you want to be.

Well, those are my thoughts on the subject. I am open to comments, ideas, suggestions, etc. Please feel free to leave a comment below. And if you know of any cute girls who might be interested in a slightly care-worn but still working yogi, please do point them in my direction. I’d love to hear from them. 😉

Y’know what, I’ve posted this video before, but it bears repeating here…

Yoga Retreat At Mittersill, Austria

Boy did I need a vacation!

You don’t realise how much until you go on one. You think you know, but once you actually unwind, then you realise just how twisted up you actually were.

sonnberghof mittersill

I went on a wee yoga vacation with the Sivananda people, at the Sonnberghof Hotel in Mittersill, Austria. It was brilliant. I mean, for a start, just look at the view!

alpine views

And that’s just one direction. There were gorgeous views all over the place.

Normally my Austrian yoga vacations happen in Reith, but a couple of times a year the bio-hotel there closes down for holidays of their own, so some of the yogis decamp to Mittersill to run their retreats from there.

They have a nice yoga room,

yoga room at mittersill

and a nice wee meditation hall,

meditation room

for sadhana and satsang respectively. And in between the bouts of spiritual enlightenment the hotel has an outdoor pool,

outdoor pool

as well as a selection of sauna/steam rooms you can enjoy, with a nice lounge area for you to relax in.

spa lounge
 
swing chairs

The routine was the usual Sivananda one of satsang at 6:30am, yoga at 8:30am. Then lunch, followed by free time. Then yoga at 4pm, lunch at 6pm, and evening satsang at 7:30pm.

The luxury of being able to do yoga twice a day is always welcome. You really do feel the benefits of your practise that much quicker when you can dedicate your time wholly to it. Of course it helps if someone else is cooking the food and cleaning up after you.

The food was very good. The kitchen staff at the hotel seem to have really got their heads around cooking sattvic food. I had to limit myself. The tempation to eat way too much was quite high.

The teaching was awesome too. They do offer tailored yoga programs at Mittersill, but I was just there for a vacation. I learnt a lot as we did our sadhana, including some new exercises to incorporate into my yoga, and some new ways to correct people when I’m teaching too. All in all a very profitable vacation.

I even made a new friend while I was there…

making friends 2

If you’re looking for a yoga holiday I can recommend Mittersill. The combination of yoga and spa is an excellent one. I felt incredibly relaxed by the end of my stay, and of course I wish I could have stayed more.

Instead I flew back, drove to the Lake District, and did an epic hike to the top of Helvellyn, lol.

Helvellyn Headstand, Helvellyn, Cumbria, UK

Kind of undid some of my good work, but got another shot for my headstand series so, siwng and roundabouts, eh?

Back in London now, trying to keep on with my daily practise, see if I can’t keep the flexibility I earned in Austria. I also need to prepare myself for the Sadhana Intensive in August. It’s pretty full on by all accounts, and I need to be at the top of my game if I’m going to get the best out of it.

Do You Suffer?

I came across this recently on the Post Secret website.


Image copyright Frank Warren @ Post Secret

Now it may seem bleak, but atually what this person has stumbled across is the cornerstone of Buddhist philosophy.

“”I teach suffering, its origin, cessation and path. That’s all I teach”
~ Buddha

Buddha laid out the Four Noble Truths for us, so that we could understand what he meant.

1. We suffer.
2. We suffer because we desire.
3. We desire because we have attachment. We can rid ourselves of attachment.
4. This is how we rid ourselves of attachment.

That’s a very basic stating of what the Buddha meant, but you get the idea. (click this link for a more detailed explanation).

I strongly believe that the majority of pain and suffering we experience in life comes from the ideas in our head. We think that the buses should run on time, that our bosses should treat us fairly, that our partners must act in a certain way, and we become frustrated when things don’t happen the way we think they should.

If we could just learn to accept what is, to enjoy the unexpected highs, and react less to the sudden lows, our lives would be a great deal easier; and happier.

Om.