Vanity’s rules of love

The geometry of bums and the thought that goes into them is astounding.

I was sitting at a table with two friends, a man and a woman. I had just had a health check and half joked that I was horrified by the fact that the scales showed I had gained weight. I was actually appalled and the man said, “I thought you would be more self accepting of who you are as you are.” My girlfriend and myself looked at each other with quizzical glances and broke out into laughter, “Nooooo,” I said, “it is quite possible for me to love all I am and still want for aesthetic, health and vanity reasons to lose the flab.”
He was a taken back, having known me for a while, honestly thought I was content with my body lot. My girlfriend concurred, while being a spiritual being, she is also human and very French. We share the glorious trait of healthy vanity and the desire to improve while still craving whatever it is we crave. The spiritual quest while in a human body is really a desire to fulfill our dominant value and that changes over time. A loss of money and resulting poverty could spur you on to work harder or to sink into despair. The gaining of weight could spur me on to greater cheese and biscuit tastings or to find a way to convince myself to exercise more and eat less.
Having life in a body means we can journey towards being humans evolving into better people, or not.
It is possible, as evidenced by my answer to my male friend, to host two contrary sentiments with no loss of inner integrity. Self love, self acceptance, if you must, and the desire to improve, change and evolve are not mutually exclusive. Acceptance implies at its depth a judgement that I am accepting something I formerly saw as unacceptable. Both no matter how well motivated are acts of ego and alienate me from myself and others. To change deeply is accompanied by self love that allows all possibilities.

I’m always right

The days I travel on the Sydney trains I usually enjoy. I have supplies, a bag with a novel, a fine black felt tipped pen and a small notebook. Yep I know it’s a bit, no, a lot, old school, but even though my bag also carries a with more memory that I will ever possess, I do not make notes in it or use the online diary supplied in the software, for that I have, this year, a blue paper diary.

I was set up on the train, feet planted resisting the ever present urge to cross my legs, bag on my lap and my book open on it. A young man sat down heavily beside me, so heavily I bounced up as he plonked down. The people piled on, some with suitcases; some with phones glued a few inches from their irradiated brains.

I was reading a book about the American civil war, the story of one preacher, his battles with himself and the course of the war. I looked up, a tall man was glaring in my direction. I thought, thank the gods this carriage is so crowded, why is he so angry? I realized that he was glaring at the plonker next to me. The glarer was a tall haughty looking man perhaps from Pakistan while the lad next to me was perhaps from Northern India, he was well dressed in dark grey and black.

I started to get interested as I was almost in the glarer’s direct gaze and that stream of attention was venomous. I looked at the men, one was definitely arrogant, angry and self-righteous, the other young thing sitting next to me was good looking surly, nervous and entitled.

The entitled one noticed the looks from Mr. Arrogance, and said, ”What do you think you’re looking at?”

“Do you know how many women you pushed aside to get to that seat?”
“How dare you speak to me like that!”

At this stage Master Entitled surged to his feet and faced up to Mr. Arrogance.

“What else have you gotta say arse hole?”

I could see the women in the carriage cringing, the inevitability of collateral damage looking good.

I let out a roar, a primal scream, a protest across the ages against the fear warring parties create. I would have none of it. Then I said in a voice designed to freeze dry balls, ”You sit down, and you shut up.”

They both had to be ordered twice, for gods sake. Master. Entitled came at me with his standard reply to challenge,” You can’t speak to me like that.”
“I have and I just did, sit the fuck down. You are both way outta line.”

Master Entitled sat down. Mr. Arrogance stood still looking, well still looking arrogant.

A few stops on Master Entitled rose and stood just a little too close to Mr. Arrogance meanwhile I glared at them both in turn, and Master Entitled left without incident or damage to himself or others.

Mr. Arrogance immediately attempted to justify his behavior to me. He started by saying, “Thank you for diffusing that situation.”

I mimed a zip-it sign, but he continued saying the man had pushed past many people to get to the seat and crime of crimes had pushed him, “And I hate to be touched.”

For heavens sake wars have been started for less and the two men, mirrors of each other, are like so many people fixed in their beliefs about how the world ought to be. They can’t see the self in the other, their standard reactions being anger, territorialism and aggression.

As Mr. Arrogance was leaving the train another guy appeared and he started to recruit this balding hipster on his team, and Mr. Hipster flexed his mental muscle and thoughtfully said, “Yeah man I wouda done the same thing.”

Mr. Arrogance left his hubris unaffected, having potentially with his hostility endangered the physical safety of fellow passengers, the very women he claimed to be defending.

“Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the most arrogant of all?”


Travel notes

This image has noting to do with the text just necessarily silly.

“For your own safety do not run at closing doors.” Not that I thought that was a good idea, in fact, it had never occurred to me, but there I stood and a disembodied voice at the local train station piped that through the air waves after announcing the arrival and departure of various commuter trains. The punters around me in this non peak time were far from launching themselves at anything. The mums in burkas pushing prams, the diminutive Chinese women carrying plastic bags of vegetables, the surly man who’s eyes were glued to his phone screen, the elderly man with his metal walking stick and the others trickling in and out of the station. There were no door runners in this motley crew.

I am in the burbs of Sydney brandishing my Opal travel card at touch screens and tapping my debit card at various retail counters. My head is heavy today as if I have a hangover, it’s probably a post travel thing, all night plane travel can have strange effects, almost hallucinatory. Well, frankly the effects, if they are effects, are at times alarming but mostly amusing. Small details  take on an odd importance. The hands of a fellow traveler, long restless fingers with chipped nails drumming on the plastic seat cover get to be sinister and malevolently annoying after five minutes. I concentrate on the passing scenes, factories, cars, little tiny people crossing roads anything to not look at the hands and the slightly asymmetrical  face sitting across the train from me. Yep, I’m tired and really annoyed at myself and Australian Government agencies who lost some of my documents resulting in my being in Australia to remedy their mistake.

I travelled from Cambodia partly because it is so hot there, at the moment, and I though Sydney would be a pleasant break in the bosom of my family. Yet I am restless, unoccupied and unsure about the dates of my return. I haven’t managed to feel really healthy, you know, vibrant and motivated in Oz yet. The day looms before me a humid and mild sunny offering at my feet. I’m waiting for a document to be delivered I’m waiting for inspiration to exercise my body and find a way to clear my head.

I stretch into yoga forms and contract hard to anchor myself into the ground, I follow a proscribed formula of movements and yes the head clears but I can’t bring myself to face the inane announcements and smile-less ambulatory movements of the local shopping centre, perhaps I will run at a door that’s closing and see what happens.


Winds from China

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There are massive storm fronts from China wondering down the east coast of the S.E. Asian peninsular and crossing Vietnam laden with rain, the north east monsoons.
The storms are erratic and uncharacteristically unpredictable. This morning a storm from the east erupted over Phnom Penh at 5:00am, the lightening flared and even with the curtains drawn the room I was sleeping in lit up, the windows rattled with thunder. I love a storm, I love the rain and I love the cool winds that keep the sky heavy with clouds and the temperatures down.

The barometric changes bounced about and my ears almost popped with the pressure changes. My joints cracked with the release of nitrogen as I stretched in bed still blinded by the white flare of light, ouch my knee felt stiff and my back cramped. The dawn came with the sound of rain drumming and the unholy roar of distant thunder.

It is winter, Cambodians walk about in hoodies and long sleeves and it’s still hot, go figure. Today I went to a walking meditation and as I walked I felt like a sweaty thief tip toeing about, it was only later that I realized I’d held my back stiff, as if I was on high alert, like a thief in a strange house. Somewhere inside me I realized that I often feel like an outsider, one of my greatest teachers said to me, “If you want to lead an extraordinary life do the opposite to the common man.“ Be alert, do not get into habitual behaviour that dulls your mind and lulls you into a sense of permanence, this too will change.


The little death

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The air was cool and moisture laden at the coffee shop. I sat and felt.

The rain came last night hard and soothing and still this morning the early light was accompanied by the drumming and dripping. My sheets felt silky. I stretched out luxuriating in the awareness that I didn’t have to get up for ages. I lay flat relaxing and gently formed spinal waves to lengthen my back and felt the rain sounds circulating through my body.
I have felt in the past that there are dead bits in my body, mainly in the posterior breathing apparatus, and today I could feel the muscles flaring with the inbreathe and staying wide as I exhaled. My left leg seemed to have disappeared and I felt into the place where I thought it might be and finally felt the warmth of blood and the slight tingle of circulation.
The rain stopped and my legs carried me happily to the coffee shop. A leaf fell into my lap, an old brown leathery leaf. I left the open leaf in my lap and drank coffee and water.
I looked at my lap about 10 minutes later, the leaf had curled up. Completely cut off from its source of life, its sap, it closed into itself. I thought about my leg and how it had not felt attached or even a part of my body. If I had ignored my non-leg it might have withered a bit, died a little. I was conscious of its defection to the land of Morpheus. It wasn’t numb, it just wasn’t anything.
I searched for it and found my leg and now it aches a little but the leg and hip feel open and free, if a tad uncomfortable. Maybe that is the price I pay, for now, for ignoring the drying of the sap, the dying of the light, at least in my leg. As I get older death gets more imminent. Death means to be cut off from the processes of life, maybe we take another energy form, maybe we don’t. As I looked at the curling leaf I stood and stretched my leg and opened to the moist air, to the forces of life to the process of my breath, my first and last contact with life. The inhale stimulates and drives expansion, the exhale sedates and allows contraction always the duality.


The Never Ending Now

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It’s Friday evening and after a fairly easy day in the hot air of Phnom Penh I have succumbed to the lure of a horizontal surface. I am counting the ways of senility, waking and  forgetting to shake my towel results in ant bites, hmmmmm. Reading a book on early onset Alzheimer’s has led me to lie in bed, sit in cafes and generally concern myself with attempting to remember things, recent things, like the names of actors in various films, the author of the book I’m reading, the whereabouts of small countries in Africa, the location of my glasses. The book “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova, has been made into a film with Juliette Moore and Alec Baldwin, I so wanted to write Alec Guinness, you know the guy who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars (1977) and a prince in Lawrence of Arabia. Now those memories run deep but ask me if I can remember yesterdays lunch, hmmmmm again.

“Still Alice” is a novel written by a neuroscientist about a devastating hereditary disease, early onset Alzheimers, and the gradual stripping away of the layers of memory, personality, language and relationships, all the things that we think of as generally making up significant aspects of ourselves. Word games, music, exercise, sports, good diet, hydration, warm communication and relationships all serve to give us meaning and train our bodies and minds all useless against this disease. It is a poignant and compelling read, thoughtful and strangely, a real page turner, even though I kinda knew the ending.

There is a branch of science called Biocentrism Robert Lanser talks about it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI_F4nOKDSM
Biocentrism suggests that everything we believe about reality is really not quite true and that reality is a continual construction brought about by the play of consciousness and energy. Sound something that a mystic might say, well guys get with the program science has finally stuck a toe into the waters of ecstatic awareness and quantum insight. As consciousness expands so does our world view, the opposite is most likely also true.

It’s the short term and luminous flow of now that percolate through my reality illuminating a moment. Like a water feature suddenly being turned off, and the quiet descending like a cool silk sheet or thoughts that are big enough stick to the memory creases of my mind, “The universe is probably expanding because all the information gathered from the myriad experiences of diverse living things needs more storage. God has a storage problem, and a dust problem, like any house wife.”

I caught a Tuk Tuk to the Orussay market today. A haven for those who lust after cheap clothes and roll upon roll of materials. Patterns, cottons, polyesters, velvets colours and the heat. A wizened women and I swapped heat gestures I attempted to say “Ktaw khlang nass.” It’s very hot. Now English take place mostly on the bottom of your mouth most words finish with the tongue on the bottom palate, where as Khmer all takes place at the roof of your mouth, its very nasal, with lots of diphthongeee double tones that are hard to hear let alone repeat.

The cloth seller’s mother or aunt or whatever she was, looked at me with the blank stare of incomprehension and then as I fanned she smiled and nodded. She said the phrase back to me, and then I to her, a crowd was gathering to watch this piece of performance language, I kl-anged and held the long vowel, howls of laughter, a chorus now corrected me and when they were satisfied I could say “Ktaw khlang nasa,” the laughter trickled to a finish the old aunty started to cough from laughing so much and there we were in a hot cloth stall me slapping her on the back and attempting to gather my purchases and find my horizontal moment.


It’s going to get weirder

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Things are getting strange in my world. Conversation overheard today:
“That Tracy is really getting herself together, no more vomit in her hair.”
“Yeah she’s really changed her look.”
“I wonder if she’ll be able to keep going, she really pushes herself.”
“I’m never sure about her.”
Let me put this in context. Two, barely out of adolescence, American girls with the grating voices of east coasters. I don’t think they realised how loud their conversation was. I was feeling delicate and needed AC and quiet so I moved but could still hear their snippets.
“Why do you think he took her off the road?”
“It must be a compulsion with him.” Giggles
“Does your father know?”
“Noooooo, the last time I saw him he looked at me and barked fist floor.”
“Really.”
“Yeah, then he said oh, hi Lisa, looked me straight in the face and said first floor. I said…Charming.”
“Bizarre.”

You can’t make this stuff up and here is another staged bit of stuff that has serious ramifications and is very funny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MubunsD-7g

On a more weird science note an experiment by Australian scientists has proven that what happens to particles in the past is only decided when they are observed and measured in the future. Until such time, reality is just an abstraction.
http://m.digitaljournal.com/science/experiment-shows-future-events-decide-what-happens-in-the-past/article/434829

So just as I thought it couldn’t get any weirder last night I dried my face and managed to get covered in tiny ants. Ants predictably, not only like honey, they like warm damp towels. A few spots around my eyes turned into a major closure, and the sharp little bites inflicted on me on all my soft places, and let me there are more of those than I’d like, turned into red itchy welts. Sleep, I did not. Today I walked about doing my stuff in sunglasses and covered up, to stop me slapping and scratching my legs and arms.

I decided to have a salad for lunch, and thought, as I listened to the above conversation, noting the dialogue as it was uttered, that I needed to wash my brain with some sort of cleansing balm. The salad came, I moved tables and ate the fish and greens thinking about the size of the immense universe so large it approaches infinity and the tiny expressions of life that make up the minutest parts of existence, so small they approach zero. And here I am sitting in the light spectrum a shadow of both. The lettuce crunched in my mouth, the avocado seemed tasty and smooth as usual. So, despite my weirdness, reality was an agreed upon café and each and each one of us was looking at the the room from a different place.

I wonder what the Yankee girls thought of the sunglassed blotchy woman with the humongous salad? A French man with a very entitled swagger asked for something, gesturing without eye contact or any pretence of courtesy. The waiter and I exchanged a look, our faces passive but a gleam in the waiter’s eye connected with me, and that moment was decided moments or eons before or after  was one of bemused amusement at the vicissitudes of men rather than an offended sweep of eyes heavenward in an equally possible response of judgemental disgust.

My body was wrapping itself around the salad with its mustard dressing, the hot strong coffee, challenging my liver, my welts abating and reality became manageable for a second. Then the heat of Phnom Penh and the dark interior of a Tuk Tuk whisked me away to my third shower and a brisk towel flapping exercise purging the devils and exposing my need for sleep and oblivion.


The Shadow of Rain

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It rained last night, a noisy rhythmic, tropical deluge drumming the rooftops and slapping the leaves into a fever. The moon hidden behind a lead sky has passed its delirious fullness and I was, at last still, and listening reaching into the sounds that make patterns and chaotic abstractions. I listening to the rain and heard its dark energy, the world filling with potential. The week before had a stripped bare rawness to it, people under stress revealing personality or personas that weren’t coherent with the shining face of day to day.

There is often a Pollyanna bent to peoples’ inclinations, where cognitive dissonance or denial of what is in front of them occurs. The dance of life lurches on around us and we play our parts surprising no one. Creative and brave acts are disregarded so we plough on in the mud. Why is it so difficult to treat ourselves as if we mattered? We mutter inside our heads a dialogue of criticism while exonerating the world.

A century ago a shadow was born, the unconscious that vast resource we all carry, our raw potential ignored. We tell ourselves we are good, okay at best, all the while guarding jealously the muttering doubts we have about ourselves, but the shadow will out and there it is in the grotesque that is the US Republican nominee, in Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s ruthless president, in the new British conservative PM Theresa May, in the corruption and rapacious avarice of SE Asian Governments, in Syrian atrocities. The shadow is out.

I had a dream, I was in a room lined with books, like a lawyers office. There was a presence in the room. I couldn’t see it so I asked, “Who are you?” The presence answered,”I am God.”
I asked, “What the fuck are you doing in my dream?” The presence answered, “I am the writer, the director and the audience. As a writer I like a happy ending and as an audience I like to surprise myself.”

The air this morning is saturated with moisture and cool, I’ve been listening to the music of Krom (Christopher Minko, Sophia Chamroeun and Sopheak Chamroeun) a Delta Blues group, based in Cambodia and at present nominated for a Grammy. They are the first group to be nominated from Cambodia. It gives me pause that such music captures a poignant longing in my soul for us to care for each other and as I listened to the evocative sounds of rain and to the music of Krom the shadow lifted and I realised the muttering critic was still.
https://www.youtube.com/user/themekongsessions


Looking up in Phnom Penh.

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Was looking up today as I walked around Phnom Penh. It wasn’t strictly wise, as pavements here are monstrous obstacle courses, tiled, slippery with rain, displaced by tree roots, used as cars and bike parking areas, they are often the final resting place of old wooden yellow house shrines and covered in dusty building detritus. No one walks on the pavements. The streets heave with activity, tuk tuks, motor bikes, big f… you sport utility vehicles (SUV’s, I’m personally not a fan of acronyms). Big black or silver SUV’s, tuks and millions of motor bikes driven by drivers who take the road rules and traffic lights as suggestions rather than rules of law. That attitude applies to building safety regulations. It horrifies me to see men welding with no eye or foot protection.

Anyway I was walking in mild heat under mostly grey sky. I knew it would rain soon, the air pressure was gathering gravitas. The juxtaposition of temple facades and modern edifices has a jarring quality in Phnom Penh given that planning permission is given willy nilly to the highest bidder and many of the modern building have a generic design quality to them. Yet many of the older buildings seemed festive today, verandahs sporting colourful bunting and brilliant scraps of blue sky carved into by elegant old roofs. The security guards lolling outside apartment gates, by mid morning have taken off their shoes and sleep propped against a wall, the heat and pressure increasing.

I guess my trust in my ability to navigate this treacherous terrain has improved. I walk with the rest of the population along the side of the roads, swivelling my head as I navigate to check for silent bikes, push carts of snacks and drinks, and motors of all descriptions. Navigating the air waves too with a dismissive wave of my right hand answering the incessant inquiry, “Tuk madam?” and the bewildering call, “Mobi?” Which translates as, “Does Madam want to take a motor bike to wherever she is going?” Rendered into the strange vernacular of the Khmer language, why use two or more syllables when one will do the trick?

It did rain, a gentle drumming on a blue roof, as I watched from a verandah the temple across the road darken from yellow to mustard and felt the air steam up into a sauna of heat. Thank the gods for iced water and shelter.


The Sounds of Health

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In the last few months in Phnom Penh I have saturated my self in subtle forms of energy healing. I have studied many forms of sound geometry and form, as it applies to human movement and consciousness. Every year that I have practiced yoga, learnt a new skill, such as swimming or Reiki, or healed an injury, I realise that this miracle, we experience as life, is unfathomably complex. So I seek immersion in the experience of life rather than in attempting to understand. I have reached a point where I can look chaos in the face and even if I can’t see it I know there is order and all I can bring to the party is good grace and love.

Over that last few months I have returned to my roots in yoga, Nāda yoga. My first experience of a state out of time and space occurred when I listened to the world’s sounds as abstract impressions and a synesthetic awareness of reality has informed my awareness ever after. Nāda yoga (नादयोग) is an ancient Indian metaphysical system. It is equally a philosophical system, a medicine and a form of yoga. Nāda yoga means “union through sound.” It is the ancient spiritual art and science of inner transformation through sound and tone. Meditation on sound is one universal path to Self Realization, accessible to anyone and appropriate for people of any religion or spiritual aspiration.

So this Tuesday coming, I am offering a relaxation and Nada yoga class or Sound Bath, I will play the crystal bowls tuned to 528Hz, you get to rest and experience. This frequency has an incredible quieting effect on your body and mind. The 528Hz frequency was used by Lennon to record the peace protest classic Imagine, among the most popular recordings of all time. I am privilege to be able to play a full set of crystal bowls in this so called love or miracle frequency. All hype aside the sounds are transcendent and uniquely available at Enso Healing Space.

Healing Phnom Penh