Let’s Talk About “Stupid”

I have friends who won’t use the word ‘stupid’. They see it as too negative, and so unhelpful in their spiritual growth.

They get upset if you describe something as stupid, they get very upset if you jokingly say something they have done is stupid, even if it is (some people don’t see a distinction between having a laugh with someone and making fun of them, which is exhausting); and, bizarrely, they even have a go at you if you describe yourself or something you have done as stupid (because it’s not ok for you to judge yourself negatively but it is ok for them to patronise you for some reason).

Personally I think all words were invented for a reason, and they all have their place. Yes, finding a positive way to look at things is a good thing to do, but sometimes no matter how hard we try we end up doing something stupid, and there’s no getting away from that.

my view of the satsang

A couple of weeks ago I was offered the chance to go to India for a month to help out on a Teacher’s Training Course. I said no.

I’ll pause for a moment to let that sink in…

I’m guessing most of you reading this would have jumped at the chance for what I believe would have been an expenses paid yoga ‘holiday’ in India. I know I’m starting to think I might have made a boo-boo.

So why did I say no?

For one thing, that was my knee-jerk reaction. Being asked to help out with the TTC was interesting. But then it turned out they wanted me to go to India, to do the technical side of things – sound mixing, lighting, etc. – and it was in a month’s time. Each new bit of information made it sound like a less and less attractive prospect. But why?

Taking each point as mentioned:

There’s an assumption that is you do yoga you have been to, or want to go to, India. I personally have very little interest in doing that. It’s just not on my radar. I have a big list of places I do want to go, and India isn’t one of them. If I’m going to spend my money it’ll be going places I want to go.

Though I do a technical job, I hate it. I just do. I mean, I know a lot of technical stuff, and I’m actually pretty good at it, but when it comes to what I like doing I err on the side of the creative. I like thinking, and making, and doing. Plugging in wires and adjusting sound levels is just boring.

I can do stuff at short notice, but going away for a month in a month’s time is a daunting prospect. I mean I have a flat, and work, and all kinds of stuff I want to be doing over here. To just up and leave so quickly is a bit mind-blowing.

And that’s another thing – money! Even if the flights, food and accommodation was taken care of, it still would have cost me £1000-1200. What with rent, bills, etc., plus the fact I wouldn’t be earning any money while I was away, I’d certainly be out of pocket by the end of it all.

But would it have been worth it?

As is natural, I started to second guess myself. Had I been too hasty? Perhaps I could have gone after all. I mean, it would have been an interesting experience. Most would give their right arm for such a chance. And I could certainly do with the holiday/sadhana time.

It’s hard to turn down what, on paper, is a good opportunity.

I started leaning towards the idea of going. I started persuading myself.

A few days later I contacted the swami to get some more details, but it turned out I was too late. They’d already found someone else. I wasn’t sure how I felt?

So I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Was I stupid to turn down such an opportunity? Should I have said yes straight away? Should I at least have thought about it for a while before saying no? The fact of the matter is, I don’t think so.

Sure, maybe I should have gotten some more info and then sat with it for a while, see how it felt, but my initial reaction was to say no, and if I wasn’t excited from the offset about going, if I had to persuade myself into saying yes, then I’m not the one for the job. It’s something for someone else to enjoy.

So, was I stupid in saying no? I was not. I didn’t really want to go, and besides, there’s a lot here I want to be doing instead. Stupid would be to not learn from the experience. To spend the next month doing nothing, instead of writing, or teaching, or getting on with one of the many other things I keep saying I want to do. To sit on my fat behind eating pizza and playing video games. Now that really would be stupid!

Money, Keys, Wallet, Travelcard

That was my personal mantra as I left the house for nearly fifteen years;

“Money, keys, wallet, travelcard.”

I can even tell you which pocket they all went in.

I’m flashing back to that now as I’m once more back in London. Actually, I’m kind of back back in London, as I got here a month ago, was here for two weeks, then went to Germany for two weeks to see my girlfriend.

But now I’m back in England for a while now, so I thought it was time for a bit of an update.

coming home 1

After Bali I did a week in Singapore. There’ll be a blog post about that, as there will be one about vegan food in Ubud, but since I expect the next few weeks to be relatively quiet, I’ll be doing them retrospectively to keep things interesting.

From Singapore I flew back to London when I spent a couple of weeks at a friend’s house, with a short side trip to move my things out of storage and up to my parent’s place (a trip that cost me nearly £1000 after the van I was driving got pranged along the way – I’m not happy about that).

coming home 2

Then I went to Germany for two weeks to see Lena. We had a nice time in and around Freiburg, culminating in a trip to Europa Park (also soon to be the subject of it’s own blog post).

Now I’m back in London, but only until the weekend when I go back to Carlisle to see about getting my car back on the road.

coming home 3

So what’s the situation right now? Well, I’m about £1500 in debt, with £500 in the bank. I’m trying to line up some freelance shifts at my old place of work, just six of which would wipe out the debt and put me in a much better position, but they are slow in coming, and anything I do now I won’t see the cash for for ages.

Plan A is to work freelance at my old profession, clearing debt and making money, whilst staying at Youth Hostels and using my car to get from place to place (storing my stuff in the boot).

Plan B, which I am implementing now on a short term basis, is to stay with my family for a while until Plan A kicks in. Not ideal as I’ll be a long way from London, but a lot cheaper than staying in hostels (and cheap is what I need).

Plan C. Should the freelancing thing not pan out, I could always spend some time working at the London Sivananda Centre. They’re keen for people at the moment apparently, and staying there wouldn’t cost me anything. Unfortunately it would also mean I couldn’t earn any money, as it would be like a full time job, so that would make it difficult to service my current debt.

Plan D – the last resort: Get a proper job. That means going back full time at the profession I am trying to get away from, to clear my debt and make some cash. This would also probably involve signing a contract on somewhere to live and staying there for a while, as I need some stability if I’m going to be working full time. But as you can tell, I do not want to do this. It would kind of negate the point of the whole big adventure/change in the first place.

But lets not concentrate on that. Lets look towards the ideal. To that end, I remain currently footloose and fancy free, on the look out for ways to make a bit of cash and places I can stay short term.

So if you’re in and around London, or anywhere in the UK for that matter, and you have a bit of work that needs doing, or are in need of a cat sitter for a while, just let me know. I am at your service. 🙂

And as for long long term…

I’ll be honest, I don’t know. I was very excited about the idea of living in New Zealand. But I realise that as long as there’s mountains and lakes I really don’t care where I am. Both Canada and Sweden would serve equally as well.

I still want to spend some time writing, see if I can make a go of that. And I would like to start teaching yoga on a regular basis, though until I am settled that could prove to be a little challenging.

Truth be told, I don’t know what I want just yet. There are too many imponderables, and my brain is taken up with the day to day of things for now, rather than the long term. But I promise, when I know, you’ll know. I can’t say fairer than that now can I? 😉

Yoga In Toodyay, WA

It’s all very well doing your at home yoga practice, but it’s nice to do it in a group, not only for the camaraderie, but also so there’s someone there to give you a bit of a push when you get lazy. So when I spotted the sign outside Toodyay IGA for yoga at the local community centre I jumped at the chance.

I went to the Friday morning class (two, as it happens, teaching on the second one!) and as I’ve already outlined previously, the morning of my first lesson was quite eventful already. By the time I got there I was in need of a bit of relaxation.

The teacher, Sally, who’s also a local Councillor, was very welcoming, even trying to get me to teach the class there and then once she found out I was qualified. But I was there to practice, so I got my bit of wall space and got ready.

It was quite a large group, mostly ladies with a bit of life experience, and the asanas were tailored to their level of stamina and flexibility. I actually found it very similar to some of the Yin Yoga classes I’ve attended.

That’s not to say it wasn’t challenging. My heart always fills with dread when the spread-legged forward bend is suggested. I can’t do it to save my life, and just sit there feeling silly and utterly inflexible.

It was a good class, and they very kindly invited me to tea afterwards, which was nice of them. We had a good natter, and I found out a lot of of gossip about people I have never and probably will never meet, lol.

the ladies of yoga

At Sally’s suggestion I turned up the next week with a lesson plan in hand. I was going to do a full Sivananda lesson, with chanting and everything, but with modified asanas more suitable to their level of experience. The ‘normal’ Sivananda lesson can be quite challenging, and I didn’t have the notes with me to be able to teach them a proper beginners class.

That’s not to say we didn’t do everything. There were forward bends, back bends, side bends, twists, inversions, breathing, chanting, and of course a proper final relaxation.

I’m glad to say they all did very well. Everyone had a good go at each posture, even the more difficult ones, and there were even a few smiles here and there, which is always a good sign.

They did better than me anyway. I messed up a bit, getting all lefty-righty during the Sun Salutations, and giving some wrong instruction for breathing during the neck exercises, but in the end I hadn’t broken anyone, and they all seemed good and relaxed, so I’m chalking that one up as a win, lol. 😉

Considering it was only my second ever time teaching yoga (don’t think I mentioned that to them at the time) it went very well. I didn’t make any major mistakes, and I only ran five minutes over time, but since we started late anyway I’m not counting that.

It was great experience, coming up with my own lesson plan, then adapting it as I went along, making allowances for both time and ability. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did, and I’m very grateful they allowed me to share this experience with them.

What they made of the fact that I started teaching in jeans, as I’d forgot my mat and yoga pants, I do not know. Or what my brother thought when he turned up with said mat and pants, to find me sat in a room full of people chanting the Gajananam, I can only imagine, hehehe. I guess it was a world of new experiences for everyone that morning.

At least nothing gave birth this time. That would have been something else!

God Is In The Details

It’s frustrating having to borrow a computer. I’ve got 15 mins to detail everything I’ve done in the past 10 days, and where to begin?

I taught my first lesson. It was just a short one, with 6 other TTCs as my students (in the hallway of the hotel as there wasn’t room anywhere else) but all things considered it went really well. Got lots of good, positive and constructive feedback, and I managed to remember nearly everything, which is a bit of a miracle.

We did the kriyas – yogic cleansing exercises today. You start off pouring salt water in one nostril and out the other, and end up vomiting great globs of water and swallowing lengths of cloths only to pull them back out your throat again. I have to admit, though I thried the nose based stuff, I drew the line at anything that got down to my stomach. I don’t care how good it’s meant to be for me, I ain’t vomiting for no man!

Though most of the food is vegan (except for the puddings) I did have to relent on one occassion and have a non-vegan main, as I was absolutely starving and the salad just wouldn’t do it for me. I’m not going to make a habit of it, I just needed the food. If you want to see what sort of stuff we’re eating check this out.

the yogic diet

Everyone’s got their aches and pains, and I’m no exception. Got a sharp pain at the top of my right thigh, inside at the front. Always had trouble with that leg, but this is something new. Just taking it easy for a while. Hopefully it’ll sort itself out.

Walking 10km into Kitzbuhnel didn’t help. Took me an hour and a half, but we had a day off and I had nothing else to do. Was a long, uninteresting journey (in the rain), but I did get to see this sign, which made me chuckle, so maybe it was worth it?

gute fahrt

No matter how yogic I get stuff like that will always make me laugh. Wait til you see the rosehip tea I found. 😉

So all in all it’s going good. We work hard – up at 5:30am, bed at about 10pm – but we get time to rest, 2 square meals a day, and just enough homework to keep us busy but not enough to rush us. When it’s sunny you’ll find us on the terrace,

apple on deck

and when it’s rainy I look out at the log cabins up the hill and dream about a comfy seat and roaring fire.

how would you like to live here?

It’s challenging, but compared to night shifts and office politics it’s the easiest thing in the world. 🙂