A Short Essay on Mindfulness….

Hi Bloggers,

Mindfulness. It’s a word that gets tossed about and if you go to any magazine shelf in your local pharmacy you will probably see at least one publication with a title that speaks to mindfulness.

This by no means will be a scientific discussion, or an expert psycological opinion. I’m just a guy who lives like you do, with all the stresses and hopes and dreams and embarrassments, and all that other bullshit. I promise to ‘keep it real.’

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How did I first come across this topic? I was doing a business coaching session, and was lucky enough to be put into contact with a lady who practiced meditation twice daily since she was injured and used it for pain management twenty years ago. The coaching was supposed to be about business, and teams, and all that other shit but honestly I just wanted to talk about the things going on in my life, because that’s what I needed at the time, and she was very gracious in being open to talk about all sorts of stuff.

So I thank her, because she gave me a gift. Why? Because for my whole life I have suffered from anxiety. Sometimes crippling anxiety. Sometimes it affected my work, my relationships, my ability to enjoy ‘just being’. The triggers, cause and effect, or particular experiences are not for public discussion, and so I won’t go into them here…

So getting to the bottom line, meditation, and mindfulness freed me from my own internal anxiety ‘engine’. You cannot begin to understand how important that was for my life. I would describe it like this: before practicing meditation, my anxiety levels would fluctuate, and could be any where between zero, and say, absolutely panic ridden, in a particular timeframe, depending on the situation and the activity that I was engaged in.

After meditating regularly, I found that it had generally two effects: one being that my anxiety ‘levels’ were generally much better regulated, and two, that if I had a moment, the severity would be generally less. Think of it as one of those seismic meters, and if you drew a line over which was a peak threshold for comfort to panic, I found that I don’t reach that line much anymore, ever.

But there was other tangible benefits also. Specifically, those migraines that plagued my existence every 3-4 weeks forever dissipated. Typically I would have a decent one every month, and be bed ridden for 24 hours every 3 months. They have all but disappeared. I still get headaches. Any migraine sufferer will tell you, there’s a big difference! Also, moods in general are better moderated – particularly getting angry or wanting to lash out.

But it’s not a magic pill. I still spend plenty of time dealing with internal dialogue/life challenges and I dwell on unhealthy things, and yes, sometimes I might have a patch of anxiety here or there. But I will say, that I would never go back to where I was, ever.

Ok, if you’re thinking ‘sounds great, but I don’t get into buddhas and yoga and shit’ or ‘I don’t have the time for that’, I think you may be really missing out. It is a discipline. It does take some time. I suggest a session of about 10 minutes 3-4 times per week. Don’t let a bunch of new wave ideas, or complicated concepts put you off.

It’s this simple:

Stop. Sit or lie down. Quiet space is best. Just be. Don’t fight your thoughts. Allow them to come up. Allow them to pass. Be here, now. Don’t be preoccupied by your dinner plans, or late rent payment. Just be, here, now. Focus on the breath is a good way to remain present, here, now.

Sometimes things come up. Sometimes, you have to work through some stuff that you’ve been hanging on to. Be open to that experience.

I have found that even in my most turbulent or troubled times, I have NEVER come away from a meditation session feeling worse about an issue or person. I am almost always likely to come away with a greater sense of empathy, and be a little less judgemental.

There is a book called ‘Full Catastrophe Living’ by Dr Jon Cabot-Zin. I was referred to this book when I started and its a good reference. He pretty much wrapped up the medical benefits etc in his studies over the past 30 or 40 years.

Give it a go. Really! Good luck!

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Tonight’s hot yoga, and my dream of the buhddist temple.

Hi Bloggers,

Tonight I got down to the yoga studio for some hot power flow. Man, was it hot in there. The class was packed. It was one of those sessions where I sweated so much, and it was so hot, there were moments when I thought I would pass out rising to mountain pose after a flow or a fold.

I drank plenty. I remembered the conversation I had with a lady out front before class, just breath, lower your heart rate, and you won’t sweat so much. I’ve never heard such bullshit, but it kept me going.

When I was totally overheated. When I was sweating like a stuck pig. When I was wavering, I gave in to the yoga. Cause that’s what you gotta do.

And when you give in to the yoga, you let all your shit go. With the purge of sweat, there is a release of all the negative bullshit that you’ve been hanging on to for days, or weeks, or years.

And so, to my dream. I’ll keep it short… anyway, in a scene, I was holding, hugging my daughter. She was younger, maybe 4 years old. I was hugging her and holding her and there were other people there – like family friends. They saw me as a single dad, and I got the feeling they felt that I was ‘doing the best I could do’. It was beautiful, tangible. I could feel my daughters hug. In real life she lives about 12,000 miles away. 

In another scene I was inside a Buddhist temple. There were these pipes of metal but like brass up on the walls. There was something causing a vibration from a distance, and these pipes made a sound, almost like a chant from a monk. Then I was seated. I could see someone blew smoke rings. I sat and the smoke rings went over my face. I was left with the most surreal relaxed and content feeling I could imagine. I woke up feeling so calm, so at ease.

After I woke, I called my daughter and told her about my dream. It was really nice!

Yoga, sunshine, freezing weather, and the most important words an absent father can hear from his daughter…

Hi Bloggers, I’m writing this from a kind of make shift desk in my bedroom in my apartment. It’s an old building. There is a lot of stained wood – all the trimmings, a fireplace with mantel (the fire place is not functional), and wooden floorboards. I don’t know the age of the building, but I’m guessing it’s 100+ years old easy.

I sometimes think about the scenes that might have played out here. I’m told it was a doctors or lawyers office and more recently a quilt shop. Way back before any of that, it was a house occupied by some Loyalists (those who sided with the Brits) during the English/French territorial dispute in Eastern Canada.

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It’s been cold this weekend, like around -17C, with a wind that provides for a nasty wind chill. Walking around the city streets is frosty. I’ve lived in a lot colder, in Western Canada, but heck, -17C with a wind is fekin cold enough. The days are short. The nights are long and cold, and driving to work in the dark, feels like a grind.

So, along with the usual stuff that a guy going through a divorce deals with (money, lawyers, bills, etc), there’s been the usual life challenges. Not really important, other than to say sometimes its hard to see the bright side.

So I did my yoga on Saturday. I made it down for the 9am power flow class. It was good. I did not get really spiritual. I sweated a bunch, as usual. I’m nursing a shoulder pain so I was really testing the waters to see if it had settled down any. After class I showered and toweled off and got on with my day, which was just, hmph. I did get a swim in which was pretty decent.

So I was in bed early this morning, and I felt pretty terrible. Headache, a little nauseous. I had some tums to settle things down. I was not in a great place. Then the phone rang…

It was my ex. She said my daughter wanted to say something to me.

At this point, I felt pretty crap. I was expecting a spray, a bunch of blame, and other stuff like that, because it has been sort of normal. I have tried talking with my kids every week or so, and it has been exhausting, because often they don’t want to talk to me. That’s difficult because they live almost exactly on the other side of the planet. I don’t get to see them. Ever.

But then, as I listened, and she was upset, she said something I didn’t expect. She said “Daddy, I love you, and I miss your hugs”.

I – went – to – pieces. I sobbed. Like in the way that an almost 44 year old man who hears these words for the first time in at least two years, can sob.

I told her that I loved her too, and I want to move forward and develop the relationship. I told her that I have been heartbroken because my children have rejected me. They have their reasons, I cannot argue any different. But none the less, I see dads taking kids to the movies, or at the mall, and I would love to have that opportunity again.

So its a new day, and the pain and anguish has been released just a bit from my battered heart. I’m ready to move forward. It’s always going to be challenging. My daughter gave me a gift. When I felt like giving up, when I felt that I am working as a zombie, with no purpose, she helped me remember what’s important. She allowed herself the opportunity for some forgiveness, and I hope that she is old enough to appreciate how special that is.

Namaste. Peace and love to all of my readers.

A good afternoon for a walk around the lake….

Hey Bloggers,

This afternoon I had a lovely walk around a medium sized lake on the north side of Fredericton. Conditions were almost perfect. No, actually, it was perfect. The afternoon sun filtered through the trees, a fresh snow fall had fallen on the lake, and there was practically no wind.

It was warm enough such that some of the snow and ice was melting. People were out with their kids, and their dogs, and snow shoeing and cross country skiing. Afternoons dont come much nicer that this!

Meanwhile, I changed my computer default language to french, so when I try to make a question mark, I get a É so, um, ok. That will explain some of the punctuation missing from this piece.

Tonight, Im cooking for friends. I have an Mexican couple who are sharing with me. I was thinking today how nice it is to be surrounded by people of the world. Here I am, an Australian, living in eastern Canada, speaking french (at least part of the time), and living with spanish speaking mexicans.

Seriously, based on this pair, and some of the other Mexicans that Ive met, Im thinking theres no need for a wall!

Ok no more politics!

 

Hot Yoga Conventional Wisdom

Hi Bloggers, I have a mild shoulder injury from some other sport that I was playing recently, so I’ve made an effort not to work out to hard. Its a minor irritation but I am concerned about it becoming a major issue so I have to stop myself from pushing to hard with the weights etc.

I got down to hot yoga yesterday. There is a session that is a lighter type of work out. The room is hot, like 40 C. There are a lot of stretches, a few flows, some balance poses, and some meditation/breathing exercises as well.

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I wore my grey powermesh hot shorts over my man thong. Totally comfortable in the hot conditions. I got myself a new cork lined yoga mat too. I have an issue with slippery surfaces. I can’t get the traction with my feet or hands. I can’t say that cork is a way better option. Once I get a bit of sweat up I have to use a towel for the traction.

I find static poses can be quite challenging. The effort required to hold a pose when your muscles are tiring can be as challenging as any big weights work out. I give kudos to a lot of the people who do yoga because its tough to hold some positions. But I also know that you get used to it and that strength improves with yoga conditioning.

Well into the session, the sweat is running from my body. I see myself in the mirror. Tattooed. Muscled. Sweaty. My tree pose is a bit wobbly. I can’t get the arms to interlink in eagle pose. I need to let my arms down after an extended warrior sequence.

At the end of the session, I am feeling hot and sweaty, yet energised. I complete the final Savasana, and as others ready to clear away their mats, I stay. After some time I find myself kneeling, legs folded down on my ankles. I take my hands to heart centre. I say a prayer. It’s more of a reflection/thank you statement than a prayer.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own ‘shit’. I find its a constant state of internal tug of war over what we think we are deserving of, what we should expect of or accept from others. I’d like to think that I have a truly balanced view in which I was not affected by my own thoughts, opinions and expectations, but that’s just total bullshit. The reality is that we should be saying where we are dissatisfied or uncomfortable, and we should also be ready to listen to others for what they have to say too. 

I am grateful for those who have helped me, grateful for my health and wellness, grateful to be alive. Mostly, just thankful. Very thankful.

Finding yourself, then losing yourself, then not really being sure….

Hi Bloggers, yah, as the title goes, this is probably going to be part coaching, part reflection and a healthy dose of bullshit. So here we go…

This year, as I mentioned earlier, has been a turn around year for me. It started very tentatively with a lot on the line and some major changes. I have made it successful so far, and will continue to do so. It’s all about attitude.Image result for finding yourself

One of the most liberating parts of my journey is that I have met and found people that have been very gracious, very kind, very understanding and empathetic. If the environment that I came from was one of judgement and criticism, it was enormously refreshing to discover that that is not the currency everywhere. I have been humbled by the way I have been treated when I set foot into the world.

So in my journey, I found a place in the world. I met new people. I was taken in, physically, spiritually, emotionally. I have been sheltered and nurtured. I have been listened to and heard. I have been given the opportunity to rebuild and heal. What a wonderful gift. I will always be grateful for this.

At a point, however, you ask yourself what your really important life values are. Are those in your world on the same page? Do they need to be? How much can you accept about the differences with others? Do you compromise your feelings to maintain harmony, or are you setting yourself up for a long term disappointment?

These are the thoughts that keep the hamster on the wheel in my mind lately. I recently heard from a friend, who referred me to the concept ‘if it’s not fuck yes, then it’s no’. Great concept I think. You could really whittle down the things in your life that are not ‘fuck yes’ and live in a very lean way. But for me, I think its a dangerous proposition, because, well, what if I’m not ‘fuck yes’ about something that is still very dear to me? Even in the ‘fuck yes’ philosophy it allows you time to gauge the situation, to adapt, to adjust, and to accept and decide.

If I said no to everything that wasn’t ‘fuck yes’, then I’d be really just limiting myself to um, I dunno, gym and yoga. Everything else is ‘ok yeah sort of fuck yes sometimes.’ But that’s life, right? It can’t be just a series of awesome experiences, like the bullshit some people post on fb.

I read somewhere else – something that probably popped up on insta or fb, it said something like ‘just let life happen,’ or words to that effect. I think that that is a good strategy, for now at least.

Having said that, here’s my outlook:

  • I’m saying no to negativity. If you want to be miserable, ok, that’s your prerogative. I will support where I can, but not at the expense of my health.
  • I am letting go of people who do not hold me dear. Unfortunately, this includes some of my flesh and blood. I will be here if and when they need me.
  • I will put myself first. I won’t do this at the expense of others, but where I have an option, I will consider myself first, and be affirmative in my choices.
  • I will continue to have an open heart and an open mind, because these are truly beautiful things.
  • I will be available to those who want my support, and value my input. I will share what I can with those who need my help.

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Hot Yoga, and other Manic Thoughts From the Yoga Mat

Hi Bloggers,

Been a while, eh?

Guess what? I’m not fucking dead yet! Whooo. Ok what a year. It has been a total turn around for me. 12 months ago, things were looking bleak, tentative, I was just holding on. My ex wife and kids moved back to Australia and I was embarking on a new life. Well, here I am, I am doing it, and generally speaking I pretty pretty darn good!

It’s had its challenges, no doubt about that. New job, new living situation, new friendships, its all part of the big experience. Life.

Ok, so today, I got myself down to the yoga studio for some –hot yoga– oh yeah! If you have read any of my blogs, you will know that I love hot yoga. It feeds the soul, quietens the mind, and works the body. It is spiritual. For me, it is about giving in to the pose, the position, the situation, the heat. Omg. The heat….

It wraps you like a warm blanket. It puts you in your place. It tells you to shut the fuck up, because for the next hour and ten, I own your arse. I sweat a lot. I drink a lot of water. If I haven’t been yoga-ing too much lately, I can’t hold the positions the way I want because my arms get sore, etc. I know things improve with conditioning, because that strength and conditioning returns. I do a lot of weights and swimming, but those are different uses of the muscles.

Ok, it wouldn’t be a blog from me if there wasn’t just a bit of um, ‘me’ in it. I did my hot yoga some time about 2 weeks ago, and I wore some heather grey cotton lycra bike shorts. Very comfortable, not for the shy, but gladly, that’s not me! Today, I wore some grey powermesh hot shorts, and a man thong under. They are mesh so they are a bit see through (ohhhhhhh), just a bit. That was awesome fun. Guess what? No one cares!

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Disclaimer – this is NOT me (I am way more built and handsome), but it could have been me in one of my many yoga pretzel poses. Oh, and my shorts are smaller and tighter, and grey and just a little opaque 😉

Yesterday I was working out in the gym, and a guy asked me where I got my black lycra hot shorts. He wanted to get some for himself! Right on. Wow. First time for everything, eh?

I just gotta be me.

So I’ve discovered something along the way. I talk to a lot of people. I talk to people everywhere. I’ve noticed that I find it easier to talk with men. Although at times I have thought that there can be a tension – a kind of macho chest thumping thing between guys, there is also a surprising amount of acceptance.

This has surprised me somewhat, because the reality is that I think I have spent too much time in the past not talking to men, because of my perception that they are potentially threatening, or unfriendly, or something else. What I have found is that most times, when you take the time to say hi to a stranger, they are willing to be friendly and chat. Very rewarding in itself.

I have lots more to discuss, but I don’t want to spoil you all by spilling my guts here at the moment.

Be kind, share the love. Happy holiday season.

Namaste.

Today’s Workout and Some Random Bullshit

Hi Bloggers,

Last night, it was Friday night. After a long work week, I was feeling pretty tired so when I got home I crashed for a solid two hours! Normally, I feel really groggy after a sleep like that but I was feeling recharged after my long nap so I got my fav pair of hot shorts on and jumped on my bike to ride up to the gym for my work out. IMG_0802

At about 8.30 pm on a Friday night, my gym is kind of quiet so that’s nice.

Here’s what I did in my workout. It was mostly biceps and triceps. They are small muscle groups, so normally, you can blast through this workout without taxing yourself too much!

Preacher curls on bench

Concentration curls with cable

Incline bench curls

Cable triceps

Cable rows

When I came home yesterday and parked my car, the sun was filtering through a very large tree in the yard at the back of where I live. There was very little breeze, and the temperature was perfect. It was a nice sunny day all day long. Totally awesome! I snapped this pic for you all. I hope we are going to have a couple of really nice days here in the Maritimes. IMG_0801

Still not dead yet! Checking in… and some thoughts on tonight’s meditation…

Hi Bloggers, it’s been a while eh? I guess my new life here in Eastern Canada keeps me busy many days, so I don’t stop so much and blog as much as I used to.

So I’m still learning French (Ca va bien?). It’s not a small project. Sometimes I feel like ‘I got this’ and other days It’s like I don’t know shit! It’s challenging and fun and inspiring and it gives me an interest in life that I can actually use, which is cool.See the source image

Other than that, still working out. Swimming, weights, riding my bike quite a bit now that the weather in New Brunswick has turned to ‘awesome’.

I meditated tonight after my workout. I didn’t really have a theme. It was a pretty rough couple of work days with problems galore. Nothing new really, just the on going challenges in life.

I realised, about 10 minutes into my meditation, that I have been holding on to some stuff. Some resentment, some frustration, some anger. I’ve been through a lot in the last couple of years, and some of it has pushed me to the edge.

What I realise is, and what I have realised several times before is, its up to me to let go of that stuff. I know this. Sometimes, we need a little reminder to ourselves.

Let it go.

Let. It. Go.

Breath.

Let it go.

ok. Good.

Let it go.

Hugs.

 

My First Anniversary of Blogging

Hi Bloggers, it has been a year since I started this crazy, occasionally scary, daring, stupid, emotional, regrettable, fun, inspiring, embarrassing, arousing, and sometimes baring roller coaster called “The Random Blog of Irreverent Thoughts.”

Ok, so the blogging itself wasn’t so scary etc. but life, during that time has had enormous ups and downs. There is no doubt about it, my life looks completely different today from when I started my blog.

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For this piece, I’m going to interview myself, as there is no one here to interview me, and in any case they aren’t about to write in my blog, so please, bear with me!

 

Mr Random: So why did you start?

Moi: Great question, thank you. I think I’ve always enjoyed writing. I read a book about a guy who started a blog – he was into building a fitness empire or whatever, that was never my thing. I just wanted to write and reach out to people. Also, it provided a kind of chronology, a semi public journal if you will, and in this I documented a lot of my most personal experiences.

Mr RanImage result for relationshipsdom: What motivates you?

Moi: Well, I have been inspired by a lot of great photo blogs, but for me, that would not have floated my boat on its own, I wanted a photographic, travel meets residential collection of stories, an erotic literary playground, a fitness room, relationship clinic, etc. Really, I just want to be me, and to be accepted by the world.

 

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Seems legit.

 

Mr Random: What have you learned?

Moi: Nothing. No, wait, um. For me, its a realisation that your blog can affect people, even if you didn’t ask them to read it, or preferred that they didn’t. I mean people close to you. If you are writing shit about latest handbags and your resort stay in Thailand, no one is going to be upset by that. If you write about stuff you’ve done and feelings that you have, and that doesn’t jive with those closest to you, be prepared to take some shit! 

Mr Random: All those pictures – what was that about?

Moi: Ok, this interview is getting sticky, who made up the questions, anyway? Ok, honestly, I’m an open book. That kind of means that I am proud of my body and a bit of a poser. I enjoy showing it off. There. It’s just the human body. People have enjoyed it in sculptures, film, theater, strip clubs and other seedy places. Let’s just celebrate being human.

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Can we just celebrate human sexuality and leave out the baggage?

 

Mr Random: What’s your favourite thing to blog about?

Moi: Well I like writing about everything. Photography, travel, sexuality, emotions, experience, animals, cooking. I’m a bit all over the shop.

Mr Random: Do you worry that your readership (as small as it is!) might be confused or even alienated by your apparent ability to genre jump?

Moi: Yes, sometimes, but also I find one dimensional blogs a bit sort of, one dimensional.

Mr Random: Any regrets?

Moi: No. This is me. It’s take it or leave it. Hopefully someone out there can appreciate the craziness and beauty in what I do. If not, then it’s a great outlet for me.

1 Year Anniversary Achievement