The night after the intensive Zen retreat


I just woke up as nothing.

From within sleep the void opened up again.

It was complete emptiness, nothingness, living death. Then their were golden sparks, golden fireworks. Fireworks of joy. Fireworks of joy, in the death nothingness.
joy, love, nothingness, joy, love nothingness.

Then flashes of white sheet lightening. flashes of everything. flashes of nothing. Light and dark alternating. I am everything, I am nothing.

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My experience of a four day intensive koan based zen retreat


I’ve just got back from Noddfa, Penmaenmawr, in North Wales where zenways were running an intensive Zen retreat over four days. The aim of the retreat was to trigger a Kensho, Satori, or enlightenment experience.

I’ve already had a number of such experiences but was simply curious to compare them.

I arrived at 3:30pm on the Thursday with plenty of time to acclimatize and prepare myself.

The retreat took place in a rather large and old building I can only describe as a mansion run by catholic nuns. They were such warm friendly people they made me feel instantly welcome. It was like being looked after by a group of loving grandmas.

The main core of the practice was group zansen. This involved sitting facing a partner knee to knee, gazing into each others eyes and posing the question of a chosen koan. As a beginner to zen my chosen koan was “who am I?” the question was posed as “tell me who you are?”

Each full day ran from 6:00am ‘till 11:pm, a rather rigorous schedule. Each turn was for 5 minutes completing a block of 40 minutes. The group Zensen sessions were broken up with 5 minute loo breaks, tea breaks, a sitting meditation, a walking mediation, three periods of chi gung and a dhamma talk.

I usually find intensive retreats exhausting. In this case because of the frequent breaks, inclusion of chi gung and plenty of food I didn’t find it exhausting as such , but it was extremely challenging. Spending three days almost solidly asking yourself and unanswerable question does drive you a bit mad. I guess that’s kinda the point.

I remember Thursday as “Who am I?”, “Who am I?”, “Who am I?” which brought up the thoughts of “What is going to happen?”, “Am I doing it right”, “How will I know, if I’m doing it right?” , “Why is nothing happening”

As I retired for bed on the first night the question “Who am I reverberated” around my head preventing me from getting any kind of quality unbroken sleep.
The Friday was the bad day, the tough day, the rough day. The day I would have quit if I was that kind of person.

“Who am I?”, “Who am I?”, “Who am I?”. and the thought came “why is everyone getting images and memories when I was not. OfCourse I knew the answer straight away. It was because my mind was already settled because of the years of mediation practice.

“Who am I?”, “Who am I?”, “Who am I?”. Fear started to build. And why was I afraid? I knew that too. It was because the ego (whatever the hell that is) was aware that the process I was doing was designed to kill it. Just as it had been ‘killed’ before at the aya retreat.

I tried to deal with the building fear as best as I could and remember the aya practive. Breath through it and surrender to the process.
As far as I’m aware I was the first person in the room to have a “funny turn”, “an episode”, “a thing”, I don’t know. I don’t know what a “thing” is. Although It was to turn that they would become increasingly common as the retreat wore on.

It started as always with the question. “Who am I?” But the question was answered. A voice inside my head said “equanimity”, “Allow things to be as they are”. Simply this meant don’t resist the fear, don’t chase the joy, be comfortable sitting with nothing.

At this point a joy hand grenade went off in my heart. This began to spread out in my chest. My abdomen began to fill up with energy, with pressure. I felt like I couldn’t breath. A trickle of cold liquid metal began to flow down from my sternum to my solar plexus. Then the shaking started. First my legs, then my arms, then my whole body joined in. I was having a body quake.
I remembered I’d had this experience before. This had happened to me one night after the pub whilst sat at my laptop. It was the feeling of an energy pressure building up and the feeling I was going to explode.

I believe the shaking is an automatic response the body sometimes does to release tension. It was fucking scary all the same. And then I laughed and cried, or laugh-cryed or cr-laughed. I was a crying, laughing, shaking thing. I must have looked like a crazy person.

The bell chimed and everyone left for lunch. I however laughed and cried and shook onwards into the dinner break. Eventually I scraped myself of the chair and wobbled ungainly towards the dining area. At first I was unable to eat any soup because the shakes were too bad. In the end I was able to eat by holding the spoon with one hand and my spoon hand with the other hand to control the shakes.
Eventually the shaking stopped. I’m assuming now that the laugh-crying was also an automated response from the body to purge emotion. I began to notice some similarities with the way my body responded in the aya retreat.

I continued to try and engage with the process and answer the question with all possible answers although I fully believed the question to be unanswerable.
That night I did sleep, rather well actually.

The following day I continued to answer “who am I?” with everything I knew it was not, everything I thought it could be and everything that came up in me.
40 people poured their heart out to me without me being able to respond in anyway. I realized that we all suffer, and we all suffer in the same way from the same fears.
The question came again. “who am I?” and another insight came. the voice said “ you are not in control” “ don’t try to be, it is pointless”

And the wibble attack happened again. But this one was more intense. The person sitting opposite me had been talking but I was so confused that I thought that it was me talking. When it was my time to try and speak I found that I didn’t know who I was. Truly, for a moment there was just nothing. So I just laugh-cried.
On the saturday the wibble attack happened and just stayed. The energy balloon in my abdomen inflated and then leaked out its contents to the rest of my body which act as a calming agent. I became calm and blissed out. Fluffy pink clouds, fluffy pink clouds.

I realized that the worst had passed. Friday was the day of boredom, frustration and feelings of futility. On saturday there was still fear, but the tranquility made it ok.
On the walking meditation I wanted to skip and play like a child, but I didn’t. “who am I “
Saturday Night I slept well again but the energy bubble didn’t disappear. It stayed with me.

On my first group zensen of Sunday it said “hello I’m still here!”
I started to sense that reality perhaps wasn’t quite how I’d left it.
I didn’t remember the room being this bright and colorful.
When I looked into my partners eyes his spectacles were overly sharp.
I remembered the shimmering blue lights in the bathroom of the night before. Was that real?
Was I disassociating? Depersonalizing? the room had a glowy indistinct unreality too it.
The areas of unfocuse seamed fragmented, as if they were slipping out of phase.
3D reality seamed composed of layers of 2d superimposed on one another.
I felt an invisible coloured layer of pink and green in front of my partner that I wasn’t seeing.
His face fragmented. There was just an eye within an impossible sharp spectacle window. The rest of his face lay in separate out of phase layers waiting to jumble into position if I needed to look at them.
Who invited Picasso to a Zen retreat? Was I tripping balls and where was the fox?
Was I going to see the elephant? Was I going to see the elephant god dammit?
I was on a knife edge, a boulder teetering. Was I going to break through to the other place?
But my mind didn’t want to let go.

I knew the solution. Equanimity. Forget mr. Picasso face, forget fear, let me break through.
But do you see the problem? “Let me” is a desire, and a desire is not equanimity, and no amount of trying not to try is not trying.
And that was the last group zansen. The retreat slowed down. No more mental black smithery. Smashing the ego with the hammer of the question and heating up in the energy of chi gung.
It was time for settling, for grounding, for integration.

Slowly reality returned and I was left disappointed in myself That despite engaging with the process and breathing through my fear , my mind was unable to fully let go.
I find myself wondering whether the aya ego death was a benefit in that I knew what my goal was, or an impediment because aiming for a target is desire and not equanimity.
Another few hours of “who am I?” and I would have broken though. Oh well.

As an experience goes it was up there with the Aya and the Vipassana.

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The most effective mechanisms for dealing with trauma


I said a while back that after my journey to discover the solution to emotional pain had concluded that I needed another challenge. and that I had decided that my next challenge was to discover ‘universal truth’ or I guess enlightenment if you wan to put it that way.

I have come to discover that these are not separate journeys but in fact part of the same continuum.

The path away from suffering and emotional pain, is exactly the same path as that the which eventually leads to ultimate truth.

I have described such mechanisms before but I am going to reiterate and update because I feel that its important knowledge to get out there.

So, as a distillation of 30 years of knowledge and direct experience I conclude that the most effective mechanisms for dealing with trauma/abuse are:

1) Ayahuasca
2) Meditation – Samatha (Concentration) + Vipassana (insight) or Mindfulness if you prefer the english translation
3) Performance – singing / dancing /acting / improv / comedy
4) Travelling
5) Yoga

In my experience therapy probably has a place somewhere on this list but id say that its not near the top in terms of timely effectiveness.

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About God


What God is. The word God is a label which describes all-encompassing everything, the full totality of the infinite timeless universe. God can be experienced by direct knowledge and experience. God is infinite timeless love.

What God is not. God is not the word that describes it, God is not concepts. God is not doctrine. God is not fear. God is not power and control.

Belief in God. To believe in a God is a concept. To not believe in God is also a concept. The true God is not the label that describes it. To believe in or not to believe in God are equally erroneous.

Proof of God. Everything simply exists as it does, its existence does not require belief. Nor does it require proof. Belief in God is not knowledge of God. This belief is an inaccurate non-provable concept.

The one true God. Wars fought over one god verses another are wars fought by the human ego protecting its belief. Accepting that God is a label to describe everything, there can be only one God as there cannot be two everythings.

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How my Ayahuasca experience has changed me


E=mc2 is misunderstood. It doesn’t mean that energy and matter are interchangeable. It means that energy IS matter. They coexist at the same time.

Humans at base level consciousness only perceive the world at the physical level. Presumably humans of the highest level of consciousness only perceive everything at the energetic level (I wouldn’t know) and humans rising in consciousness perceive the physical world and the energetic world simultaneously.

Ayahuasca elevates the consciousness you can perceive at a higher or the highest level of consciousness.

During this process I was aware that the shaman was walking among us but when I open my eyes her body was sat motionless somewhere completely different. So it appears that the human energy body can depart from and move independently of the physical body. This is something that I had believed to be nonsense.

Also during the ceremony I experienced negative energy depart the body of another. The vomit full of negative dirty energy was placed too close to me and I felt tainted and poisoned by it.
Our bodies are energy, our thoughts are energy, our emotions are energy, our memories are energy. Everything we ever do, everything we ever experience affects our physical body and our energy body.
Toxic thoughts, toxic emotions and toxic memories are all poisonous to both bodies.

Ayahuasca works on a physical level and an energetic level. It cleanses toxic thoughts, emotions and memories energetically which manifests at a physically level. I will be the first to admit that going into the ceremony I thought that this was nonsense, but coming out of it now there can be no doubt.

I understand now why people of higher consciousness are vegetarian. An animal slaughtered in a factory will have its energy body tainted with fear. When we eat its flesh not only are we combining animal energy with our own energy, which has its own complications, we are ingesting the energy of fear which is toxic to us and can manifest physically.

Ayahuasca takes a muddy filthy cloth and washes out all the dirt. It cleanses dirty and toxic energies.

Matter is understood to have definable physical boundaries, but am I correct that energy has not? If energy had definable boundaries would it not be matter? And so if we are physical bodies and energetic bodies at the same time, then those energetic bodies are just one singular energy body.

And so humans of base level consciousness perceive themselves as separate physical entities and those of higher levels of consciousness perceive that the energy body is just one energy body.
And this is the headfuck, of all the listening to discourses from Buddhist monks, tai chi teachers, martial arts instructors, meditation instructors, yogis, gurus and psychonauts over all these years, all their incomprehensible nonsense is suddenly not only true but makes sense.

I never ever thought in a million years that I would ever have a direct experience of that which I have been trying to wrap my mind around for the past 17 years.

Wow. Just wow.

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Humbled and in awe I gazed upon the face of god – my experience of a four day Ayahuasca retreat


A brief recap. I spent 30 years of my life trying to heal from emotional pain. Ultimately I was to be freed from this by my mediation practice. But, during my years of research into self help, actualization, healing and development there were two words that kept on cropping up again and again. Vipassana and ayahuasca. Vipassana was primary in my healing journey, but what was this Ayahuasca? Ayahuasca, Ayahuasca, Ayahuasca, the word kept on cropping up.

Upon investigation I discovered that Ayahuasca ceremonies can supposedly heal both PTSD and addiction. So I decided I had to give it a go. At that time my goal was to compare the efficacy of Ayahuasca with that of Vipassana, but as it would turn out, there is no comparison.

I arrived at the retreat on Friday night. I was welcomed in with warmth and compassion which went a long way to calm my trepidation. The people felt right. The location felt right. Over the years I have learned to trust my intuition so I knew that this was going to be right for me. Even on the journey there my heart said “you are going home”.

I set up my personal healing space. This consisted of a blanket on the ground and a sleeping bag and pillows, a vomit bucket, a toilet roll and bottles of water.

After the initial greeting the first order of business was a brief interview with the assistant shaman to ascertain whether my system was free from prescription medication or illicit drugs, that I hadn’t drunk any alcohol in the last two weeks, and that I had avoided processed meats and other Ayahuasca unfriendly foods foods for the previous two days. Luckily I was able to answered yes, as I has done my research and knew what was required of me. Apparently you aren’t meant to have sex a few days before a ceremony either, but I’m not sure that this was mentioned.

Next I was interviewed by the shaman. She asked about my mental health, previous traumas and if I had an intention for the ceremony. I mention wishing to investigate any residual pain and the desire to break my unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

There were to be three ceremonies over the course of the weekend, but I will only discuss one here for brevity.
The room had the alter at the front with the shaman and assistant shaman sat behind. Nine of us tessellated our blankets and pillows into the available space. The room glowed with candle light, incense and herbs protected us from inquisitive entities.

The ceremony was to begin.

One by one we were called up to sit beside the alter and kneel on a cushion whilst Rapèsito, a form of snuff, was blown into each of our nostrils. Basically this is like having pepper blown up your nose. The net effect is that your eyes, nose a throat burn like hell, you bottom lip begins to quiver and then you begin to drool sputum in uncomfortable amounts. After the initial unpleasantness dies down you are left with a feeling of calmness which pervades your entire body.

The nest stage was to drink a cup which appeared to be a cold brown herbal lemon drink.
And then it was the next bit. The scary bit. What was this stuff going to do to me?

I had read that Ayahuasca was the most unpleasant taste possible. Maybe I’m weird but I liked the taste. I was like a rather bitter exotic earthy thick coffee.

I lay on my blanket and waited,….and waited. Is it starting yet, is it starting yet? After fifty minutes nothing had happened so I went up for a second cup. Twenty minutes later I started to feel sick. I really hate nausea, I really do. If there was anything I could have done to avoid it I would have done. But it was just a case of sucking it up and getting on with it.

The nausea built and built and built and then pop there I go, bluurgh. And then it started, the ride was on. Too late to back out now. In the words of the matrix “Buckle your seat belt, Dorothy. Kansas is going bye-bye”

My vision filled with thousands of tiny little rings on a black background. They began to spiral inwards like a worm hole. Rainbow colours washed over them the change in pigments of cuttlefish skin. I told the rings that I loved myself on the advice of the shamen and the little rings shivered in delight and did a little dance for me. I think they beckoned me in. Come with us, come with us.

And then the circles changed to sequins, and the sequins changed to rhomboid scales. The shimmering scales grew in size and complexity. Then I was in a world of lego bricks. Coiling and sliding like snakes, or rotating like a clock work mechanism. A kaleidoscope mandala of lego bricks. And then a kaleidoscope medala of rpg dice.

And then donkey kongs face, and then clowns, fucking clowns, so many clowns. And then skulls. More skulls coming out of the mouth of skulls. And bones of a rib cage designed by giger himself.
Apes, clowns, skulls, apes, clowns, skulls. Hello subconscious. Nice to meet you.

End of level one. Level one complete.
Was that the end? No, no, oh no.

A little break perhaps, a little breather. Welcome to level two.

On a conveyor belt moving forwards whilst the scenery of excessively bright orange and yellow vertical columns enveloped me. I’m pretty sure there was some Celtic knot work in there somewhere. I was scared. This wasn’t fun. This wasn’t watching something on a screen. This was there, I was in it. A different reality, a different dimension. I had no reference points. I had no residual reality to hold on to. The advice of my shamen came to me. “I love myself, I am safe, don’t resist, go with it, breath.”

I kept trying but I was so afraid. I pushed on a little with that intent but I was so afraid. So very afraid.

End of level two. A god, oh god, oh god.

Welcome to level thee. Oh fuck, clowns again, why is it always fucking clowns?

I was in my own personal clown hell. The fear level hit night terror level. I’m not sure there is any higher than that. Big huge thick red vertical pipes, with white and back pipes. And black and white diamonds. And jesters. Fucking scary jesters. I cant handle this help, help, help. Is this what they call a bad trip I thought to myself? In wanted to push on but the fear was just too much. I opened my eyes and for the briefest of times I got a break from my personally designed hell.

Could things get any weirder? Oh yes.

The body started going “ bwouuur, bwouuur, bwouuur” It was either expelling something, or trying to expel something. “bwouuur, bwouuur, bwouuur” My voice took on an unnatural sound. To be frank it sounded demonic. “bwouuur, bwouuur, bwouuur” and then “bwaourgh, broaugh, bluuurgh, bwuer” and then the body vomited. It may just have been vomit, but right then at that moment, it was darkness, it was negativity , it was evil . It was casting out of something truly horrible from within me. From my perspective my bowl was almost full of vomit, but when I came to inspect it later there was almost nothing in it.
It was at this point that I completely lost control of my body. The body was sat cross legged rocking backwards and forwards and in circles. The arms jurked at twitched, almost like an ape scratching the fur on its arms. The head was shaking from side to side making the lips flaps making a bawewe, bawewe, bawewe sound. Then the voice started babbling unintelligibly. Basically I was acting full horror film possessed. But I have been reliably told that this was not what was happening.

Then suddenly I managed to regain enough control of my faculties to rush to the toilet and so a full on squirty, liquid bowl evacuation. Lovely. Thankyou legs. Without them it could have got very messy.
Then I sat down at started rocking and scratching and softly saying “ blu, bla, bla, bla, bla” over time this softened off.

Then the body was rolling around on the floor. I ended up kneeling with my head down on my arms. The shamen touched me on the back and told me I’d feel better if I vomited and that I should lay on my stomach. But I had other ideas. I didn’t feel like vomiting, I really didn’t want to be touched and I was quite comfortable in my current position. Eventually the utter horribleness passed and I collapsed on the floor and started wriggling and writhing. That was until I had to leg it again before pebble dashing the walls in korma sauce.

Reality was warping and shifting, the floor was tilting. My arms were phasing out of reality and getting delayed and catching up with themselves. I collapsed, exhausted.

And then it opened up.

Infinite diamond stars, of infinite sparkle, embedded in infinite velvet blackness.
At that moment I realized that all my experience in life up until this point were as a speck of dust to the universe. Not only the experiences I had had to date, but all the experiences I ever would have. In fact all the experiences of all humanity were infinitesimally small compared the beauty I beheld.
I laughed and cried in wonder. All My preconceptions were a joke, all the traumas and conflicts were a nothing. Everything I had experienced when compared to this ultimate beauty were so small as to be of no merit.

Who has seen what I have seen? Who have felt what I have felt?

Humbled and in awe I gazed upon the face of god.

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My experience of a 10 day silent Vipassana Mediation retreat

I arrived at the Dhamma Dipa Vipassana Meditation (S.N. Goenka) centre in Hereford early on Wednesday afternoon. After a short registration, coffee and a biscuit I checked out my room. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I had a single. My greatest fear of the 10 days is that I would be confronted by the need to cry but have no where private to retire to . Such is the shame attached to crying when you have been conditioned out of it.

On the first night I couldn’t sleep. Thoughts of fire breathing dragons, 90’s metal and past relationships bashed around the inside of my head like a tin can being booted down a dark alley.
Getting up at 4:00am and only eating meals at 6:30am and 11.00am everyday isn’t easy, but you get used to it.

Not having any stimulation and spending hours after hours bored out of your mind telling your brain to do something it doesn’t want to do isn’t easy, but you get used to it.
Sitting perfectly still, unable to move whist invisible torturers set about attacking your knee caps with blow torches and chisels is excruciatingly painful and almost impossible to tolerate, but you do, and eventually, if you don’t get up and leave the pain does. It is actually surprising what you can adapt to when you choose to.

Setting aside the spirituality and mysticism, the act alone of sitting immobile, bored out of you mind, in excruciating agony and yet remaining still is going to retrain your brain. Your threshold of what is unbearable simply moves, and that which is stressful accordingly stops being so.

Its amazing what sensory deprivation will do to the brain. You end up craving any kind of stimulation. My favorite pass time when not meditating became lying on my back wiggling my legs in the air looking for shapes in the clouds.

It really is quite disturbing how much one thinks of sex when mind is free of sensory input. I really get now why the sexes are split up for the duration of the retreat. I think even the glimpse of a feminine styled throw cushion would have sent me running off to seek seclusion.

Throughout the retreat I experienced both joy and misery; they both came and went as frequently as each other. On one occasion when mediating i was running around in the darkness of my own mind, screaming at the top of my voice, smashing my head through a window, slitting my own throat, choking my neighbor to death and destroying property with a sledge hammer.

On another occasion during meditation I feel into deep ecstasy, my mind become completely black and I disappeared. I was aware that something existed but I did not know what as i wasn’t there to witness it. Whatever it was that was still occurring were like distant muffled voices in a locked room some distance away. I wasn’t conscious or unconscious and i wasn’t a sleep. I can only presume that whatever the mediation was doing to my brain resulted in the release of some happy chemicals, the change in my brainwaves, and some areas of my brain to shut down.

This was in no way the full extent of my weird shit experiences. At the end of one meditation sitting someone walked past me and the air flow on my skin triggered a near orgasmic wave of pleasing electricity to ripple around the whole surface area of my body. We were told not to get attached to positive or negative sensory experiences so I came out of it, believe me I really didn’t want to.

Yet another time when meditating I had sensitized my mind to be able to follow my nerves around my body. I search around my own nervous system painting a map in my mind.

The easiest areas to flow my mind into were always my face, my palms and the bottom of my feet. Since i’ve been doing martial arts I’ve simply got used to fact that my palms are always going to be hot and buzzing with vibrational energy. As I zoomed around my body I managed to get my awareness into my teeth, my eye sockets, penetrate my arms and legs. I began to scan my awareness up and down my body like a laser. It felt like a beam of sunlight as it passed over me.

My vision began to flicker, and towards the top of my head began to glow white. As my awareness passed over my eyes there was blue flash. As my awareness passed over my palms and feet there was another blue flash. My hands and feet began to glow blue and pulse with a powerful pulsating energy.

Each time my awareness passed over them the blue energy spheres grew until eventually they over lapped, merged and then expanded to fill the whole of the body. At this point whatever it was that was scanning my body gave up and joined the party. From that moment onward, the whole of my sensory reality was simply a pulsating , throbbing warm fuzzy energy field. My vision was black apart from expanding and contracting splodges of yellow, pink and blue an psytrance VJ would have been proud of.

Wow, some party this. I was loving it. But where could I go from here? How could I scan if the scanner was gone? When I came out of this mediation I had a good old think about what had transpired. In the end no matter how beautiful the experience was I had to admit to myself that I was no longer practicing vipassana. I had followed the funky shit down the rabbit hole and had a wild party but I could no longer be said to be simply observing my experiences.

And so the next time the pleasant fuzzy vibration energy filled my whole body, I stopped the observer from joining the party. I remained objective. I realized, at least I think I did, that the lovely vibrational energy was pretty much flowing around the surface of my body. I hadn’t noticed that I wasn’t penetrating my body.

So, I tried to use my awareness to penetrate my torso. This was really quite difficult. Maybe my mind was not focused enough. I suddenly decided to see what would happen if I tried to ‘see’ my own heart. As I passed my awareness to my heart at first it seamed dark and impenetrable, but each time i tried to put my awareness there I got a slight urge to cry. Again and again I placed my awareness roughly around my heart or solar plexus and I got more and more upset. Eventually I moved on to other parts of the body. The interesting thing is that the next time I scanned my whole body, not only my eyes, feet and hands pulsed with blue/white light, but my heart did too. And every time my heart pulsed white I got a feeling of love and not of sorrow as I had done previously.

Ultimately after all of this mediation I do not feel that I had a strong spiritual experience, I do not feel that I had a overwhelmingly strong emotional experience. I certainly did not view objective reality, shout ‘everything is emptiness’ and realize that we are all one.

What I did experience was possibly the most prolonged periods of physical pain and deepest feelings of joy, peace and tranquility. As I leave the retreat I feel lighter, unburdened, calmer, stress free, sharp, focused and joyous, but I don’t feel any more spiritual or closer to having any of the answers to as to the true nature of reality or the universe.


I feel as if i have been split in two with the old me and the new me being able to gaze out through shared eyes and compare experiences.
Someone at work said something and I realized that historically it would have triggered a rant.

Someone did something and i realised that historically it would have triggered anger.

Someone else acted in a particular way and I remembered that it would have triggered anxiety.

I realized that I have always felt unsafe and that my mind created a construct of how I wanted my environment and the people in it to behave to allow me to feel safe. and if my environment and people didn’t conform to my imposed structure then I would use various levels of fear and anger to either escape from that reality or control it and try and make it conform to my expectations.
Sitting in silence for 100 hrs simply watching bodily sensations was simply brain training and using neuroplasticity to learn a new skill, the skill of being able to see things as they are.
For my whole life I haven’t been living in reality. I’ve been living in a projection of how I wanted everything to be and being constantly disappointed.
Perhaps this is the cause of anxiety and depression, well one of them atleast.

Today I was able to experience my environment and the people in it and accept for what it was. Doing so allowed me to feel at peace.

In all my past relationships I haven’t been in a relationship with those people as they really are, but rather in a relationship with my projection of who I desired them to be. Being constantly disappointed that they could never live up to my expectations.


If I am able to to feel my chest tightening and If I am able to feel my stomach constricting, . Then where am I?

If I am observing my bodily sensations, then I cannot be my body. If emotional pain and fear are felt in the body as sensations then who is feeling them?

If I’ve already established that I am not my body, and that emotional pain and fear impact on the body then they do not impact on me. So as long as i am able to see myself as the observer i am invulnerable to emotional pain and fear because it is not me that they are affecting.

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Munnar is a beautifully cool lush green paradise elevated from India’s usual insufferable heat.
I forgot this when riding my scooter to the top of a mountain one morning around dawn.
It gets pretty darn chilly up there!


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Holi at Hampi

To day is hoi. So I guess that makes it holi-day. I wasn’t there to celebrate Holi. I was there to photography other people celebrating Hoil. Trying to avoid being sprayed with permanent carcinogenic dye and powered paint would have been futile.
Some people seamed to end up with perfectly symmetrical complimentary colours making them wonderful photographic subjects. The locals however decided that dark green was my colour so I very soon began to look like the incredible hulk. Very fetching.
It seamed obvious that the best shots were to be obtained from in front of the crowed, from within the crowd or above the crowd. I however found myself behind the crowd.
I faced an interesting dilemma. I had decided to use a 50mm lens for its flexibility, but if I was going to get good shots I was going to have to get ‘stuck in’. Getting stuck in would have risked the camera getting wet.
The majority of other photographers had been sensible and were shooting from withing side plastic bags. I however was not. Instead I relied on my cat like reactions.
If powder came my way I pointed the lens down and cupped the lens with my palm. If water came my way I span around using my back as a shield and stooped bringing my arms in to afford as much protection as possible.
Having to be careful, meant that the amount of high energy action shots I could take was fairly limited, but I have yet to see the results of my efforts. Ideally i would have liked the 70-200 f2.8 and an ultra wide.
After 3 hrs I became weary and decided that I wished to return to the guest house to shower. However the crowd was blocking the road and I couldn’t get the scooter through so I was stuck.
Eventually after waiting for what seamed like an eternity I decided to run the gauntlet. The locals took great pleasure I showering the scooter with permanent dark blue and purple dye, which I have just discovered has bonded with the white paintwork and cannot be removed. I have yet to find out whether the scooter owner will try and fine me. I’m not sure how I can be held accountable to other people vandalizing the scooter with permanent dye, but I’m sure I’ll find out.


Posted in Festivals and Music, Travel


After arriving at Hampi I set off to find my guest house. I checked the sat nav and to my disappointment it read 45 mins walk away. Ouch. I couldn’t get a tuk tuk as I only had 50r in change.
I did enquire as to the cost but I was advised by someone I can only describe as a ‘wanker’ that it 600 rupees but I should pay in dollars as locals use rupees, tourist pay in dollars.
So I said fuck it and walked. It might have been ‘a bit’ unsensible considering the heat, the distance, and the weight I was carrying, but it wasn’t ‘very’ unsensible because I had water, suncream and a sat nav :-)
Anyway as i waked through Hampi I was blown away by its beauty. I have got into the habit of expecting to be disappointed, but in truth all of the reviews of Hampi’s beauty don’t prepare you for the reality. It is a true paradise.
Upon reaching my guest house I discovered that I’m staying in a mud hut with a bambo roof. This isn’t a bad thing but it has an authenticity and character to it. I could probably do with out the cockroaches though. I still have a month before I need to get to kolkata, so I pretty much immediately decided to extend my stay from 4 nights to 7.
Time to do some landscape photography and chill in a place in India that IS actually nice. Well blow me ;-)
I’m going to need to hire a scooter to sus out this place. Turns out that although the guest house is 35 mins walk from the town, its only about 5 minutes walk from the prime photo locations that I’m going to be want to be visiting at dawn. So everything all worked out in the end. Bloody hell ;-)

It turns out that Hampi is a chilled out place. It has to be because of the heat. Apparently the thing to do is get stuff out of the way in the morning, hide away from the heat between 1pm and 4pm then get more shit done in the late afternoon, early evening. Suits me.
At some point today I decided to do some high altitude landscapes from the innocuously named ‘sunset point’, or more accurately Mathanga hill. From the name sunset point I imagined (which was obviously my first mistake as its the expectations thing again a gentle road to the top, with american teenagers making out in 60′s automobiles.
I had to take the scooter from my guest house to the local town, park up, hop across the river on the boulders. Climb the steps, go through the market and then look for the big fuck off pile of rocks. By this point I was beginning to think that I had miscalculated time. I reckoned it’d take me about 45 mins to get to the top and there was about 30 mins of sun left.
So I flagged down a tuk tuk and said “take me to the top of that” I thought I was getting a great deal at 50 rupees. However I he drove me to the bottom of the steps which took about 60 secs. I guess he saved me about 5 mins walk. Oh well I paid him his money and set off.
The steps were huge curbs of granite which had been wedged in place. They were not flat, not equally spaced and not easy to climb. And as for me and my imaginary roads, ha!
I raced up the steps stopping every 5 minutes for a water break and mini heart attack. As I got higher and higher something inside of me suddenly reminded me “I don’t like heights.” This hasn’t been a problem for a while, I had almost begun to think that my fear was cured, but oh no.
Eventually I got to within about 10-20 meters of the summit and noticed that the steps stopped. Instead the was one huge boulder right on the edge of a huge drop that someone had kindly etched out some shallow foot holes. I think my words to myself were ” you godda be fucking kinding right?”
I firmly decided that I was going no further. After a few minutes rest I realized why I was not letting myself proceed. It wasn’t the fear of hights, it was that I was weak at the knees with exertion, dehydrated, shaking with fear and had a huge camera bag.
So not proceeding at the point was completely rational, not irrational. Eventually my heart rate slowed down. I drank some water ,had a breather and thought “fuck it”
There were no hand holds, no rails , no nothing. So I did it. very slowly and very shakily.
I reached to top and i’d loved to say I felt exhilarated and like a hero for challenging my fear.
The truth is that I felt so sick with fear that I wanted to vomit. I tried to take photos but I couldn’t hold the camera straight because my hands were shaking so much.
I couldn’t relax at the top and calm down because I knew that I had to go through it again but in reverse.
I took a few photos and hung around to just before sunset, but didn’t stay for it to completely go down. It felt more of a survival priority to have more light on my decent then to watch another pretty sun set.
I descended on my bum shaking like a leaf. The two kids that had been selling water on the summit offered to help me which was nice of them, but I needed to do it on my own.
Needless to say i survived. All I had to do to get home was a cross the river again but in the dark which was fun (not). Luckily I had a torch. An then drive the scooter for kilometers of stony sand track in the complete dark avoiding other vehicles, which usually would have terrified me in its own right if I wasn’t so fecking relief not to be stuck on a boulder hill in the dark!

Today after Holi I decided to risk another sunset point. This time it was the one at Anjanhalli.
What is it they say about assumptions? Well I assumed that sunset points on Google maps meant at least they had a path leading too them.
I asked some random guy where the path was and he burst out laughing saying “You make your own path”
Bloody hell not again. So this cluster of huge boulders was rather smaller than the last one so I was less afraid of the height, but I wasn’t about to set of into the Hampi boulderscape with out a least a trail to follow.
So eventually I found what looked like it could possible be a trail and followed it. Got lost, started again, found another trail which seamed more promising. Eventually I got to what I thought was the top.
As sunset approached more and more people appeared. In hindsight I should have just waited at the car park for people to turn up and followed them. Ah well we live and learn.
I also realized that these young energetic people that obviously weren’t phased by heights one jot were higher up then me. There was another level up.
It couldn’t be that hard could it? Technically it probably wasn’t that difficult but it did involved jumping from one fuck off massive boulder to another fuck off massive boulder with a deadly drop between them.
The gaps were only a meter i reckon, but a meter starts to look a lot bigger depending on the size of the drop. The worse thing was that cursed voice in my head “what if my back foot slips as Im pushing off to jump?”. As i made this jump I started feeling scared and sick again and just said to myself “no, no, no more heights, enough is enough”
The chasm, jump looked even more scary on the way back because you were jumping a ‘v’ shape and the sides were steeper on the return. As I thought about doing it I felt myself beginning to panic, and started to believe that I could not do it, At that moment I just did it, because I had realized that thought was my enemy.
The journey down was a lot easier than the decent because I had others to follow. From now on I’m staying low down, unless there’s a road, a path, steps or a helpful Sherpa.
Today Tristán White and Sharon payed me a flying visit at my guest house in Sanapur. I went with them to see some cave paintings. After this we parted company. They are on their way back to Goa and then home. I am on my lonesome again. Thanks again you guys for keeping me company in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Anjuna and Hampi.
On my way back from Anegundi I stop of to climb up to Anja matha temple (Hanuman temple)
I remember someone saying “575 steps, I’m not doing that”. My internal dialogue however was saying “575 steps, steps?, its got steps!!! ” :-)
It really wasn’t too hard, but then again I adopted the intelligent mature persons method of climbing the steps . I.e a 30 second break every 50 steps and a 1 minute break every 100 steps. Its not like it was a race of anything.
The view was just breath taking, awe inspiring, beautiful and magical. Yes, all of them. Its worth the over description. Luckily for me someone had put little cement walkaways in between the boulders, so I didn’t have to worry about jumping chasms or heights on this one.
I hung around long enough for golden hour but I couldn’t be bothered with the sunset. I think I’m all sunsetted out after the last two days.


Posted in Travel