God's Little Acre

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Tibet, Where art thou?

Potala Palace

After downloading the new Mac version of Google Earth, I was interested to look up Tibet. Couldn't find it. "Lhasa Tibet", "Tibet China" - no joy. "Lasa China" found what I was looking for, well it's a place mark anyway. No real info though, hidden by Google to appease the Chinese authorities I suspect.

Tibet, Where art thou?

Help is at hand though. Thanks to the Google Earth Community though, I managed to find Tibet. I think it's sad that Google of all companies had to bow to China's search engine filtering requests and to compromising Google Earh too. Microsoft and Yahoo had already conceded to China, but I thought Google could take the right stance on this.

Lhasa, can you hear me?

If you are in Tibet, The former autonomous region of Tibet, Beijing or any where else in China, did you find this web-site/post ok? I would love to correspond with people from Tibet or China to find out how restricted information is on the Chinese Super Information Highway. Inquiring minds would love to know... Free Tibet?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Wu Chi

Kew Gardens

I have been a bit grumpy again, didn't bother to go to my new Yoga class yesterday, still not smoking though. So with a sort of heavy heart I approached my second Tai Chi lesson at the North Kingston centre.

Practice makes perfect

Fortunately my lack of gusto was soon dissolved by the gentle exercises of the Chi Kung 'warm-up' movements. The class environment always seems to give me the focus and discipline that I lack at home. The strange thing is that most of the movements are almost effort less.

Wu Chi Posture

John went to some length today about the Wu Chi posture. In a nutshell, feet shoulder width apart, slight bend to the knees, and a nice oval shape to your arms as they hang to your side. He also went on to demonstrate another move, similar to the Wu Chi but with your arms in front of you as if holding a beach ball. We held this position for about 5 minutes, at times this felt a lot longer. John said that the old Tai Chi masters would make their students hold this position for as long as they can. To use the bodies discomfort as a guide to any blockages. This is a great way to let go of any tension, and is one of the 'higher' postures too, so it really is good stuff.

Tai Chi in your life

We also were encouraged to carry our Tai Chi practice with us through the day. Sitting at my computer I am conscious of my posture, my feet are flat on the floor and I am completely grounded, dropped shoulders and deep breaths help put a little bit of Tai Chi into my computer work.

Computer Posture article

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tai Chi - Gate of life

Orchid

Yesterday - Yoga, Today - Tai Chi. It is all going upwards and forwards. I had my first Tai Chi class with John today. My fellow students and I enjoyed the workout. It's not really like a workout, it's like a standing meditation - my kind of exercise.

No Pain, All Gain

My brother joined a gym recently - the same one that sent the press images of Diana working out a few years ago. So as he is bench pressing, sweating and looking in mirrors, I had a somewhat less straining experience. My regime started with some gentle Chi Kung - energy or breath work. After about 20 minutes of Chi Kung, all the while being lectured by John, on why it is good for us and explaining the Chinese Medicine theory for it. We were gently introduced to some Tai Chi and shown the first part of the short Tai Chi form we are going to learn during the course of the next ten weeks.

Gate of Life

One thing that I learnt today is that the Chinese call the kidneys the "Gate of Life" and I will be paying much more attention to mine in the future, thanks to my new Tai Chi practice.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Yoga for Beginners

Yoga

"a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation."

The class started off well enough, my new Yogi, Eve explained that I should be OK in this class of women as Yoga was originally developed by men. I suspect that these "men" would have been a little bit more supple than me however. Apart from the bending and stretching, I reckon it might be quite an enjoyable excercise.

Not naturaly gifted...

I knew I would struggle at Yoga, I remember being uncomfortable sitting cross legged at school. As everyone around me moved with grace and poise, I quivered and shook as I went for new positions, often falling short of the optimum posture, but I was pleased just to be there and if I can stick at it, I may even become a Yogi too, well maybe not, but I might be able to touch my toes.

Not just a Yogi beginner

I also signed up for a Tai Chi Beginners class - which starts tomorrow, and a Classical Guitar class for beginners too. It's good to be a student again!

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Science of Enjoyment

Drunk

No, it's OK, I haven't slipped off my new diet/way-of-life. The above picture shows me knocking out some wicked riffs out of my air guitar in the Red Lion, Cropredy, New Years Eve. On closer inspection, notice the dark stains on my top, caused by spilling my Jack Daniels and Coke. Also notice to the right of the picture, my nephew Callum, learning some new tips from the master.

ARISE - Associates for Research Into the Science of Enjoyment

According to "Super Health Detox" by Michael van Straten.

"Believe it or not, in England there's a scientific body called ARISE. Some of their prestigious meetings include lavish dinners where many different wines are served with each course, and the diners eat foie gras, goose, chocolate pudding, cheese and petits fours. Then they are encouraged to enjoy a large Havana cigar with their port and the meal finishes with strong black coffee.

Appalling? No, because ARISE is an acronym for Associates for Research Into the Science of Enjoyment. Like me, it's members are inreasingly concerned that the 'food and health police' are creating a world where enjoyment and pleasure stand for sin and guilt."

I have since found out that maybe ARISE should maybe feel a little guilt, but I agree that a little 'blowout' is good. A little bit of what you fancy and variety is the spice of life are all regimes I now subscribe too. Sure, I have puritanically culled my need for nicotine, sugar and caffeine, find myself checking food packaging for salt levels. But I will not let this be a rod in my back to stop me enjoying myself or stop exploring some of life's more indulgent pleasures. I had a great take away Indian meal Saturday night!

Food makes you mental

According to the BBC, "Changes to diets over the last 50 years may be playing a key role in the rise of mental illness, a study says". All this prepackaged, heavily processed food we are so fond of may not be just bad for our figures. It would appear that it may be bad for our minds too. This is so true - my new healthy lifestyle was given a seal of approval by my friends daughter, she said I looked "all happy" when I went round a couple of days ago, and I was. Eat Raw - it works.

Drum Different Podcast

Chris Cooke has just uploaded a new edition of his Drum Different Podcast, which looks at "music as an avenue for political and social advocacy" and was launched to coincide with Martin Luther Kings birthday. It is well worth a listen.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

My free gym

I have joined a great gym. It gives my whole body a bit of a cardiovascular work out and is toning my arms and legs. My gym is about a mile away, and can be reached via the towpath of the River Thames. It is a nice walk, I love watching the ducks, geese and rowers on the river. The light reflecting off it is something else too.

Free Gym

Many of you will be surprised that Sainsburys is now a gym. Well of course this is not true, but I find it a good work out. A mile walk, then a bit of shopping. Then fill up my backpack and bags, for the march back. I get Free fresh air, Free views and I save the environment and save money by leaving my car at home.

Free Lithium

According to Sting, sunlight contains Lithium, so if you get a chance, get out in the sun for a free, natural high.

Free Music

I got the new GarageBand 3 yesterday and the GarageBand World Music Jam Pack. So I was up to 6:30 this morning, recording and writing this tune - World Jam, which is a apocalyptic view of the world. You can find more free world music mp3's here.

Learning to fly

Eagle

I am a million years away from meditation induced levitation, but I feel like I am making progress in my own way. Had a tough day yesterday, putting it down to the nicotine snake, trying to have one last bite out of me. So once again, it's all good, it is, what it is.

Tai Chi - A very short form

My Tai Chi practice has never got past about half way through the short form. I started learning Tai Chi with Sue Weston in Isleworth. But have never managed to learn the complete short form as Sue left for a years retreat in Holy Island before I reached my goal. I want to get back to my classes, but am enjoying remembering what I already know. Without thinking, more and more parts of the form are coming back to me. I find this really exciting and rewarding. My last few Tai Chi sessions have been quite hard, so as I am about to embark on my mornings practice, I am going to have a little meditation before some Chi Kung and Tai Chi

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mindful Practice

Bamboo

Still not smoking, but I got some strange pangs yesterday for 'ol nic-o-teen. I met an amazing person called Maurice a few years ago, who might have been holding the reason for these desires. I was standing outside my sisters shop, smoking a ciggie. When Maurice came up to me and started talking. He was an elderly gentleman, and started talking about everything, from the power of violet to nicotine. He produced a drawing of a nicotine worm or snake entwined through someone's body. It had quite a strong effect on me, and I reckon it's not too far from the truth. I am finding it a useful device now too, when I remember it. I must not forget that I am not out of the woods yet with regards to smoking.

Guru Violet

I have not seen Maurice since this first meeting - which lasted about 2 hours, but he was an amazing character. I don't think I have ever met anyone with such a complete education. He actually inspired the idea for Guru Violet too, (which I still haven't finished) Thank you Maurice!

Tai Chi Practice

I got up today at 6:30 and had a cup of hot water with lemon. Then got down to my Tai Chi. I had to work at it today, some-days I can just sort of let go and I am in the flow. Today, I had to gently keep reminding myself to not get distracted by work. I probably did too much work yesterday. Up at 5-am and still working at 10pm - that would explain my lack of focus today. I dug in with my practice though and had at least a few moments of bliss, and I know that even bad practice is good. It all counts, it all works together in the long run, like listening to "Stages of Meditation" by HH The Dalai Lama, which is now on constant play on my iPod. I find it hard to understand with my mind sometimes, but I know at least in some part of my soul, little seeds of good change are being planted. It's all good.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I feel good

Teddington Lock

Life is sweet. Got up at 5am! I feel alive and ready for a great day. I am even tempted to extend my 24 hour detox to a 48 big boy session. I started this morning with a nice cup of lemon and ginger tea, but I think I'll do the 48 hour or possibly the 3 day, "show me God" variety at another time.

What a difference a day makes

I am really looking forward to daybreak. I am gonna hot foot it to the banks of the Thames, and do a little Chi Kung and Tai Chi. I might even do some meditation too, which gets me thinking - hey, I haven't listened to Eckhart Tolle in a while...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Twenty-four hour cleansing

No, I am not having a bath! I am going to undertake Michael van Straten's twenty-four hour Cleansing for Health fast.

Today's Menu

  • on waking A large glass of hot water with a thick slice of organic unwaxed lemon
  • breakfast A large glass of hot water with a thick slice of organic unwaxed lemon
    A mug of ginger tea
  • mid-morning A large glass of hot water with a thick slice of organic unwaxed lemon
  • lunch A large glass of Tomato Juice and Celery Blend
    A mug of ginger tea
  • mid-afternoon A large glass of hot water with a thick slice of organic unwaxed lemon
  • supper Kiwi and Pineapple Juice
    A mug of ginger tea
  • evening Orange Juice and Almond Blend
  • bedtime A mug of camomile tea with a teaspoon of organic honey

Yummie

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Buddha made the tea

Free Tibet

Last night I recorded a demo of a new song, which I have decided to call Buddha made the tea. Inspired and influenced by my recent detox sessions. The vocals are a bit weak, but please feel free to grab the mp3 for your collection.

I feel good

Had a few pangs of nicotine withdrawal last night as I was making the tune, but managed to abate my desires with some water and of course some Yogi Tea. Phew, feeling good now, had a good breakfast and am about to go out and practice Tai Chi.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Super Health Detox

Today, is a better day. I woke up when Sue bought the post in - and I had a package! Unwrapping it, I thought Amazon had finally remembered to send a book, that I had forgotten that I had ordered. Inside was a book called "Super Health Detox" by Michael van Straten. I then realised that my beautiful Mum had sent me it as a gift!

A Super Book

I have only skimmed through a few pages so far, but this is a great book on the art of detox and so much more. I am sure it will be a great guide for my new healthy life.

Tai Chi for Breakfast

I am back in full Tai Chi mode now. It really is a wonderful jewel, a treasure of kindness to your mind, body and spirit. My new mantra, I found on the back of another book that my Mum brought me - "The Tibetan Art of Living" by Christopher Hansard. This is turning in to a fascinating read into the art of Tibetan medicine. I will explore more from both books at a later date, but my new mantra is It is better to live one day as a Tiger than a thousand years as a Sheep - I like this for all sorts of reasons and I love my Mum for many, many more!. Thanks Mum!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Just call me Mr. Grumpy

I did Tai Chi last night for the first time in a while. I did plan to do it outdoors, but the cold put me off a little. I find it hard to stay warm doing Tai Chi, it's not a sweating sort of sport. It is a Martial Art though and after only a few minutes play, I realised how much I miss her. I live in a rather compact flat, so I decided to practice in our kitchen, which is open to our living room. Eastenders was on the television, so I decided to put on my iPod, and chose "Jesi Tubchik" from an album called "Sacred Tibetan Chants From The Great Prayer Festival" which is full of wonderful Tibetan chants and put it on repeat.

Tai Chi iPod

I find non rhythmic music works best, when practising Tai Chi. So Tibetan chants are great, and after a while infuse your practice with their mystical, spiritual and karmic powers. OK, I know Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art and Mao has done his worst in order to stop "the opiate of the masses", especially in Tibet of all places. So maybe there is a little irony in using Tibetan music to help practice a Chinese art form, but I don't think so. I think they compliment each other really well.

Grumpy

I have had better days, I revelled in my dreadful, self-pitying mood today. Work was pants - everything was pants. I craved nicotine, but luckily managed to find the resolve not to cave in to the evil nicotine worm. My brother rang yesterday, he has damaged his liver through his fondness for alcohol. His days of drinking are over, and the doctor will only be able to determine how badly his liver is damaged after about three months of non-alcoholic life! Good luck Bro.... and I thought I had a crap day?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Tai Chi and Yogi Tea

My detox is still err detoxing. I am consuming gallons of Yogi Tea (Classic) with a little bit of organic honey, oh did I mention I don't do sugar now? Yep, it's history, gone the way of my nicotine sticks and caffeine beverages.

Yogi Tea - My Saviour

I have been a big fan of Golden Temple Yogi Tea since I first discovered it in a groovy cafe in Camden market a couple of years ago. I like the Classic (Cinnamon Spice) variety best, but in actual fact I haven't found any varieties I don't like.

Detox, a rip-off?

There was a report on ITV news a couple of days ago about how detox products are a waste of money, I agree-ish, but some things do make this type of thing a little easier - like Yogi Tea, I am not detoxing, in a pure, undiluted way. I am not consuming water and a bit of a lemon, on a 3 day fast (though I want to experience some mystic, fast-induced euphoria in the future). What I am doing is getting rid of some of the bad shit from my life.

Good Stuff

My good pal Rob featured one of my tunes on his latest podcast which I listened to today. Thanks Rob!

Tai Chi

I haven't done any Tai Chi for a while now, it's cold outside, but I am gonna brave it. Tai Chi really is a wonderful way of adding some balance and calm to your life - highly recommended, even when it's cold.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Cold Turkey

Still not smoking. Still fecking moody and irritable but I can feel my lungs coming alive again. Which is a bit worrying, as normally when I give up my lungs start feeling that they are full of tar, and I haven't hit that stage yet.

Last night Channel 4 showed "Cold Turkey" which follows Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and Sophie Anderton as they try to kick smoking. Various techniques were used: rapid-smoking, therapy etc. but my favourite is a nice cross section of a ex smoker's lungs - not very pretty as was a jar of tar. I must have been mad to start smoking.

More Bad Shit

Nazi Nutritionist Dr Gillian McKeith of "You are what you eat" fame compiled her top 12 bad things yesterday which was shown just before the Cold Turkey program.

Here is her list of bad shit

  • Smoking
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Pub Snacks - Crisps and Pork Scratchings
  • Processed Meat - Ham and Hot Dogs
  • White Bread
  • Fast Food and Takeaways
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Bad Fats - Biscuits and Chocolate
  • Fizzy Drinks

Bye Bye Caffeine

I have decided to banish caffeine from my life too - already getting headaches. The good news is that I am drinking lots of water, Yogi Tea (with honey) and am even more bad tempered...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I never said it would be easy

My non-smoking is going well. I have been able to say no to the evil weed for at least 24 hours now.

Hooray for Food!

One of the great things about giving up smoking is that you get your taste buds back. Now food tastes like food again, the tar must be shifting off my tongue and taste buds.

Hooray for Violence!

Mood swings and irritability are my new best friends. I keep telling my-self that it is just the nicotine starvation... but man I feel strangely violent... Deep breathing is helping and it's nice to be able to breath again! So I know it is just a matter of time before these pangs calm down. I will get back into Tai Chi again! Whenever I consistently practice and play Tai Chi my life is great... Till tomorrow then and Peace!

If you are playing along at home

If your getting a little tense, try some music. Here is a little calming mp3 tune for you to try and help you chill out. Come Down

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year?

I have decided to make a fresh start to 2006. I am saying good-bye to nicotine. I have decided that Marlboro Lights suck, hey, I decided that a long time ago, but I am feeling brave and optimistic about 2006.

Smoking is killing me. I smoke about 20 ciggies daily, well I did anyway, that is till today the 2nd of January 2006. Now I am a non smoker!

Why did I smoke?

I was a late developer from a smoking point of view. I didn't smoke properly till I was about 21. I reckon Ian Fleming may have ignited a spark in me when I was a kid. After seeing James Bond at the cinema, I was hooked. I started reading all of Flemings Bond books. Bond smoked. Also at round about the same time I developed an interest in motor racing. Marlboro must have made a big impression on me too.

Smoke on the Water

My first ever smoking experience though was in the Scouts. I was about 12 and we were sitting cross legged in a big circle round my Patrol Leaders house. The ceremonial spliff was passed around like a Native American peace pipe - while Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin blasted in the background. Don't know if I got stoned but it was several years later before I bought my first packet of fags.

Bye, Bye Fags

Today is my first day without a cigarette, well that's not true, I have given up lots of times - only to start again. Ok, today is my first day without a cigarette but with a blog!