A whiter shade of pale

We tripped the light fantastic,
Turned cartwheels ‘cross the doors (of perception),
I was feeling kind of far out,
And the mind called out for more…

My spiritual journey has been on the road now for exactly two years this week. I look in the mirror from time to time, the face is still the same (albeit with a few more lines and the levels of monochrome in the facial fur department have increased), but looking beyond the physical manifestation lies an inner self which is, to me at least, almost unrecognisable.

I reviewed my commitment today to both myself and others, a commitment which was a sincere pledge undertaken during those dark times and I’m happy to say that I’m on track. My personal outlook is and will continue to be my priority list. I’m a firm believer that it is our priorities that define who we are and how we are perceived by others, and when these priorities change, the universal order of things becomes chaotic, fragile. Often when one changes priority, it’s most often as a result of the ego kicking in, want and desire taking president over need and reason. My priority list is quite simple really:

  1. The Wife and Children.
  2. My health, well-being and search for enlightenment.
  3. My friends.
  4. Everything else.
  5. Work.

Work really is a distraction to what is important to me, but a necessary evil nonetheless. So when I do have to work away from my number one priority, I try to keep myself distracted, to fend off the pull and energy drain of “The Corporation”. This week saw me climbing over the roof of Millennium Dome on Tuesday with my brother-in-law, and Tuesday marked another milestone in my search for “the source”.

Following on from reshuffling of the priority list deck two years ago (whether that took place on a prioritisation table I’m not certain), I took up yoga, meditation and reiki which really help ground me, the glue to who I am now. At that time, I also saw an opportunity to open my still sceptical mind to alternative ways of thinking, alternative ways of operating, which inevitably led me to the door of my good friend in Eastham.

The catalyst to this change in consciousness was a gig in Chester. We went to see Nick Harper (a personal favourite of ours) but instead of taking up our usual front row seats, decided to stop at the bar and talk. And talk. And talk. Nick played majestically on his “Last Guitar”, as our conversation delved deeper and deeper, from quantum physics to Everetts Many World Interpretation, as Anthony Peake stroked Schrödinger’s Cat in a parallel universe somewhere.

Fascinated by all of this, I drove us both home (stopping to relieve myself on the way due to all the soft drinks) and bid my Peroni pal a fond farewell, with a mission to find out more about this Anthony Peake character. The next day I found that he had quite a few books out and more immediately available was a plethora of podcasts, vodcasts and articles on the web. I duly ordered ITLAD and downloaded most of his audio files. It was quite a departure from the former me, no woo-woo name calling was to come from my lips.

There was one particular podcast which drew my attention, it was his theories relating to the pineal gland. The pineal gland makes/secretes melatonin, the chemical which puts us to sleep each night. Peake posits that there is more to this pine-cone-shaped walnut than meets the (third) eye, in that it has the ability under certain conditions to
self-produce “metatonin”, a DMT-based neurochemical which can put the “secrete-ee” into altered states of consciousness.

One such “under certain conditions” is Lucia No 3, a Lucid Light Machine. This device is comprised of several halogen bulbs placed within what resembles a shower-head; it combines a stroboscope with a constant white light which induces a transcendental experience for the viewer.

So a few weeks back, I sent out a list of potential things to do with my chums in work whilst I was in London this week, including running events, the cinema and a “trip” to Light Eye Mind studio in Finsbury Park. I wasn’t hopeful that anyone would go with me to see Lucia, but was happy when “M” decided she would go with me, the lads stating that they would meet us up after for a spot of tiffin.

Eager to read as much of the remainder of ITLAD that I could before our visit, I managed to cram in a hundred pages on the redeye down to London, both eager and a bit apprehensive about what was to come.

Our journey to Finsbury Park took a while, but we arrived a little early and had to wait a wee while (apt as we were desperate for the toilet) for our hosts for the evening. Talking outside the store, “M” and I swapped our own stories about our own experiences, of spirituality, of alternative therapies and holistics.

We were met by “A”, “N” and “D” from Light Eye Mind, and within minutes it was clear that there were no egos involved here which was great. There was no big sell, all very humble and approachable folks. “A” resembling a young Russell Brand (hope that is taken as a compliment should he ever read this :D) introduced us to both the studio (which was displaying some cool artwork by Danny Wilder) and Lucia No 3. His suggestion of an initial three minute tester was well met by both of us, a sample of a longer session to follow if we felt ok with the machine.

Waiver forms dutifully signed (that we didn’t have epilepsy or deep rooted psychological problems), I stepped up as guinea pig and took to my seat. I decided to bring my own music, my approach was one of deep meditation (if that was possible) so on went my Kundalini Yoga playlist from Spotify, as did Lucia. In bright light with the eyelids closed, I guess we would all see a peachy glow, and before the strobe kicked in, that’s exactly what I saw, but once the strobe kicked in, everything changed. Everything changed. I saw art. My art. My eyelid was the easel, my mind the painter. Even though the tester session was brief, I managed to see / create fractal vistas of magnificent colours, a gallimaufry of spirals and shapes, more colours, more shapes, downwards spirals.

When the light dimmed, I took a deep breath and passed the cans over to “M” who selected some of “A’s” own tunes by a band called Carbon Based Life Forms and assumed the position. The three minutes went fast and she was done. She opened her eyes with the same “wow-look” I’d had and immediately wanted more, to get back to that place she had just been, and so she remained in-seat and took a further fifteen to twenty minute session.

I talked outside to “A” and shared my journey over the last two years with him, and he listened, really listened. It’s so refreshing to talk to folks like him, folks in-tune and attuned to one’s own frequency, not ridiculed or pilloried for looking at things in a different way. I told him I’d been reading a lot of Anthony Peake and studies into consciousness (Piero Scariffi), watched a great many videos regarding DMT and ayahuasca (Rick Strassman) and experienced first-hand universal energy flow via yoga, meditation, reiki (advising that I was now Reiki Level 2), and having listened to podcasts pointing the way to Lucia No 3, I’d decided give it a try and here I was.

When “M’s” session came to an end, “A” went to her to gently wake her as she  remained static. She opened her eyes, there and not there, seemingly having a full on hypnogogic experience, managing to finally reconnect her out of body consciousness with her physical form. We made sure she had settled before I took to the chair, the details of her trip to be shared after my own journey.

As the session was a lot longer, I decided to settle into a seated yoga position, and with mudra fully deployed I relaxed into it. Once again I began to create my own William Neal / Roger Dean prog-rock-album-cover type vistas. Isometric shapes began to form, mandalas created by thin illuminous “Tron-esqe” lines appeared, followed by what can only described as wormholes, deep blues and greens spiralling inwards and outwards. Then I saw a swastika, not the revolting symbol of the Nazism, but the softer ancient Hindu symbol, growing in size from central core before disappearing.

The most profound part was yet to come. I felt myself departing into a middle state, not conscious nor subconscious nor unconscious but somewhere in the middle. I remember being surrounded by a warm glow, with a central elipse of orange light (an eye if you will, or tunnel even), a place of peace, and for the first time I saw (or created) white light, three forms or shapes of white light presented themselves. Initially the three small star-like shapes (reminiscent of looking at a far off light source from underwater) moved and twisted, and then grew to be larger amorphous forms, the one on the left staying significantly smaller than the two on the right. It was then that the full on kundalini experience kicked in. I felt a surge of energy in my spine, emanating out from the base and traversing upwards through each chakra, through each of the seven tattoos on my back and out to the meridians.

Whether I was conscious, hypnogogic, unconscious or in another place altogether, I couldn’t say. Gradually the white forms faded and the whole scene turned a blood red orange and then upon reaching the darkness I came out of my altered state and opened my eyes. The energy did not stop however, it continued whilst I gave “A” and “M” commentary of my experience, as it did all of the way back to Finsbury Park train station.

I asked “M” about her experience on the way back and she said she too had seen swastikas, but associated these to the Second World War, and saw ghostly images (like those on film negatives) of soldiers passing her line of vision one by one.

We both felt quite tired and drained, but nonetheless we made it to the Brazilian restaurant where our work chums waited patiently (albeit with beers in hand), for the inevitable closed-mind ribbing and they did not disappoint. We were both fully prepared for the abuse, and took it all, good natured as it was.

One thing “A” told us was to watch out for our dreams that night, as a lot of people have very strange and vivid visions post-Lucia sessions. When I got in to work the next day, I asked “M” how she felt and did she have any interesting dreams, but sadly her dreams were even crapper than mine. She dreamt that she was in work testing a new IT product, mine was running a 10km race which involved climbing up a hill covered in snow, all rather boring…

ADDENDUM: Always a Cynic     

I got in late last night to a message from a friend of mine who’s into his metal in a big way. A favourite band of his is called Cynic (oh the irony) and he sent me a link to their latest video, them having taken a fork in the road to a more progressive rock style. The video itself was surreal, fractal art central, mandalas everywhere. Coincidence or just another universal synchronicity presenting itself?

The Magic Feather

Little rook in the midst of the parliament,
They harp and chatter, but everybody knows he’s going to be sent, away,

Cos he’s a wild, he’s got a red eye.

The trees are ringing, with the cackles and the twilight,
Little rook, takes one last look and takes flight, he’s away.

Cos he’s wild, he’s got a red eye.

Can you believe that his family, cannot be allowed to be together,
By the very same tribe that helped the elephant fly,
With a beautiful light and a magic feather

The dark old pie, in the tallest ashtray alone,
In the upturned branches, sceptres for the thrown.

It’s alright, it’s alright,

How can it be that a family cannot be allowed to be together,
By the very same tribe that helped the elephant fly,
With a beautiful light and a magic feather.

——————————————————————————————————————

As breadcrumbs go, I recently experienced a rather significant trail. Around three weeks ago, the mother of a friend of mine passed away. Around three weeks ago, friend of mine passed me an album by Nick Harper. Around three weeks ago, my wife and I started to find our garden, local parks and promenades were all covered in feathers. No coincidence there.

That was until everything was drawn together. My wife and I attended the funeral of our friend’s mother, a beautiful service which focused on both the celebration of her life and the respect her offspring and friends had for her. A few days after the service, our friend got in touch with us as we sat on our patio late one evening, talking. She thanked us for attending and shared something her mother had shared with her before she departed. She told her that once she had gone, for my friend to be on the lookout for feathers, as they will be a message from her that all was well on the other side and as long as she noticed the feathers, she was with her.

A short while later (no more than five minutes), I made the short journey from the patio to the fridge to top up the wife’s wine glass and saw a small white feather float past me, landing on the floor quite close to me. I guess the old me would have been pretty spooked by such a random coincidence, but no longer. I beckoned the wife over to see the spot where the feather landed and to my extended surprise saw another two feathers in the near vicinity.

After discussing the feathers and inevitably ITLAD (Is There Life After Death), we changed topic and talked about our joint excitement over some up and coming live events, namely concerts with John Legend and Lenny Kravitz. I also told her that Nick Harper (an incredible folk guitarist from the UK) was playing Liverpool in October and should we perhaps get tickets as the venue is really small and it would be a good opportunity to catch up with some friends we hadn’t seen for a while. At that point I reached for the iPhone as I had added all of his albums to it earlier in the week, including Miracles for Beginners, the old new album I had only heard live before. I duly hit the forward triangle on my phone and we sat a while, and then it happened. Track number four came on. Magic feather…

I listened to the album as I worked this morning, and was prompted to put fingers to keyboard over lunch before I forgot. The amount of feathers I have seen over the last few weeks has been incredible. Everywhere I look (including at one point on the sole of my Converse), feathers can be found, mostly white fluffy ones.

OK it may be the season for it. OK I live two hundred metres from the beach. It’s the sheer volume of feathers and random links that make you think about reality in a different light.

I have read the lines from the song today (posted above) and can draw even further links to all of this:

“The dark old pie, in the tallest ashtray alone” – my friends mum had a dark complexion and smoked cigarettes.

“How can it be that a family cannot be allowed to be together” – the sad departing of my friends mum.

“With a beautiful light and a magic feather” – the funeral reference that the sky has a new star and to keep an eye out for magic feathers…

Breadcrumb Diary: Week 9

26/02/14
None recorded…

27/02/14
None recorded…

28/02/14
None recorded…

01/03/14
#1 Breadchums
The redoubtable Ruddo and I oft have discussions on all things odd, peculiar and unexplainable (ourselves mostly). Late last year on the night of the Nick Harper gig in Chester, we discussed a great many things ‘new age’, from consciousness studies, through déjà vu (vecu) theories and on to quantum mechanics, until the point at which Peroni rendered his mind/vocal chord coordination temporarily inoperable.

I recall (although it’s more than likely he doesn’t given his advance state of inebriation) that we discussed my breadcrumb theory and the recent (then) coincidences both he and I had had. It was at that point in the evening/early hours that I set out a task for us both to monitor such instances until the years end, to see how many synchronicities and coincidences we could capture and subsequently report back to each other. Sadly it was forgotten about (maybe I didn’t bring it to the ‘priority table’ next time we met).

I know he reads my blog, so I thought it was only right to include one of his very own breadcrumbs that he posted to Facebook today, and a good one it was too. Paste Verbatim:

Breadcrumbs… You want breadcrumbs Mike?? I’ve got a whole loaf here…

We were getting the extension built on our house, and the geezer wot came round to do the doors and windows is Dave Paton, of Paton Glass fame, in Spital.

He’s a handsome lad, all long, curly brown hair, hairy face, chubby of cheek. In fact, every single person who came round here to do jobs, plasterer, plumber, electrician etc, they all thought I was Dave Paton come to do the doors, rather than the customer.

Oh how we chortled.

Still, that’s old news now, life has moved on. Anyway, this morning I was out and about, going about my business, with a car packed tightly with cardboard, polystyrene, plastic etc, remnants from the new kitchen, and I was on my way to the tip to deposit said rubbish there.

Spital is on the way to the tip. I’d been there for about 5 minutes, when I took the latest armful of cardboard boxes up to the relevant container (hey, I’m no reckless miscreant), and a completely random bloke I’ve never met before, also depositing unwanted cardboard into the giant receptacle, said “Dave…”

I ignored this, momentarily, assuming he was talking to somebody else. But, knowing how strange this world can often be, I turned around and said “Sorry mate, were you talking to me?”

“Sorry mate” he said, “I thought you were Dave Paton!”

How I chuckled once again. Then chinned him shouting “that’s my bloody car, you cheeky get!”.

No, of course I didn’t do that. We laughed and went our separate ways.

It really, really IS a very strange world sometimes!

That it be, Ruddo, that it be…

02/02/14
None recorded…

03/02/14
None recorded…

04/02/14
#1 Only I guide, my inner self
Last summer I experienced probably the most enlightening experience of my life so far (from a spiritual perspective that is) when I was ’attuned’ by a reiki master to Level 1 Practitioner. Words can’t really describe what went on that day, but from that day onwards I was a different person, still an agnostic (for the time being anyway) but closer to my inner self and higher self (if such a thing exists) than I had ever been. I remember last summer so fondly, being completely carefree, stress levels at absolute zero, loving my wife, children and friends more than I had done in many a year.

People have asked me to describe reiki and the experiences I have. It’s difficult. The way it happens for me is like an energy rush but not like adrenaline. I typically find a calm place, away from noise and light if possible, find a comfortable position (depending on my environment) and hit play on my ‘Mikey Bee Zone’ Spotify playlist, those tunes that resonate with me most (mostly sitar/Indian mantra based).

Once prepared, I then start my breathing and grounding exercises and the energy starts to flow in. It usually starts on the crown of my head and almost as quickly, the pineal gland (third eye) is activated joins in for company. From that point, my upper body starts to flood with a tingling sensation, the energy descending my spine and sending offshoots down the meridian lines to each limb. My experiences seem to come in waves as opposed to a constant ‘always on’ feeling. Sometimes these can be quite intense although I can control these now (although it did freak me out at first). One amazing thing though is that my tinnitus helps not hinders. As reiki is, so is tinnitus. They are both frequencies, both products of energy. I have found that when I want to get a ‘natural buzz’ I have the control to turn my tinnitus up to 11 and the power and energy rush that flows within me (and out to others when I practice on them) intensifies, especially when the Hindu mantras kick in.

So last week I started my Level 2 training, whereby my reiki master started to attune me to the reiki power symbols, which from what I can understand so far, increases the energy flow for the practitioner, allowing them to also start to send out energies beyond the immediate vicinity.

Part of my homework was to download a book on the Kindle called ‘Reiki for Life’ which I did and started to read on the train today. The first few chapters were great, even included how reiki ties up with consciousness theories and quantum physics.

Whilst reading the first few chapters, I had a vision/thought of a friend of mine who was going through a bit of a rough time. We talked at the weekend and I had said to her that I would book her in for a reiki session. The spooky thing was that as I was sending a Facebook message to my reiki master to arrange a session for her, a new message came through at that exact moment from said friend, thanking me for listening to her and for giving her some of my pearls of wisdom…

#2 Try what alone
Continuing on with both my train journey and my new reiki manual, I went on to read with interest the writers theories on how our consciousness can manifest itself in the physical realm and that there was a direct connection between the mind, soul and the body.

In the book she cites the example of someone suffering from stress often suffers flu/cold like symptoms, and the more the person operates in the negative space, the higher than chance of illness. She also explained that physical manifestations may also be a sign from the higher self; an ‘other worldly’ message advising us to take a step back and analyse whether there was a specific reason (cause) for a particular ailment (effect).

At that point I briefly stopped reading. My last physical manifestation (January) was ‘allegedly’ cellulitis, a queer affliction in which the flesh becomes enflamed, irritated and swollen, resulting (in my case) to a trip to the doctors to get some antibiotics to reduce the swelling and ease the immediate pain. Over the next week or so, it did improve (aided with some self-reiki in between), and gradually my leg returned to being a leg (although even now there is a small hard mass left at the epicentre of the infection which no doubt will disperse over time).

The reason why I stopped reading was because of the significance. Before the yuletide activities kicked in, I had decided that in 2014, I would do a triathlon, that would be my next physical challenge. So I busied myself with preparatory tasks, which included buying magazines, cancelling yoga in favour of a gym card, and creating a 22 week intense training plan. So today, after reading those words, the realisation, my moment of epiphany was that my cellulitis was a sign, my physical body (or more to the point my subconscious or perhaps higher self) was sending me a message not to do it. But why?

I know why. The last time I set my self such a physical challenge was the Spartan Race Series in 2102. I had it in my head that if my body was fit, then the probability of me living longer life was a lot higher than the previous beer-swilling, pie-eating me. So I took it upon myself to selfishly book myself on the series challenge which involved 6 obstacle races across the length and breadth of the UK (at great expense). Sure at the end of it I was physically fitter. Sure it was a hell of an achievement finishing 88 out of 130,000 Spartans worldwide. But what I had failed to realise was the lack of focus on the truly important things in life. I was blinkered, a man on a mission, not seeing that his marriage was falling apart, and it so very nearly did.

So in a moment of clarity today, on a train heading back down to the place which started out my spiritual rot and path of selfishness, I realised that I would not take part in the triathlon, I would delete the Excel file with the 22 week training programme at my earliest convenience…

#3 Not the 9 o’clock News
TV in the UK is crap. Official. There I was sitting in a hotel room flicking through the channels on the TV, endlessly flicking through the channels on the TV, finding nothing on every channel on the TV. Bored, I decided to start to read my reiki manual again. For some reason I could not concentrate, could not get back into it at all, even though it was a fascinating read.

I had no idea of the time. I may have been sitting on the bed in the hotel for days, weeks even. A wave of sadness came over me at that point, not being there with my wife who I had not been apart from (with work at least) for 3 months. I reached over for my phone (still not realising when it was we last contacted each other or what time it was) and as I did so, just before my fingers made contact with the screen, my 9 o’clock alarm went off. As it does every night to the sound of Dean Martin’s voice crooning out the lines from “That’s Amore”, my daily reminder to kiss my wife wherever I was on our little blue dot. Today being no exception, instead of a physical connection, and emoticon of a pair of lips had to suffice…

#4 A Brief History of Time
I had a job interview on Monday, and in preparation I created a slide deck with some bullet points on, reminders of what I had done over the course of my career. On the opening page, it had my name on and a strap line underneath which said “A Brief History of Time”. So after sending my wife a kiss via the Vodafone network, I closed my reiki manual and launched the Netflix app on my Kindle and started to browse for something to watch. I could have picked anything. Comedy. Drama. Stand up. Horror. Although I had seen it before, I decided upon Donnie Darko, as the Directors Cut had recently been added to the UK collection.

On it went (and for the record it’s no better than the silver screen cut but it does add some interesting snippets) and back I sat, all pillows plumped. I instantly recognised that the opening track (my favourite Echo and the Bunnymen song “The Killing Moon”) had been replaced by INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart”, which I couldn’t fathom out why as it added no extra significance in my mind.

Half way through the movie, Donnie (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) talks to his science teacher (played by Noah Wyle) about the possibility of time travel. A short while later after some discussion, the teacher gives Donnie a book called “The Philosophy of Time Travel” which was penned by an old hermit woman in the town. As he does so the camera pans left to reveal a copy of Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” sittng on the teachers desk.

“What if you could go back in time, and take all those hours of pain and darkness and replace them with something better?”…