5 Lessons From Kung Fu Training

As my final days of training in the Tienmeng Kung Fu academy, in the hills of Shandong, China, come to a close, I’ve been reflecting on some key lessons that  I’ve picked up from my short, yet intense, time here.

And this is what I’ve come up with…

1. If you don’t have strength, use speed

The good news is it is possible to defend yourself against a 6 foot 5 inch monster built like a tank. How? The key is speed. A quick jab or flurry of jabs to the neck or balls, and it’s game over, monster man.

This teaching comes from the Wing Chun school of Kung Fu, which emphasises speed and efficiency over strength, especially in close combat situations. The story of the origins of Wing Chun is somewhat fairytale and epic.

It is said that a group of martial arts masters gathered to work out a super-efficient and effective martial arts style that could be taught quickly to the monks of the temple, because they were increasingly under threat from foreign invaders, local warlords, and bandits. After the local warlord heard of the meeting and new potential threat, he sent in his troops and wiped out all masters, except a female nun, who escaped. She took shelter in a nearby cave, where she continued to work on and develop this new style. After some time, a local village girl discovered this nun and, realizing her background as a martial arts master, sought her help in defeating a terrible man forcing her to marry him. The nun went to the man with a challenge; if this girl with whom he wanted to marry could defeat him in a hand to hand fight, she would not have to marry him. Laughing at the challenge, he accepted.

The nun then trained the girl in effective techniques, and when the time came for the duel, the girl had the man flat on his back in just a few seconds. This girl became the first student in the lineage of Wing Chun Kung Fu, which then got handed down from generation to generation, eventually reaching Bruce Lee many centuries later.

The full story is told in this video I recently recorded – check it out…

A well-trained wing chun martial artist can unleash around 8 punches per second! Wow!

 

2. Stretch every day

If you want more flexibility, it requires stretching every single day. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to this.

In a conversation with another student, who is a trained physiotherapist, it was revealed that it’s not the muscle that is tight; it’s the neuro-muscular receptors at the muscle that is registering “stress” and therefore telling the muscle to lock up for protection.

Therefore, the stretching is a way of teaching and re-programming the nervous system that it is “safe” and the muscle can be released.

 

3. Repetition, repetition, repetition

Whenever you learn a new movement, whatever it may be, there is an engaged mental “learning” process involved, which takes a lot of your attention. Then, after repeating the movement again and again, eventually it will get embedded into your system, and then the mind that was previously occupied with the learning process will be freed up and be able focus on other things.

If you want to get good at anything, repeat, repeat, repeat until it becomes a no-brainer.

 

4. All kinaesthetic training helps

This refers to the observation that all movement-based training contributes to other movement-based Kung fu in Chinatrainings. When I was 20, I practiced Capoeira for 4 years, yet I haven’t practiced it for 10 years. However, for some Kung Fu kicks, the capoeira training re-emerged without effort and gave my kicks a lot of unexpected power. It is the same with the yoga; some of the yoga training came up in my Qi Gong and so on.

Therefore, all physical, kinaesthetic training overlaps and will benefit all other forms of training. Therefore, training is never wasted, so keep building up your physical movement dynamics – It all helps.

 

5. A relaxed body helps qi, speed, power, memory, and learning

When you learn new things, if you can relax your body and mind, it’s much easier to pick things up. It also helps your Qi move more easily throughout your body, offering better blood circulation and overall body relaxation. In Kung Fu, you go from hard “active” movements, followed by soft relaxed movements. When both are present, the practice becomes powerful, yet relaxed. Explosive, yet controlled.

In this way, your practice becomes dynamic, yet nurturing. Moving from intensity to relaxation and back again repeatedly is one of the keys to good health and vitality.

 

 

I am seeing how this training is already carrying over and expressing itself into my yoga practice. There is a feeling that my yoga will naturally take on a more martial arts dynamic which I think is exciting and is  something that my students will likely see in the coming months!

So, if you are looking for a good “kick up the butt” to gain more flexibility, discipline, and feel more capable of defending yourself if any self-defense situation arose, then consider studying Kung Fu in China.

It’ll rock your world!

 

How to Reduce Stress and Get Your Zen on When Traveling

Do you enjoy travel?

Who doesn’t, right?

Do you get easily stressed or know someone who does when it comes to packing their bags and hitting the road?

No doubt, a bit of stress and excitement is part of the package – yet I thought I would share with you some tips & tricks I’ve picked up over the last few years that may help reduce any unnecessary stress or strain next time you hit the road.

With the surge in technology over the last 10 years, the way we travel, organize, make bookings and plan things has changed forever!

So, when fusing technology with a relaxed, steady and zen approach to travel, this is what I have discovered…

 

1. All you need is your passport, cash, and a credit card. Everything else is trivial and can be replaced.

Clean underpants and a pair of socks are also important but seriously, don’t sweat the small stuff. Learn to pack small, as it makes you more agile, flexible and free flowing on the road. Not having lots of clothes packed means you have the best excuse to buy new ones at the next location!

If you can’t carry your luggage for more than 30-40metres, you’re dragging a ball and socket around with you. Downsize or get rid of it!

 

 2. Airbnb.com is the New Face of Travel Accommodation

I simply love Airbnb.  You can get your own house, a private room in a local’s house or even share a room if you’re on a budget. You can even choose the exact suburb or location you want to stay. One of the main advantages is that you can connect with locals straight away. The whole thing just feels more authentic than staying in sterile hotel rooms with staff with whom are paid to put on a uniform and a happy face.  

It’s easy, it’s fast, it’s fun and it works!

I have only had great experiences with Airbnb, and I will continue to use it for years to come.

 

3. Ride a Bicycle!

If the location you’re in supports easy access to bicycles and bike paths – do it! Riding a bicycle is by far the best way to experience a new place. It gets your heart going, moves stagnation (from sitting on planes, etc.) and increases your appetite, so you get to enjoy the local food and wine even more!

 

 4. Attend a Local Yoga Class (even if not in English)

Travelling tightens up the body and causes it a bit of stress. New food, new air, new people, new everything. The body tends to get a bit shocked by it all, and one way to help it integrate and settle is to attend a local yoga class or two.

It provides a nice time and space to be with yourself and appreciate where you are on your journey.

If the class is not in English, please be extra careful, especially if you are a beginner. Do not push yourself. And how to tell if you are? If you hold your breath while attempting poses, this is a sign you’re trying too hard! Pull back a bit! Lie down flat on the mat if you feel inspired to do so. Remember – you are your own guru!

 

5. Walk slowly. Talk Less. Phone Less. Be Present.

Nothing is more powerful in this world than presence. Presence means not getting ready to “go into the next moment” or expecting the next Travel the worldmoment to be better than this moment. When you really “get that” a whole new world of appreciation and beauty opens up to you.

To support that space, walk with ease, reduce unnecessary chatter, use your phone only when needed, and take your time…

 

6. Over Planning Creates Rigidity

Always allow for at least 20% unplanned space.

When we over plan into the future, what we are really doing is trying to control our lives with an iron fist. Where is the fun in that? Allow yourself to be receptive to life and its guidance, however, to do that, you must allow for some space in your schedule.

 

7. Flight Planning

I’ve been using kayak.com and skyscanner.com for the last few years and have found it to be great at finding me affordable flights. Recently, I also discovered Google Flights, which I think has the potential to be even better as it offers up a map of the globe so you can see things more clearly.

 

8. Honor the Moon Cycles

Pay attention to the full and new moons as they come through. They naturally have a powerful effect on our emotional and psychological health.

During new moon periods, it’s always better to stay in and catch up on sleep.

Near full moon periods, it’s great to take advantage of the extra energy in the atmosphere and go out socializing and partying.

If you take heed of the natural moon cycles, it will support your journey in a healthy and sustainable way.

 

9. Take Time Out to Be By Yourself

Travelling can be intense, especially on relationships. Therefore, always allow yourself and others some space to go off by themselves now and then. Everyone needs time to integrate the big changes triggered by travelling.

 

10. Uber Car Transport Services

I think nearly everyone has heard of Uber, and there is a good reason ~ because it’s awesome! Service is great, price is good, and the ease at which to call a car and pay is next level. The taxi industry has simply dropped the ball on this one.

With Uber, you don’t need to fumble with cash in the car, as it’s all linked up to an account you set up online. To make a booking, just click a few buttons on your phone and a few minutes later, a fancy car will show up to take you where you need to go. All tracked with GPS so it’s impossible to get lost and it drastically increases safety.

*Please note, Uber is not available in all countries

 

 

Well, there you have it! 10 simple tips to help get your zen on for your next trip.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch.

 

Stay awesome and breathe!

You got this! ENJOY

 

 

 

3 Supplements I’m Always Packin’

I’ve been travelling a lot over the last three years…

One of the main teachings of travelling involves how to LET GO of any attachment to your “stuff”, as well as the ongoing practice of stripping away the non-essentials.

In regards to health, I have managed to identify my TOP 3 HEALTH SUPPLEMENTS that have proved the most essential.

I thought this list may be helpful to you, so that’s why I thought I’d share…

(Disclaimer – This information is not intended to replace advice and guidance from your preferred medical health practitioner. Just sayin’.)

Without further ado, let’s get into it…

 

1. Magnesium

Magnesium is my go-to for relaxation, body aches, pains or cramps, and body recovery after any intensive exercise. It is essentially a muscle relaxant and works wonders for helping with things like anxiety, insomnia, and even cravings. Before reaching for sleeping pills, try a good dose of magnesium in the evenings to help your body relax.

It is estimated that 80% of Americans are magnesium deficient. Deficiencies usually come from excessive stress and alcohol use. Common signs and symptoms include chocolate and sugar cravings, constipation, and an inability to relax.

 

2. Astragalus

This is my cold and flu or any sickness go-to. It’s a main ingredient used in many Chinese herbal medicine formulas. I used to be a big fan of Vitamin C, but I have found Astragalus trumps Vitamin C. If you have access to both, do both, but if it was one or the other, Astragalus wins every time.

Astragalus is a powerful immune system builder and has been proven to increase white blood cell count. It can be used to support the immune system and offer great support for recovering from any illness, including cancer (speak with your doctor about introducing Astragalus supplements).

You can buy it in combination formulas. However, I have found that it works its magic best on its own in a pure powder form (it’s a root), which makes it super affordable to buy and stock in your medicine cabinet.

 

3. Liver Tonic Herbs (Milk Thistle & Dandelion Root)

The liver is always working hard to keep the blood and body clean of toxins. It comes under even more stress when we are travelling, eating different foods or working harder than normal. It’s essential to keep the liver happy as it one of the first lines of defense for keeping the overall system happy and healthy.

To boost liver function and help it out, I always have “Liver Tonic Herbs” with me, which I take most days. You can use a “liver tonic” formula, or just go for the two best herbs that help the liver: dandelion root and/or milk thistle.

A trick is to take your liver herbs at night before you go to bed. This will give your liver a boost while you are asleep – one of the busiest times for the liver.

Signs that the liver is burdened are that it’s very hard to wake up in the mornings, constipation, easy to irritability, waking up sweating, and/or a very strong and unpleasant body odor. Signs of a happy liver include easy and early waking in the morning, a sense of flow and ease in life, good digestion, and daily bowel movements.

 

Bonus Supplement for Mental Health ~

4. Acetyl L Carnetine

This is an amino acid (a type of protein) that I discovered when I was looking into boosting brain health and focus.  This stuff is amazing!  While it clears brain fog and adds clarity, it also elevates mood and helps burn fat! It basically works by telling your body to burn up fat and send it to the nervous system (brain) to be used.

Generally, I wouldn’t recommend taking it at night, but rather take it any other time or to enhance any kind of performance. From studying for an exam, to writing a book or going to a yoga class, taking 1000mg of this stuff before your big moment will give you a boost of clarity and energy for the task. It is also worth trying for treating depression, lack of motivation, lethargy, memory loss, and loss of libido.

 

>> So, where is the best place to get supplements? <<

(Do I hear you ask….?)

 

My favorite place for getting supplements is online at Iherb.com. It’s super affordable, the range is huge, and the postal system is amazingly fast. (Bonus – If you want a $5 – $10 discount on your first order, use code “NKV748” during checkout).

 

Was that helpful?

Any questions, feel free to ask.

Blessings!

 

4 Myths About Intuition

1. Intuition is About Having Psychic Powers

I have noticed that a lot of books and articles that talk about intuition as having psychic abilities which involve seeing into the future.

To me, this is simply not true and not what intuition is about. Psychic abilities are something related to intuition but are not the intuition itself.

Intuition is not about seeing into the future or the past (which don’t really exist) it’s about being fully present and honouring the feelings and messages you get in the present.

 

>>> You don’t need to be psychic, you just need to be present. <<<

 

 

2. You Have to Visualize Lights and All Sorts of Things in Your Mind

Intuition comes from cleaning out all the imaginations, fantasies and clutter in the mind – not adding more to it.

While having wondrous and beautiful images in the mind sounds pleasant and may be pleasant to those people doing it for a few minutes, it just adds more content to the mind to chew on.

A better way to go about it, is to simply let all that stuff go, don’t “try” and do anything, don’t “try” and be intuitive or receive messages, just be open and allow it to happen without the “efforting.”

 

>>> Allow there to be space inside so that you can hear the messages clearly. Don’t clutter! <<<

 

Ram Dass Quote

 

3. Intuition Requires You to Focus Intensely on the Third Eye (Between the Eyebrows)

If intuition had a physical location then between the eyebrows would be it. But this does not mean you have to focus there to receive intuitive messages.

The very process of getting your mind and body in a receptive state is enough for the third eye to be automatically active of its own accord.

You don’t have to do anything special or undertake some mystical technique for the third eye to become active. Therefore, don’t worry about it or get caught up with the third eye teachings.

 

>>> It is more important to practice de-cluttering your mind so that space and the receptivity of body sensations is developed. <<<

 

 

4. Having Intuition Means that Your Life will Become Easy and No More Hard Work Will be Required

Having the ability to be intuitive can easily be over-glorified in the way that many people think that life will then become easy.

Insight comes when it comes, but for insight to be fully realized there may be many years of applied action ahead. It’s easy to have a vision of something grand and life-changing but it’s another thing to make it real.

Focus, wise action and perseverance will still be required to establish any real and lasting change.

 

>>> Sitting around talking about an intuitive insight or an idea for years without acting upon it is not true insight. <<<

 

 

Want more?

Online Course Now Available

5 Steps to Develop your Intuition by Michael Hetherington

Click Here to Learn More About the Online Video Course

 

 

16 Natural Ways to Reduce Jet Lag

Jet lag isn’t so fun, so any tips or tricks to help reduce its negative effects on the body and mind are worth exploring.

Jet lag comes about because of the disturbance to our inner biological rhythms.

The body’s myriad systems find it confusing and disorientating when we move through time zones and disrupt the cycles of light and dark.

Flying and travelling such vast distances in relatively short times puts the body under a great deal of stress. We have not had enough evolutionary time to adjust ourselves to the realities of air travel.

While we are unlikely to eliminate the effects of jet lag completely, we can reduce negative signs and symptoms with a few simple tips and tricks.

Here are 16 natural ways that I have researched and tried to help reduce jet lag.

 

Pre-flight (the day before)

1. Hydrate.
If you are hydrated at take-off, you will start your journey well and potentially reduce the after-effects of a long flight. I advise going to the chemist and getting a hydration formula or something similar. Have one or two hydration formula drinks the day before you travel. Avoid alcohol the day before.

2. Get quality snacks for the flight.
Avoid white bready stuff. Try and find protein sources like nuts, and for sweets, go for dried fruits.

3. Do at least a 30-minute yoga or stretch class.
(Try YouTube if you can’t manage to get to a class or studio.)

4. Do a strong resistance (weight) training session and/or go for a 30-minute run or jog the day before.
I find this practice helps a lot, because the day after any training session, the body wants to rest and repair. When we get on that plane, the body actually rejoices at the notion of sitting still and not doing much. This approach can really help people who (like me) have a tendency to feel stuck, with energy stagnating when on planes.

 

During the flight

5. Use ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones to reduce excessive auditory stress.

6. Try binaural beat audio mediations.
These can be really helpful, because they “massage” the brain and nervous system, helping it to adjust and relax. Putting on an eye mask and listening to binaural beat audio meditation at the time when you would normally be going to bed will help the body and brain to find states similar to sleep.

7. Keep hydrating, and avoid alcohol or coffee.
If you drink a glass of wine most nights, you may benefit from having just one glass of wine or beer to help you sleep and relax. If you do that, however, make the extra effort to hydrate by consuming another one or two hydration formulas, as well as having water close by.

8. Avoid white bread and white rice.

These have a tendency to fill us up, but they make our digestion sluggish, which can lead to constipation and discomfort. To keep your body feeling light and your digestion functioning well, avoid white bread, pasta and white rice.

9. Meditate.
Being stuck in a small seat, flying through the sky at 20,000 feet, is actually a good time to meditate. Meditation is neither exotic nor complex. All you do its close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Observe each breath come in and observe it go out. That is all.

10. Using essential oils like lavender, frankincense, rose, chamomile or vanilla can help us to relax and reduce stress on the nervous system.

Acupressure Points

11. Tap acupressure points at least once or twice during the flight to stimulate the energy moving through the meridians.
When the meridians are stimulated they will automatically work to reorganize themselves into a more balanced state. To trigger this reaction, all you have to do is tap the points 10-20 taps per point before moving on. Ideally do three rounds. The most common feeling after tapping acupressure points is a deep sighing breath, a more relaxed feeling in the body, and a steadier, calmer mind. Here is a picture of the main acupressure points. You simply tap the points with one hand moving from the top of the head to the rib cage or hand and then repeat 3 times.

 

After the Flight

12. When you’ve arrived at your destination, avoid sleeping in the morning if you can.
Wait till at least the afternoon to sleep. The closer you can get to sunset, the better – it will help the body to adjust to the new day and night cycles.

13. Hydrate again and eat wholesome foods.
Have another one or two hydration formulas to support the body’s efforts to find some balance once again. Providing it with the essentials, like quality water and a boost of key vitamins and minerals, will increase the speed at which the body can regain its balance.

14. Listen to 30 minutes of binaural beats or yoga nidra audio mediation.
20-30 minutes of resting while listening to binaural beats or yoga nidra is equivalent to 3-5 hours of deep sleep.

Restorative Yoga Pose15. Legs up the wall.
In yoga language it’s called “Viparita Karani”. It simply involves bringing your butt close to the wall, then rolling onto your back and sliding the legs go up the wall. You can adjust your distance from the wall to find help you find the sweet spot where you can settle and relax. Ideally stay for 10-20 minutes to gain the most benefit from this posture. It has a very powerful effect on all of the body’s systems and will naturally induce a relaxed state.

16. Go for a long walk or a 30-minute jog/run.
Nothing works better than a good walk or light run to shake off any residual feelings of being stuck in a small space with your energy becoming stagnant.

 

It is not necessary to follow all of these suggestions. I offer them to serve as a guide. Try introducing at least one or two new strategies to deal with jet lag, and eventually you will find the system that works best for you.

 

Happy Travels!

 

Super Reading 30 Day Challenge

I’m going to read at least 10 books and watch 20 TED talks in 30 days. I’m going to do a series of tests before and after to see what areas of my life have improved and what area’s haven’t.

I am testing the question:
Can reading lots of non-fiction books, in a variety of fields, automatically improve ones daily life, health, wealth, confidence & happiness?

2nd Week in Review

1st Week in Review

The Beginning

Start Date: Saturday 30/5/2015
Finish Date: Monday 29/6/2015

Results at the Beginning of the Challenge

Emotional Wellness Test (7cupsoftea.com)
1/21 depression (normal), 3/21 Anxiety (normal), 5/21 Stress (mild)

Stress test (Stress.org.uk)
5 – 25. Average to normal level of stress

General Knowledge Test with Timer (http://www.quizfactor.com)
8/20  2min 20sec (not great)

General Knowledge Test (Queendom.com)
73/100 (Fairly good)

IQ Test (free-iqtest.net)
121

IQ Test (brainmetrix.com)
75 (lots of math’s questions, ouch!)

Emotional Intelligence Test for Business (http://www.maetrix.com.au/)
self awareness 7/10, self management 7/10, social awareness 6/10, relationship management 6/10

Entrepreneur Aptitude Test (Psychologytoday.com)
64/100 (You generally have your eyes on the prize and you want to win the race. You aim fairly high and let little stand in your way.)

Happiness Test (psychologytoday.com)
38/100 (According to your responses, you are generally the type of person who believes in the goodness of humankind.)

Fitness IQ (psychologytoday.com)
50/100 (You’re standing just outside the ranks of “Fitness Guru”, so don’t stop now.)

Left Brain Right Brain Test (Queendom.com)
54/100 (slightly right brain) but balanced

Financial IQ test (http://www.moolanomy.com/)
10/92 (poor)

Health
Weight – 86kg
Heart Rate at Rest – 63 beats per minute
Blood pressure – ?
Comfortably Run 3.5km in 30mins

 

How to not end up in hospital after a Thai massage in Thailand

One of the first things I always do whenever I land in Southeast Asia is to find a good massage. As soon as you step out onto the streets that there are hundreds of massage shops, parlours and clinics looking to draw you in.

Over many years I have had some good, some OK, and some terrible experiences with these places all over Thailand, and other parts of Asia. Unfortunately, some of the bad experiences include my sister getting a broken sternum after a Thai massage therapist walked on her back, and when I had a massage therapist who painfully overworked an area around my ankle causing ligament damage, which left me limping in pain for 6 weeks.

I mention these things not to generate fear but to generate a sense of caution.

There are so many reasons to err on the side of caution when seeking out a massage in Thailand more so than in western countries simply because the industry is unregulated and therefore tends to attract all sorts of shop owners and workers, many desperate just to earn a meagre wage more so than having any real interest in the healing professions.

As a means to reduce risk and harm, I have put together a list of ways to help avoid ending up in hospital or acquiring an injury from an unskilled massage you may get while in Southeast Asia.

1. Pay More.

Some places drop their prices extremely low to entice foreigners through their doors. I have seen $4 for an hour massage which is super crazy. Such low prices generate alarm bells in my mind. The only ways they can offer such low prices are:

1. They undervalue their staff and pay them poorly;

2. The staff are not trained in any way; and

3. They are desperate and the business is not going well.

All of these reasons are a sure sign to stay away. Therefore, I always go to places that cost more than the local industry standards. In Thailand right now, it’s around 300 baht an hour for a massage, which is just over $10 AUD. I would be wiling to pay around 500 baht minimum, which is still very affordable ($17 AUD). These slightly higher prices usually indicate that the staff are paid better, the staff probably have had some training, it’s generally a better service and the business is so confident in their service that they don’t hesitate to charge a higher price.

2. Speak up if it hurts or it’s too strong.

If you ever find that the strength or pressure is too much on your body, don’t put up with it; say something! Keep your English simple and to the point, such as “not strong” is often enough. Don’t worry if it sounds rude, you’re paying money for the service and it’s your body and your health we are talking about here – your most precious and valuable asset!

3. Look for qualifications.

This is good in theory yet due to unregulated training in Thailand and all over Southeast Asia, it’s unlikely many people are qualified. However, it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye out for it. Last I heard, there was a Government association set up to oversee accredited courses; they are called The Union of Thai Traditional Medicine Society.

4. Look for therapists trained by or working alongside a westerner.

Having a westerner as part of the team or business usually, but not always, indicates a higher level of service and training. In Cambodia I came across a clinic operated by a French physiotherapist who clearly stated that he personally trained all of his massage staff. It is fair to say that it was some of the best massage treatments that I have ever received in Southeast Asia. The business is called “Samata Health and Wellness Studio.” (link is provided below)

5. Jump in, feet first.

If your unsure about the place you have selected or you have a medical condition, it is better to try a foot massage first. This will give you a chance to suss out the place, the massage therapists and it is also a very powerful way to treat the body as a whole.  A while ago, I asked a very experienced massage therapist when she would recommend a foot massage rather than a full-body Thai massage; she said – for chronic conditions, foot massages are better because they go deep into the body. For other more acute conditions, try Thai massage.

6. Word of mouth from expats.

It’s worth asking around or at least checking reviews and recommendations on the internet before walking into any massage shop. The best treatments I have received were usually from word of mouth referrals.

7. Blind massage therapists

In Southeast Asia there a lot of blind massage therapists around. They tend to be very skilled with their hands due to their acute sensitivity developed through their sense of touch. Blind massage therapists have a lot of experience because they tend to be taken into these kinds of professions from a very young age. As well as getting an awesome massage, you will also be supporting them and their families.

Here are a few places in Southeast Asia that I recommend:

Bangkok, Thailand – Centre Point Massage

Koh Phangan, Thailand – Siam Healing Centre

Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Samata Health and Wellness Studio

 

How to Feel and See Your Path More Clearly

I stumbled across the most remarkable thing the other day. In that moment of discovery, it completely blew me away. It was one of those moments when everything you have been studying, learning, and practicing comes together into a moment of pure seeing.

So… what was it?

The other day I was going through my belongings to throw away or donate items I wished to shed before I traveled overseas. I came across a deck of cards that were colourfully decorated with affirmations written on them from Louise Hay (a famous self-help author and speaker). Previously, affirmations have been a bit of a hit and miss for me over the years, finding that most of them just don’t seem “right” for some reason. To me, it seems more like wishful thinking than actual reality or truth. And having largely abandoned the whole “positive” thinking movement and opting for more of a raw experiential approach to life, which allows and accepts both the negative and positive aspects to come through, something happened that made me stop and reconsider a few things.

On that day, I was standing up reading a few of the affirmations in my hand, and I noticed for a few of them my body started to sway forward. This swaying is something I have been working with more intensely in the last six months or so. Briefly speaking, if your body sways forward when you think a specific thing or say certain words, it’s the Qi field around and through the body/mind saying “yes” or “this is true.” When the body sways backwards, however, it is an indicator that the body/mind are saying “no” or “this is not true.” (If you want to see the sway test in action, check out this 2 minute video I put up on YouTube)

 

I then came to a card that stated, “I am motivated by love.” As soon as I read that in my mind, I swayed backwards…. Yikes!

 

This immediately brought to my attention something I was not aware of. To be honest, I was totally rattled by it and have been sitting on it ever since. I can feel and sense this working its way through me.  I have been enquiring to myself, what am I motivated by? I have since come to formulate questions for myself such as, “What would love do?” which have been melting and moving me from the inside out.

What I realized in that moment is that we can quickly and easily bring to our awareness those things which we may not even be aware of. Once we become aware of it, that’s half, if not most, of the work. Just placing awareness onto things automatically sets the adjustments into motion. With a little extra contemplation and supportive energetic techniques, we can really shift ourselves into a new state of awareness.

Another profound realization was that it brings to our awareness what we have already successfully processed and worked through. For instance, if I read the statement, “I forgive myself and all those people who may have harmed me,” and if I swayed forward, this gives me a clear indicator as to a block or limitation that I have already come to peace with and overcome on my journey.

Bringing the powerful affirmations and statements together with energetic sway testing provides us a clear and powerful glimpse into our true inner state. It shows us where we have been, what we have successfully processed and where we are heading next. It is so simple, so eloquent, and so truthful.

Using these two practices together can save us a lot of confusion and time, for it gives us a clear picture as to where to place our attention in order to move through the next limitation of our conditioning.

 

So simple.

 

I recommend you give the sway test a try for yourself to start getting the “feeling” of a yes or no response. Once you have gotten that general feeling of a yes or no response, start to read a few of the statements I have written below. Feel free to copy, paste and print them out if that would work better for you.

Affirmation statements:

My life flows with ease.

I trust my intuition.

I trust myself.

I am willing to love myself.

I am learning to be more creative everyday.

I give myself permission to let go.

I forgive myself.

I am willing to forgive others.

I allow only supportive relationships into my life.

I surround myself with people who treat me well.

I lovingly take care of my body.

I lovingly take care of my mind.

I lovingly take care of my emotions.

I lovingly take care of my spirit.

I am safe.

I accept and allow goodness into my life.

 

Do I need a Guru to Practice Yoga?

If you were undertaking yoga for spiritual reasons then traditionally, they would have said “yes, definitely”, but these days, and for many of us, it is not entirely the case. It largely depends upon where it is that you place your sense of authority on such matters. If you place it out into the world and onto other people, then you will naturally seek a guru “out there”. However, if you were to place your sense of authority upon yourself or your inner space, then “in here” is where you will naturally receive your guidance.

Having said that, it is still important, especially during the initial steps of practicing yoga, to seek out an experienced teacher or yoga school that feels right for you. If after some time you want go deeper with it, you will need to commit more seriously to that path. If a guru or real teacher is for you, then one will appear when the time is right. You can’t “force” spirituality to happen, it unfolds in its own natural way. Forcing it may actually take you in the opposite direction.

You really don’t need to go to India or chase after some famous guru just to advance on the path. There are many elevated beings in the most unlikely places, both in the yoga world and outside of it that will appear to guide you when you need it. Many of these spiritual beings and guides do not look anything like a ‘spiritual’ person and can often appear as normal, everyday people you may randomly come across in your daily life.

Simply be open and trust that the Universe is looking after you so you don’t need to chase anything or anyone down in order to find your fulfillment. Because of the tendency in the West to be over enthusiastic towards finding a guru in the East, many charlatans and con men exist, both in India and in the West, ready and waiting for naïve students to bow down and follow them idly. Many young and attractive females have fallen for these false masters due to their colorful words and decorative appearances. Be careful and don’t follow blindly any teacher who claims enlightenment. Often just the very claim of being enlightened is a sign that they are truly not. Other sure signs of falsity is claiming that a sexual experience with the guru will bring you enlightenment and happiness, do not fall for this spell. Sexual pleasures are a trap of the senses and for those who are truly realized beings; sexual encounters are of little interest to them. Sexual desire and pleasure is the most common reason for fallen gurus and teachers.

If you do your yoga with sincerity and continue to work on purifying the mind, then the path will become more and more obvious to you. There is really no need to go anywhere or to try and “work it out” by thinking about it. Just keep up your practice with sincerity and integrity and things will unfold of their own accord.

When you come across teachers who claim to be realized, be sure to question them and check what they say with your own inner experience and understanding. Blind faith will only serve to hinder your path.

There are many books, scriptures and teachings that have been brought our world by many realized beings of the past. When we look into these teachings we will see that all realized beings talk of the exact same thing, they just use different words to describe it. We also find that most of them don’t actually practice much yoga asana or postures. It seems that when such beings become highly evolved, the desire to practice asana is diminished, as is the attraction or entanglement to the physical world.

Be careful of anyone who claims to have discovered or created some new mystical or “secret code” that will unlock everlasting happiness. These styles of teachings are just marketing ploys designed to play on your innocence and make these charlatans a lot of money. In fact, there is no “secret code” to happiness or self-realization, so be sure to steer clear of anyone who claims such things.

Here is a list of verified teachers that I have, along my journey, confirmed are true. There is often little need to go off and find other teachers or teachings. Therefore it is best to just simply stick to the ones you know are genuinely verified.

Verified Spiritual Teachers:

Ramana Maharshi

Papaji

Mooji

Ram Dass

Paramahansa Yogananda

Sivananda Saraswati

Dalai Lama

Lao Tzu

Buddha

Jesus

Krishna

 

What I Like About South Korea

Some of you may be aware that I have moved to South Korea with my partner to teach English for a year. We are living in a small city (for Korea) of 1 million people called Changwon (we live in the Masan area of the city), on the southern coast of South Korea. We have been here for a good 3 months now. We teach Korean kids in the afternoons Monday to Friday in a private language institute nearby. We have a little 2-bedroom apartment on the 8th floor of a large apartment building nestled between the hills and the sea. When I’m not at school teaching English, I am either writing, reading, going to the gym, getting acupuncture or going for random walks around the area. We will be here for the another 9 months before probably heading back to Thailand to continue our work with yoga and Oriental medicine.

As a new post I thought it appropriate to talk about South Korea and what I have come to like about living here thus far.

1. Herbal drinks and health tonics are everywhere. Every supermarket and convenience store is stocked with over 10 different herbal tonics and drinks. By far the most common herb utilized and sold here is Korean Ginseng. It is part of their national pride to grow, harvest and prepare this root into all sorts of drinks, teas, and meals. Korean Ginseng root is known for its replenishing and boosting qualities of kidney energy. Having healthy kidneys means having a good reservoir of energy, having a good memory, living a long life and having strong sexual vigor. There is even a soju drink (bek soju) which is an alcoholic wine loaded with ginseng and other oriental herbs. Bek soju literally means 100 years old wine which suggests if you drink it,  you will live to 100 years old. I’m yet to meet a 100 year old who has drank bek soju every day but will let you know when I do!

2. Acupuncture and the health system is cheap, accessible and of high quality. I don’t know if there is an over abundance of doctors here but it seems that you can get in to see any health professional pretty quickly, without an appointment or much waiting time. The country has an integrated western and eastern medical system and acupuncture is definitely an accepted treatment form. The acupuncture treatments I have received cost me about $5 per session, yes, $5! So cheap! This is also because my job provides medical insurance. Without medical insurance I believe it would cost about $20. I intend to have a good look into all the preventative and complementary medical services on offer here such as tui na (massage), physio, Osteopathy and herbal medicine.

mike in korea3. Everything is condensed, meaning everything is just a 5 min walk away. Because the South Korean landscape is littered with mountains and steep hilly areas, the urbanized areas contain a high density of people. The advantage of this is that everything to live a simple day-to-day existence is within 5 minutes walk away. It is a refreshing change not to be driving a car around.

4. I feel safer here than I do in Australia.  Other than immanent threats of war from North Korea (just blowing smoke…we hope), South Korea is an incredibly safe place to live. Crime is very low and aggressive behavior is very rare to see.  Stealing is a rarity also, so much so that if you leave your wallet or phone behind in a taxi or in a restaurant, it’s very likely you’ll get it all back with all the money still in it.

kimchi5. Traditional South Korean food is one of the healthiest foods in the world. South Koreans are said to be one of the slimmest nations on earth. I think it is largely due to their obsession with kimchi, a national delicacy that involves fermented cabbage marinated in chilli, garlic, etc that is eaten with every meal. Fermented foods like kimchi provide good bacteria for the digestive track and the love of chilli in this country provides extra digestive fire. Korean traditional food is also high in protein.

6. South Korea has 4 distinct seasons. South Korea’s landscape changes dramatically as each season comes into play. The change in season seems to dramatically shift exactly according to the 1st day of the new season, which is remarkable to see. We are nearing the end of spring and about to step into Summer which is set to be blistering hot and monsoonal.

mike7. The parks have cool exercise machines designed for stimulating Qi. I love the fact that in Korean society there are traditional oriental medicine themes incorporated into everything. Parks are equipped with a series of gentle exercise machines. They range from twisters to acupressure rollers for your back. The other cool thing about this is that you can be doing these funny looking exercises in public and no one batters an eyelid (well, sometimes they do, only because they are amazed at a tall white guy doing them). In the Gyms they also have “wobble” machines that you can step on and they wobble and shake you all about, like a crazy massage. Definitely gets the Qi buzzing.

I’m sure there are more to be discovered as we have only been here for 3 months. We have signed a contract to teach for 12 months in our current location. During this time I will continue to write. I am planning a to run a series of restorative style yoga workshops in Seoul and Busan in the coming months.

 

I appreciate your support! Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions below.

Keep in touch and may the force be with you!