Wim Hof Method: The Trials…

The simplicity of the Wim Hof Method and it’s accessibility to all, is, as I have found out, the secret to its success.

I took it upon myself to dive straight in to several experiments (not all that are offered), namely breathing (including retention and meditation), cold therapy (twenty day challenge to take cold showers for three minutes per day, culminating in my first ice bath this morning), and certain physical exercises (push-ups, stretching, inversions and horse stance).

As already mentioned, I have tried a lot of eastern-based practices over the years, yet this western variant (no not Covid related) seems to resonate with me more, allowing me to stick rigidly to it, compared to the other methods.

I found the breath work to be both invigorating and serene at the same time, the supercharging of my body through increased oxygen surging through veins, arteries and capillaries, waking them up and working them to provide a natural high and the ability to hold my breath for four minutes, and it is during that time that I experience a real peace, and all for free. I recall in desperation paying a not too insignificant amount to partake in a transcendental meditation course which never really worked for me.

The cold showers shocked my body into life after the breath work, and even though the temperature was only a cool nineteen degrees centigrade, it was still cold enough to make a difference, to calmly withstand room temperature water, which is quite odd. I can walk around the house naked (what a horrible thought) for hours and not be affected by nineteen degrees centigrade, but turn that same temperature into water and you feel the immediate difference.

Might as well start on the most difficult level, no time to lose…
Mr Flibble says four minutes WOO (With Out Oxygen)…
Cold shower challenge complete…

That’s biology at work. The reason the water feels colder than air is because water is the better conductor of the two. When you plunge into a nineteen degrees centigrade shower or pool, heat escapes your body much more easily across the entire surface area, than it would if you were simply standing in nineteen degrees centigrade air, as the water takes more heat from your body, and quicker, it feels colder.

Naturally, I wanted to experience an ice bath to take it to the next level, and after some serious contemplation and lack of opportunities in buying a large wooden barrel, I acquired a portable bath (yes it’s a thing), prepared zip-lock ice bricks and took my first ten minute plunge today. At fifteen degrees centigrade (which is just cold enough for the magic to start working according to The Hoffer), it didn’t take my breath away, probably down to the cold shower preparation each day. I’ll need more bricks to get the temperatures down to below ten degrees centigrade (when the real magic happens), I just need to broker a freezer space deal with the wife!

It’s a start…
Maybe my Chewbacca legs are keeping me too warm…
Done…

The horse stance and “tai-chi-esque”manoeuvres do seem to raise the body temperatures to counter the less-than arctic blast of cold to the system, and these are much needed, as simply towelling of doesn’t seem to increase the temperatures rapidly enough before the chills set in.

My wife and I also took it upon ourselves to take the practice to the beach early one morning this week, where I found a perfectly flat rock to do my breath work and horse stance on, sandwiched between a dip in the sea, which again was a relatively warm eighteen degrees centigrade.

Just breathe m*therf*cker…

My plan is to do the breath work in the garden before my tribe rises each day and take a plunge, to set my intention for whatever the day should bring, giving me more power in the mind to succeed, at whatever it is I need to do.

One thing I have noticed, is that the method certainly gives me that grounding and stable platform for the day, but within a few hours of getting back on the corporate treadmill, the same old duhkha reappears, so I may have to carve out a “WHM siesta” at lunchtime to see me through.

One thing is for certain, the method helps, but it can’t change everything. Over time, I hope that I will have that power over the mind, and with that find the courage to make a real change in my life, to ditch the stressful job, live with the financial consequences of that decision and find more a meaningful venture and peaceful existence.

In August, I am booked on a one-day WHM course with a qualified instructor over in North Wales, with a view to seeing if I too could embrace the method more deeply and see if there is an opportunity to become qualified, to learn the deeper levels of the practice so I could teach others of the benefits that are clearly there, and with that take a bold and brave step into the unknown world of financial insecurity yet corporate liberation, and with that, a freedom from the bondage of a system that doesn’t work for me.

Fully in. Letting go….

The Iceman Cometh…

Baader–Meinhof is a phenomenon in which after noticing something for the first time, there is a tendency to notice it more often, leading to a belief that it has a high frequency, and perhaps (taking it a step further) there is an esoteric force at work, pushing it into consciousness, giving the self a nudge to find out more.

I had never heard of Wim Hof until recently. The first time I heard the name was when I took to the road last year to survey the land for our planned eco-retreat (the progress of which is near zero due to pandemic related logistics issues). Our trip to the Lammas eco-village soon after raised his profile further, and further still with my foray into ishnaan (ancient cold water therapy first practiced by Indian sheikhs in the Punjab) and finally Russell Brand who has waxed lyrical about the guy for the last eighteen months.

As my recent duhkha post detailed, I have been trying far too hard to find enlightenment, peace and equilibrium over the last decade, in a desperate attempt to find answers to the hard questions of why are we here, how do we maintain a healthy mind and body and what happens to our soul when we die.

I have undertaken many practices during that time, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, reiki, kundalini and all forms of holistic therapy. Whilst that was not wasted time, I found that I was no more balanced than before, wiser of course and more knowledgeable, but still somewhat out of kilter.

One of my commune comrades started to talk about Wim Hof again a couple of weeks over breakfast, and I decided to take a deeper look into this guy to find out what his method was (WHM – Wim Hof Method).

After watching some of his (and Russell Brands) YouTube videos and downloading his free app, I found that his approach to wellness was simple, so simple in fact that it was instantly accessible to all, free at the point of entry, which used our mind, lungs and skin to help retune our physical and meta-physical states of being to bring back balance, calmness and a super-charged immune system to boot.

Contrast that to the other forms of conditioning out there, chemical conditioning via Big Pharma, mental conditioning via Big Therapy, physical conditioning via Big Trainers, spiritual conditioning via Big Religion, all of which comes at considerable expense.

Even the spiritual practices like yoga, transcendental meditation, and holistic therapies don’t come cheap, but the WHM looks to give you all of that balance for free via (in the main) breathing techniques and cold water therapy. That’s it. No detailed rules, laws, regulations, dogma, trinkets, gadgets, just you, your body, your time and water.

Naturally this sounds too good to be true, but as with many things in life (with the exception of injecting heroin, jumping out of a plane without a parachute or supporting Liverpool FC), I’ll try anything once.

So I did just that, and all that I can say is that it works, or at least it is starting to.

Breath work I have done before in yoga (relaxing and energetic), but never have I attempted body oxygenation and breath retention. Within the space of just a few days, I found myself being able to hold my breath for just shy of three minutes, post-which my stress levels plummeted to absolute zero. No technique I’ve done thus far has allowed me to go from breakneck speed to a dead stop so quickly. Remarkable.

The cold therapy I found quite easy too. New Years Day this year saw me in sub-zero temperatures in the sea close to home, albeit with a swim suit on, and I have taken cold showers since, but not with such routine or regularity. Every day I wake up now, energised after unbroken nights of slumber (another benefit of the WHM), almost racing for the spare room where I take my morning “meds” in the form of breath work and contemplation, followed by either a cold shower or a quick dip in the sea if the tides are right before the work day commences.

I am already seeing the benefits, I feel my head is less foggy, my body is reacting well to the new practices, and conflict situations in work have been dealt with as matter of fact rather than “oh no!” scenarios.

Naturally I wanted to know as much about Wim Hof as I could, so my wife bought me his recent book for my birthday which came today, three chapters down already at lunch and I’m in awe of the guy. Humble and honest background, no bullshit, easy to read and the words come straight from the heart, giving me the impression that this guy is both authentic and awesome in equal measures.

Incredibly, he has twenty-six work records, mostly ice-related shenanigans, but it was his clinical trials that pricked my attention most. Here was a guy in his fifties, deploying his own breathing/cold therapy/mind over matter techniques being injected with ecoli under lab conditions, monitored by medical practitioners to see how this man really reacted when his body was put under a real attack, only to find that his immune system was so strong, the bad bacteria had no impact on him whatsoever. He repeated the experiment with twelve of his trainees a short while later and all twelve tests had the same outcome.

What is this? Is it luck? Is it good DNA? Is it poor test conditions? Or is it the fact that here we had a man who could manipulate his immune system in such a way that made him somewhat impervious to bacteria and viruses, even when injected directly into the body?

From what I have read thus far, the science backed up the latter.

Many have frowned upon me when I have told them that I will not be taking the Covid vaccines, on the basis that I believe that I am healthy enough for the virus to only impact me slightly, and that the vaccine is still only on emergency licence until 2023 with no clinical conclusions reached. Mr Hof it appears has now given me the opportunity and associated techniques to boost my immune system even further, which I will embrace with freezing arms (from the cold showers).

I’ll continue to do the daily exercises to see how the practice improves my mind, body and soul, but may leave the ecoli injections a while longer…

Ishnaan for the soul…

Since the turn of the year, when able I’ve taken to the sea for meditation and contemplation.

Whilst New Years Day brought several hundred to the beach and a communal spirit of togetherness, today marked a different experience.

As the temperatures in the UK starts to plummet, so have the numbers of “dipper”. I got to the beach at eight this morning to find only a few folks milling around the car park, the sea completely barren of near-zero bathers.

-2c on land, no icebergs present…

Undeterred by the cold -2c read-out displayed on the dashboard, I waded into to the duck-pond calm waters of Liverpool Bay, surrounded only by gentle waves and whistling white noise the sea was making as it ascended and receded on the not-so distant shoreline.

Eyes closed, body cooling, the tiniest of crescent moons focused my morning meditation and shut out everything else in the known universe. Meditation allows for breaks in the chaos, the disorder, the high entropy of the broken system we find ourselves in at present.

Quite soon, there is no cold, only stillness, calmness, nothingness, like a dissolution of the lower self as the higher self takes total control, and blocks out all materialism.

Eventually (fifteen minutes in), the lower self returns and the body reawakens to suggest it’s time to get out before hypothermia kicks in.

A wade back to the shore is greeted by winter-wrapped dog walkers with amusing grins, a nod to the crazy person emerging from the icy cold waters.

Back home, as the rest of the house still slumbers, the wood burner heats the frozen body parts on the outside and the warm poached eggs and coffee does likewise inside.

Toe-Toasting-Tastic!
Spinach, poached eggs, salmon and cracked pepper, breakfast of the Gods!

If only all days could start like this…

Ishnaan…

When I got home from work last Friday (moved from the office/bedroom to the dining room – I do love my commute these days), I saw an excited wife, surrounded by neoprene goodies.

Not wanting to do things in half measures, she had bought a wet-suit, wet-shoes, wet-gloves and soon-to-be wet-robe.

Either she was leaving me for a life on Bondi Beach with a surfer, or she was contemplating something closer to home.

I was perplexed, given the fact that December was just around the corner and her sensitivity to cold is extreme when compared to most.

Intrigued, I asked her what was all the gear for, to which she explained that she had just joined a club. The local club, which has 1,500 members is called The Chilly Dippers, so first thing on Sunday we took the short five minute drive to the beach at high tide to see what it was.

We were totally shocked at the amount of people there, there are usually plenty of car spaces when we take our pooch for a walk at similar times (albeit when the tide is out). There were lots of people in the water already, kayakers, paddle-boarders, swimmers and “dippers”.

It was the dippers that caught my eye (in a non-pervy way), some just wearing swimming costumes and coming out of the sea red raw. So these were The Chilly Dippers. My wife is a good swimmer and I wrongly assumed that her new club was a sea-swimming club. Not so. The premise is to go into the sea for no longer than ten minutes, until the body reacts to the cold water and your internal temperature starts to rise, all for health (mind and body) benefits.

Still scratching my head as to why one would do this, I coincidentally saw my yoga tutor on the beach and asked her what she thought.

It turns out that the practice is an ancient one called ishnaan, which the Sikh use as hydrotherapy.

It is used like a kriya in kundalini yoga and “L” does it every day, not in the sea of course, but by showering at home.

The practice and benefits are as follows:

PRACTICE

1, Start the freezing cold shower with the extremities, feet first then rising up to the leg, rubbing, massaging using opposite foot and legs, avoiding the thighs.

2. Avoid the reproductive organs as they don’t need to be exposed directly to the cold water stream, they will get it indirectly from the torso.

3. Next it’s hands, arms and shoulders, again rubbing and massaging.

4. From there, move the cold water stream to the navel, abdomen, chest and back.

5. Lastly, up to the face, with eyes, nose, mouth, ears, cheeks, but not the forehead or your hair, as this could send one back into the sleep zone.

6. Cycle is repeated until it has the desired effect or your body has chilled enough for you to stay in the stream constantly, to a maximum of ten minutes as the body would eventually go into shock / hypothermic state.

7. Dry yourself with a warm towel and place several coins in the swear jar!

BENEFITTS

1. Keeps the skin radiant.

2. Opens the capillaries.

3. Detoxifies organs.

4. Keeps blood composition healthy.

5. Activates the glandular system.

6. Strengthens the entire nervous system.

7. Reduces CO2e by not using a gas-powered heating system.

So this morning I took my first ishnaan (which I intend to do each day now as part of my routine) and truly felt a difference. Of course the water was freezing cold and the noises coming out of the bathroom sounded like Norman Bates was giving it large with mommy’s kitchen knife, but overall it was an invigorating experience.

My body was red (not too dissimilar from the brave costume-wearing Chilly Dippers), and I did have a mild mystical experience. Towards the end of the shower, I felt light headed and my mind appeared in a slightly different time and space from the rest of my body; a reiki type warmth coursing around my neural pathways.

I guess the science behind it is lower blood pressure to the brain giving me that light-headed feeling, as most of the available blood was rushing to the assistance of the top four layers of skins which were being blasted awake by cold water.

From neoprene suits to ancient Sikh daily rituals in a short space of time, life is full of surprises…

The Ten Bodies…

Kundalini yoga is very different to other more traditional forms of yoga, it concentrates on actions not postures, with breath and energy flow more important than ones elasticity.

I think it is for this reason that it aligns more to the metaphysical rather than the material form, and as a result it is more of a workout for the mind than the body.

One of the ways we can understand our existence better through the practice of kundalini yoga is by what is known as the ten bodies.

We are made up of one physical body, three mental bodies and six energy bodies. The ten body system makes us aware that we are so much more than only our physical shell, so much more than the sum of our parts.

“If you understand that you are Ten Bodies, and you are aware of those Ten Bodies, and you keep them in balance, the whole universe will be in balance with you.”

Last nights kriya on the ten bodies was one of the best sessions of kundalini yoga I’ve had so far. Buoyed off the back of the best year end performance review I’ve ever had from my new and wonderfully supportive line manager, I welcomed “L” with open arms (no social distancing/conditioning here) and took to my usual position at the back of the class and went through this kriya with a “permasmile” (albeit with a little pain from my recently diagnosed laboral muscle tear on my right hip. I nearly fell off my chair when I thought I’d heard the consultant tell me I had torn my labia, my operation isn’t scheduled until next year!).

So what are the ten bodies:

1. Soul Body

Our first body is the soul body, which is quite literal our soul or essence. It represents our connection to the infinite and the divine. It is our deepest core, our truest self, giving us the ability to live truthfully and from our heart. In an imbalanced state, we act from our head instead from our heart, prioritizing our intellect over our intuition. Within kundalini, the soul body responds to postures, breathing exercises and mantras that resonate with our heart chakra. To balance the first body, we have to open our hearts to the divine.

2. Negative Mind

This is our second body. Whereas many people do not want to accept that they have this body, it is within all of us and also part of human nature. It has its place, as it is constantly working to assess our environment and situations for danger or negative potential. In this way, the negative mind keeps us safe and alive. Moreover, if there wouldn’t be a negative mind, how could we then possibly know what a positive mind is? Everything in the universe works in dualities. It is however important to balance our negative mind by becoming aware of it and with the practice of discipline and purification.

3. Positive Mind

Just as we have a negative mind, we also obviously possess a positive mind. The positive mind gives us our strength, willpower, playfulness and a positive outlook on circumstances. It helps us identify opportunity and resources with its characteristics of enthusiasm, hopefulness and trust. In relation to our physical body, everything we do in order to strengthen our core and the area around our navel (our solar plexus chakra) resonates with this body and is beneficial for it. Strengthening the positive mind through kundalini will enhance self-esteem and self-worth.

4. Neutral Mind

Not only do we have a positive and negative mind, we also have a neutral mind, which makes up our fourth body. The neutral mind absorbs and evaluates the thoughts of the negative and positive mind. Contrary to the second and third bodies, the fourth body makes decisions out of non-emotional intuition and looks behind the assessments of the positive and negative mind. It therefore delivers guidance and stimulates decision-making based on clarity, calmness, balance and wisdom. Meditation is a wonderful tool to strengthening your neutral mind.

5. Physical Body

This is our tangible body, the one we can perceive with our eyes and other human senses. It is the temple in which houses all the other bodies in some form. Through the physical body, we have the ability to balance ourselves and our lives. An imbalance in the physical body can manifest in the form of anger, jealousy, greed, fatigue and a lack of gratitude, but also in an obsession with physical appearance and a clinging to the material world. To balance our physical body we must develop a practice that keep our bodies strong, flexible and resilient, like yoga or a form of martial arts.

6. Arcline

The arcline can be visualized as our halo, expanding from one ear to the other, encompassing the hairline and the brow. It is our avenue of intuition and regulates the nervous system. It is also associated with our pituitary gland, our third eye. Women have a second arcline across the chest, reaching from one breast to the other. 

The arcline serves as a balance and gateway between the physical and the cosmic realm and between word and deed. If out of balance, our values might not be in line with our actions and we will have difficulty focusing. In order to balance the sixth body, awaken the pituitary gland (our sixth chakra) through meditation, pranayama and drishti (gazing) to our third eye. 

7. Aura

The aura is our electromagnetic energy field surrounding our physical body. It cannot be perceived by the naked human eye, but it can still be felt. Even though that might sound very spiritual, it is scientifically measurable that this energetic resonance exists between three to nine feet away from our bodies! The aura contains and protects our life force – our prana – and interacts with it. If mastered, it projects positivity and repels negativity from our body, working as a shield. An imbalanced aura will be felt in paranoia and a lack of self-trust. Negativity can enter your body and psyche much easier. To balance the aura body, meditation, pranayama, martial arts as well as wearing natural fibers and following a wholesome, organic diet are beneficial.

8. Pranic Body

The pranic body is our eighth body in the kundalini tradition. ‚Prana‘ means life-force in Sanskrit. Through our breath, we are continuously working with our pranic body for life force to enter our body. If mastered, we will experience fearlessness, purity, energy as well as the balance of polarities. Hence, the male and female energies present within us are fully integrated within ourselves. In am imbalanced state, we might experience anxiety, fatigue and defensiveness. To balance our pranic body – yes you guessed it right – every pranayama will have a positive impact.

9. Subtle Body

This body is characterized by our ability to sense and perceive the infinite and universal reality with the material and physical realm. The subtle body is deeply woven within our soul body. When our physical bodies die, the subtle body carries our soul. The qualities of the subtle body are calmness, insight, intuition and mastery. A weak subtle body manifest in naivety, restlessness, frustration and the feeling of being misunderstood. In order to master the ninth body, keep up any meditation or kundalini kriya for 1,000 consecutive days

10. Radiant Body

This body gives – of course – radiance, as well as courage, creativity and nobility. Magnetic and charismatic people are a great example of a balanced radiant body. A weak radiant body will express itself in shyness, problems to overcome fear and the avoidance of conflict. The best thing we can do for our radiant bodies is to have commitment, no matter what obstacle or challenge we might face.

The evening ended with relaxation and I could feel the positive energy from my fellow classmates all around, warmly embracing me and sending me into a different realm of consciousness, albeit (too) briefly.

Throughout the session I noticed the amount of times “L” mentioned the word infinity, as if a nod to this blog and to my inner thoughts and scribed outputs here.

It’s times like these that one tries to seek out calmer waters in the maelstrom we all currently find ourselves in, Captain “L” helps her passengers expertly to avoid them reaching for the sick bag, steering her ship away from the rough oceans and onto the sea of tranquility…

Serpents Rising…

There is no doubt that energy is shifting daily like the sands on a windy beach.

Getting back to nature last week and living life temporarily outside the chaos has brought new light on dark times. Ignoring the pandemic, turning off the news and revisiting the positivity of the past has of late rekindled introspection and what gives me inner peace.

Experiencing the sensory and physical aspects of reality – the flora, the fauna, the cloud formations, the rush of the sea at high tides, the setting sun, the rising moon, as well experiencing the mystical and metaphysical aspects of reality too on just what it feels like to part of something so incredible, I find myself at times in awe of such beauty and the associated feelings experienced are rekindling forgotten spiritual connections I have with some people that I have lost touch with over the years, giving me such a huge internal boost in these troublesome times.

It is seven years ago to the very month that I took my reiki training, opening the neural pathways to something quite alien, quite astounding, tapping into hidden energies that had been hitherto out of reach for the materialist I once was (and have been again over the last couple of years).

Once again it was my wife that reminded me of just who I was back in 2013 and how of late bits of my old self had returned. My “being” back then was born out of abject negativity and selfishness, with me operating as it were as a mid-week bachelor and weekend dad (replicating the abhorrent behaviour of my own alcoholic father).

Such was the shame at this realisation that I was becoming him if not already, that drastic action was required else my strong-willed wife and children would be gone, something my mother sadly never had the strength to do.

So an awakening took place, and with it a connection to a hidden and healing energy, a cosmic current taped into for the first time, opening my eyes to the fact that there was more to this reality than the five senses could serve up.

Buddhists and New Age folks say that things go around in seven year cycles, and here we are exactly seven years later and I find myself knocking on the door of my old reiki master “L” who has “upgraded” to kundalini yoga, and has her own practice based out of a majestic place in the heart of the Wirral countryside.

Although I had not seen her for many years, it was clear that time doesn’t exist (does it anyway?) when it comes to a rekindling of spirits. A quick non-non-distancing hug and catch-up revealed that we would pick up exactly where we left off and both agreed that paths we have taken across the years seem to be forever intertwined.

The same for my wife too. She has been struggling too over the last six months as a furloughed complimentary therapist with too much time on her hands, consuming the chaos, facts, lies and conspiracies for most of her waking hours, minutes and seconds each day. She too needed to refocus by joining me on this journey.

I decided after our trip to Devon to remove meat from my diet. The previous seven days had seen us consume half a farm, chickens, pigs and cows were all present on our daily calorie count and a return to the homestead made me feeling bloated and like a badly cooked steak, over-done.

I was a vegetarian for around eighteen months when I took my reiki training and with the new outlook, new friends, new energy and new lifestyle, it was only natural a diet forms part of the new me.

We have all consumed too much during the lockdown, grazing from cookie jars and overdosing on Netflix for too long over the last six months and our portly figures provide the evidence of that, so a dietary change was a must. I’ve also been out every morning running, cycling, kayaking and land-boarding before everyone else opens the curtains, and boy what a difference a week makes.

Tuesday saw our first kundalini yoga session with “L”. I like to understand what I’m getting myself into so spent sometime on Tuesday morning researching what kundalini yoga was all about. I had heard and read some negative and sensational reviews of the kundalini experiencing, ranging from mental instability to whole body orgasms and a lot of other stuff in between. Classifying it as fake news (but having an awareness of it in case I experience such – yes to the orgasms!) we joined the class and took part in what was such a different experience to the Hatha / posture-based yoga I have always undertaken.

Relatively easy positions were counter-posed by vigorous breathing techniques (breath of fire) leaving us both exhausted yet conversed completely invigorated and energised by the end. Everyone in the group was lovely, warm and welcoming, leaving us with the opinion that in some way, we had found our way home.

We spoke fondly of our experience on the drive home through the shadowy country lanes and with energy still racing when we got back home, I went for a run with the old and faithful pooch, giving new life to old legs.

Land-boarding on the promenade and looping the local marina in the morning sun as the open-water swimmers raised the mouths for breaths the next morning reminded me what if felt to be alive, a positive feelings I’d not felt in a long, long time.

If the early part of the week blew us away with positive energy, then what we experienced on Thursday made that look like a mere ripple on the sea compared to the the tsunami which was about to take place. When we have good weather and as we live close to the sea, when the conditions and tides are right, then “L” conducts her kundalini yoga class on the beach, which is accompanied by evening swims and paddling (sea kayaks and stand up paddle boarding).

As we approached, the beach car park (usually only partly occupied) we were surprised by how was rammed it was with vehicles. As we decanted our kayak and paddling gear, we looked up to see over 100 yoga mats laid out facing the sun, a welcoming inward tide and our spiritual instructor for the day in the lotus position waiting to begin. Incredible.

The session was the same as the “kriya” as Tuesday so we both knew what as to come, this time it was easier as we had had the practice, the session was more magical than the previous one, given the setting, the sheer volume of people and the communal and positive energy by all, resonating a common frequency of happiness.

Feeling again totally energised, we spent the next hour kayaking on the open and warm waters of the Mersey Estuary, totally at one with the universe and the like-minded souls we were spending time with.

Without sounding like a stuck record in reference (reverence) to Westworld, the words “Some choose to see the ugliness in the world, the disarray, I choose to see the beauty” never rang so true. If you are in the position to commune with nature and seek out opportunities for serenity, there is no better time than now. I’m mindful that we are not all in that position presently, with my friends and colleagues in India under almost full lockdown so I have to tone down my own personal journey at the moment, so not to fan their flames of despair, but they are in my thoughts and non-religious prayers.

I’m not one for taking good photos, but every now and again I hit jackpot. As my wife was paddling in, I stood waist-deep in the sea as the sun was setting and pressed click, the result of which reminded me of the ethereal Pink Floyd album The Endless River (Sea in this case), which sure seemed to be that way with nothing visible on the horizon, almost suggesting that infinity beckons…

We are equal. We are One….

When one possesses the wisdom of the Buddha (in part of course, not in whole), it is easier to empathise with others, especially when confronted by aggression and anger.

When one truly understands that aggression and anger in others is merely a by-product of suffering, anxiety and disorder (dukkha), then the path to forgiveness is but a small step.

It is easy to sound self-righteous when when one is in a position of wisdom, so it is wise to choose ones words carefully when suggesting potential paths for others to take to potentially overcome what pains them; sensitively is required (and perhaps explaining to others that your are free from suffering is best kept to oneself).

Boldly sharing our own negative experiences and explaining how we obtained serenity and peace can often help in such situations.

We all learn by our mistakes and there are always solutions to resolve the root causes of such pain, one just needs to open ones eyes and see the reality of the situation and understand that the solution lies within. Nothing external can fix root cause problems; no pill, no drink, no drug, no advice can eradicate the suffering. Understanding our internal landscape is the key to peace and the gateway to a better life.

A situation happened in work yesterday which made me put in practice what I had learned from the Buddha (via the sage words of Steve Hagen). I had scheduled a meeting in a room at work, but when I arrived there were three occupants in the room. I very politely asked them to leave as I had booked the room in advance and the male turned around and started verbally abusing me, followed up by an aggressive confrontation whereby marched right up to be, putting his face in mine, staring deep into my eyes with such venom. I was in shock at first that such a thing had happened in a global corporation such as mine, promptly apologised to my guest (new customer) and advised that his actions were not representative of the attitude or principles of the company.

Initially I was livid, angry that someone had tried to use their authority / loftier position in the organisation to intimidate me and gain advantage (and my meeting room). After a moment of calm, I soon realised that the confrontation was a reflection on him and of his evident dukkha, so forgiveness was instant. Whether I seek out an escalation to make sure he is aware that his behaviour in our organisation is totally unacceptable is yet to be determined.

I could have given him confrontation back (and a previous version of me probably would have done that and then some) but instead chose not to. I am not a better man than him and he is not a better man the I. We are equal. The difference between us is that I am awake, I understand that it is dukkha that creates such situations, I am understand that dukkha exists and I am aware and in control of mine and he is not. Just because someone has received a better education (him being a privately educated attorney (so I found out) and me being comprehensively educated IT geek), just because someone is further up the chain of command (he being several grades above me (so I found out) in the organisation), just because someone is paid a significant amount extra (a + b = c) does not make him a better person. We are equal.

We. Are. All. Equal.

We. Are. All. One…

The path is clear, but no eyes can see…

Each dawn that breaks gives one a renewed chance to wake up. Not from slumber in the literal sense, but metaphysically speaking. Each day that arrives brings about change; a day older (for sure); a day wiser (perhaps) and a day closer to death (depends on how you define death…).

Some people (by choice or otherwise) live in a perpetual state of the un-awakened, happy to continue to live out their existence without feeling the need (or having the capacity) to challenge the true nature of reality. As all human experience is subjective and individualistic, no one can truly say that their approach is right or wrong.

For those who choose to challenge the five senses and Einstein’s cosmological principles, the first steps are the most difficult as there is no set path to follow. What is clear is that something usually sparks a flame for knowledge, knowledge which is hitherto forgotten or as yet unknown.

Science, religion, philosophy and noetics seem to be the most logical places to start looking, and most quests invariably encounter all four. Like countless others, my quest had to start by looking inside myself. What I found wasn’t pleasant. What I found was suffering, anxiety, stress and disorder. What was more difficult to find, but not impossible, was the root cause of such pain. What I found was craving, wanting and desire. What was even more difficult was how and what to change. What I found however was the solution and for the first time in my life I could start to see true nature of reality emerging. This was my spiritual epiphany.

Over the course of just a few months, I came to the conclusion that my suffering, fueled through my own desires, could ease by diminishing this metaphysical concept known as the ego or the self and that sustained focus on my “ikigai“, (in my case the family) would yield a new peace within me. Through yoga, meditation, reiki and complimentary therapies, I would keep this inner light with me at all times, ready to distinguish the darkness should it return.

My path was now clearer, and it was only after reading Buddhism: Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen did I realise (without knowing it) that the path and resolution I had followed related to the Buddhist Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path:

  • The Four Noble Truths
    • The truth of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, dissatisfaction).
    • The truth of the origin of dukkha.
    • The truth of the cessation of dukkha.
    • The truth of the path leading to the cessation of dukkha (the Eight Fold Path).
  • The Eight Fold Path

    • Wisdom
      • Right view (viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be).
      • Right intention (intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness).
    • Ethical conduct
      • Right speech (speaking in a truthful and non-hurtful way).
      • Right action (acting in a non-harmful way).
      • Right livelihood (a non-harmful livelihood).
    • Concentration
      • Right effort (making an effort to improve).
      • Right mindfulness (awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness; being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion).
      • Right concentration (correct meditation or concentration).

Whilst I could concur that the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path were a set of principles that everyone true to themselves (forgive me for the use of the word self, Steve) and others should adhere to, what was missing for me was the true nature of reality. Nietzsche was not entirely complementary of Buddhism (as you would expect) and classified it as a subdivision of nihilism, which to some extent I can agree with.

But what is reality? What is it that our senses experience and translate into pictures, sounds, smells, tastes and feels, is it all an illusion? Does true consciousness reside within the brain? Is the true nature of reality hidden from view for a reason? All these questions puzzled me, so the path I took at the crossroads led me to noetics, and in particular the works of Ervin Laszlo and Anthony Peake (my conclusions detailed in The Noetic Nook).

One thing is for sure, life and human experience is subjective and there appears to be no single path to the truth. The key however is to awaken, awaken to the truth that it is desire that causes suffering and to put a stop to ones ego will yield rewards to ourselves and to those around us. We may never truly experience the true nature of reality until we depart from the physical plain, but what we do each day can reduce our physical (and mental) pain.

Instrumental Communications (EVP)

When I think of instrumental communication in relation to other-realm transmissions, my thoughts instantly drift to the silver screen and visions from Poltergeist (TV) and The Exorcist (tape recorder). If such a thing as Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) exists, then what is it exactly is it?

A short while back I did some research on the electromagnetic spectrum on the basis that I had read somewhere that our senses can only perceive 5% of it, and if that was correct, then what was it that made up the rest? The electromagnetic spectrum starts off at the Extremely Low Frequency of 3 Hz (radio waves) reaching to a high of 300 EHz (gamma radiation), decreasing in wave length as the hertz increases.

With the spectrum, there are only 2 specific sections we (as the average layman) can tune into with our senses, namely VF (or Voice Frequency aka sound) which occurs between 300 Hz and 3 KHz and NUV (or Near Ultra Violet aka sight) which occurs between 300 THz and 3 PHz. What we can perceive as reality (sights and sounds) are both visible and audible within such ranges, and we have over time developed instruments which allow us to extend beyond such boundaries (via radios, Infra-Red Cameras and Spectroscopes and the likes), whose job it is to translate image and sound frequencies so we can see and hear what is being transmitted.

If communications are being projected by a consciousness(es) (or indeed the source / the singular collective consciousness) then at what part of the electromagnetic spectrum are they being broadcast on? My theory is that if indeed messages are being transmitted from another “realm”, then certain folks (like mediums, those with psychic tendencies or those who attain altered states of consciousness) have some innate ability (or otherwise in the case of the meditator) to tap in to such communications, experiencing beyond the normal VF and NUV boundaries of the aforementioned average layman. If it is the case that apparitions and messages may only appear to certain folks, which are broadcasted on different frequencies then as long as we have the ability to capture such transmissions via electronic devices, then it should be possible to prove this (should the sender of course wish to – there is always a catch)…

The number of EVP recordings is on the increase (I suspect due to the ubiquitous and affordable technology available to us), all made possible through such works of Faraday, Hertz, Tesla, Marconi and Edison. There are several interesting examples of EVP communications via tape recordings (Gregorian chants – the church wouldn’t lie about such matters surely?), via video (optical feedback loops recorded to reveal images of deceased German personalities) and perhaps the most interesting of all cases which involved Ervin Laszlo, which broadcasted dedicated messages via a radio in front of a room full of witnesses.

The use of electronic devices does open up the seed of doubt as to whether the communications which are transmitted are in fact authentic (much in the same way way mediums are due to “proof by proxy” and not direct experience), and a quick search of EVP on YouTube will reveal servers full of implausible and downright silly examples of this. Trying to find legitimate and actual proof of EVP on the internet is a pointless exercise. That said, several high profile invididuals with cases of EVP (including parliamentarians) were in fact willing to go on record to declare their experience, not caring for the risk of a reputation bashing.

OPINION: My initial research into EVP revealed the exact opposite of evidence (anti-evidence?) so I must say that as of yet, I have not seen or heard anything plausible with my own lugholes and peepers, so I remain on the fence. I did attend a session at the London College of Psychics last night where I recorded an Erlendur Haraldsson lecture relating to his latest book “The Departed Among the Living: An Investigative Study of Afterlife Encounters” on the basis that if there was a location that could project transmissions from the other realm, then that was definitely one of them! I did at exactly 7:25pm get a full on surge of reiki energy shooting up and down my chakras but sadly on playback, no “other voices” could be heard. I do intend to experiment EVP on my own using, I just need to find a shop which actually sells a radio (remember them)…

I would only regard personal evidence as a success if I received targeted and specific messages contained within the EVP recording, not random voices (as these could be cross-channel communications on the radio and thus render the evidence not sound, and certainly not proof of non-local consciousness. What I am also intrigued about is reiki and what exactly (and I mean exactly) it is. I have been attuned (Level 2) and can under certain conditions bring in invisible energy forces to expedite the meditative process, but what it is I’m tapping into remains (for today at least) a mystery…

Near Death Experiences (NDE)

So straight in with the big question, no messing around: “Could human consciousness exist in the absence of a living brain?” Isn’t that the million dollar question…

I have over the years read a lot about NDE’s (Near Death Experiences) and find the whole think quite fascinating actually. I guess if one looks for evidence of non-local consciousness, then NDE’s (for me) are the most logical place to start.

Once the brain is clinically dead (and by that I infer that one is clinically dead with the cessation of cerebral blood flow and oxygen), then after a period of intense “about to die” brain activity (which could be explained as the final electrical surge during the glutamate flood), one is fact dead. Deceased. An ex-human. One is indeed pushing up the daisies…

Thinking of a logical simile, death is like a computer: when it’s time to log off you prepare yourself, click Start > Shut Down and the internal parts process such a request which results in a spike of electrical activity – shutting down all services and processes before finally presenting a black screen. Once in this mode, one can move the mouse or type on the keyboard, but alas there is no response (unless you resuscitate it by pressing the power button again of course). Our computer cannot experience or store anything whilst in this mode, so I guess this is where we as humans may differ and as such the search for synthetic or artificial consciousness will be in vain.

The catalogued NDE cases I’ve read are very interesting indeed, especially those OBE (Out of Body Experiences) where folks have witnessed items from way above their vantage points like mouse traps on high cupboards, shoes on a roof etc after all visible brain activity has ceased. No doubt there have been some seriously clever and impartial folks documenting and studying such events, and personally I would like to think that experiences like seeing deceased relatives, beings of light and tunnels are in fact evidence of something beyond this realm. If we can only experience five percent of the electro/audio magnetic spectrum of what we call reality with the limited five senses we have, then one has to conclude there is something else out there. Exactly what that is, I guess we may never know.

The more intriguing cases for me are NDE’s of the young, for surely if an infant has no preconceptions about religion, beings of light, tunnels and the concept of death, then if in those cases they were able to describe such things in detail then for me the evidence really does start to stack up. There was one case that Penny Sartori who studies and writes about NDE’s cited, whereby a four year old child (whom obviously had little/no religious experience) managed to describe their NDE in great detail; going into a tunnel, meeting people and seeing a gate which they never went through.

Whilst there are extremes variety and wealth of evidence both captured and studied, I ask myself the question whether consciousness is non-local based on the NDE’s evidence I have read thus far and can I presented can be regarded as being beyond reasonable doubt. There is still something which the logical part of me questions. Take time dilation. I have first-hand experience of time dilation when “not conscious”, through vivid dreams and the Lucid Light Device (Lucia No 3) where extensive periods of dream-time occur within seconds or minutes of real-time. NDE cases could simply be experiencing “something” during that shutdown mode when the brain is hyper-active based on preconceptions or religious/spiritual beliefs of the individual. However, what cannot be accounted for I suppose is where someone is clinically dead with no visible brain activity who experiences activities in our reality (like OBE’s in the operating theatre – as some have described in great detail) once the brain has flat-lined. What could possibly explain such a scenario other than concluding one of two things: the brain can continue to function for a time after clinical death when all observable life signs have ceased, or that indeed consciousness is non-local.

I cannot say that I have had an NDE, but I can say that whilst under the influence of Lucia No 3, I had what can only be described as near death experience “experience”. I saw a tunnel. I saw white amorphous shapes what could be regarded as beings of light. Could it be that by immersing oneself in total light, one can attain an altered state and voyage into the void, into what could possibly be the collective consciousness?

OPINION: I do believe that people do have NDE’s. I do believe that certain NDE’s are difficult to counter given some of the incredible and fantastic evidence. The more and more I read, the more and more I begin to believe that there is something else out there, and NDE’s help in some way to proving that. However, I would not go as far as to say that it is beyond reasonable doubt at this stage. No doubt if I had a full on NDE then I could be persuaded, but I’d rather not just yet if I’m honest…