Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Arrow

"An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it's going to launch you into something great." - Unknown

The Arrow
I'm not going to lie. Right now I am struggling. My emotions have been all over the place, swinging between rage, excitement, loneliness and indifference. I have an aversion to being with groups of people, I'm on the verge of tears a lot, and my initial reactions seem judgmental and not in alignment with who I really am. And I just don't know why...

I feel a shift happening in my consciousness but it's as though my ego is fighting me every step of the way. I feel like running. But I know that won't solve anything. The truth is, right now, I have no fucking idea what I'm doing, what I need or even what I want. And for me, this "not knowing" is torture.

I've lost sight of the REAL me; the fun me, the me who laughs loudly and frequently, the curious me, the me who loves to be surrounded by friends, the playful me.

Playful Samtosha :)
I'm left wondering why she has chosen to desert me at this time. I'm making some serious breakthroughs, and I appear to have lost my sense of humour right when I need it the most.
I know all the things I "should" be doing: surrounding myself with people who care about me, doing the things that make me happy and making the most of being at the lake while I still have the chance. But frankly, I can't be bothered. My indifference is frustrating me and making me angry, which in turn makes me easily agitated and want to withdraw from social situations. This is making me feel isolated, disconnected and lonely. I'm stuck. I need help but I know no one can save me but me!

In the past when I've felt like this I have always changed something in my life - moved to a different house, town, or country, left my job or removed myself from an unhealthy relationship. Change has always been relatively easy for me to implement. However, none of these things are the problem right now, and this is why I'm struggling. Not too long ago, my response to this situation would be to get drunk, get high or find someone to have sex with... Or all three! I know this isn't the answer, but in the moment it made me feel better.

Jim Beam in a can... classy.
These days I'm much more aware of my patterns and how destructive they can be. But cacao and kirtan just aren't doing it for me either! I realise that this is my opportunity to find new ways of coping and climbing my way out of this hole of emotional turmoil. I also know that this is a phase, it won't last forever and there is nothing that time and acceptance can't heal.

My friend Jimmy, who has been a dear friend of mine since I arrived at the lake, is an amazing artist and handpoke tattooist extraordinaire :) I have wanted an arrow tattoo on my left forearm for a couple of years now and he helped me design something very special.

Jimmy Jumanji
The arrow idea came about when I was going through an earlier period of struggle, and symbolised the need to be pulled back before we can be propelled forward towards that which we are aiming for. I wanted it on my left arm connecting to my heart, and to incorporate a representation of a compass to remind me to always follow the direction of my heart, and aim for what brings me the most joy. Jimmy made sure to include some sacred geometry in there as well to represent spiritual awakening.

My new magical amazing blazing arrow is a reminder that now is a time of contraction. A brief moment of absorption as I take in my surroundings, preparing to focus on what it is I want. All I need now is patience; as the minutes feel like hours, and the hours feel like days, all I need to remember to do is breathe!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

(Not So Pretty) Patterns

"...awakening happens only through facing the chaos of our neurotic patterns." - John Welwood,

Today I´m delving deep into the juicy stuff - my relationship patterns! How I´ve come to be aware of them and my journey to (hopefully) breaking them. Here we go...

Initially when I started writing this post there were 3 relationships in my mind where I´d clearly chosen to put myself in the same situation that triggered certain emotional reactions and beliefs that are not healthy or serving me in any way. But as I review more of my previous relationships (long/short/serious/casual) I can see how there are elements of this pattern in many of them. I have been perpetually abusing myself in this way because subconsciously, for some reason, I believe that I am unworthy of the love I desire.

It all started with Boy A. When I first met A he appeared to be glowing - I thought he was an angel! It didn´t take long for me to fall for him, as I´d never met anyone I could talk to like this before. I felt he understood me completely and I concluded that he had to be my soul mate. Alas, he quickly explained that he could only commit to friendship, offering consolation in the fact that 99% of relationships break up anyway. Friendships last longer, he said. Being a bit younger I accepted this as an action of true love and continued the friendship, despite the pain I felt everytime he flirted or got together with someone else. I was sure that if I just waited he would eventually realise how great we were together and stop messing around.

Me in my younger days

As you can probably guess, this never happened. It finally got to the point where it hurt too much, and I knew I had to put some distance between us so that I could give myself the space to get over him and move on.

When Boy B came along (okay, there may have been more of the alphabet in between but I´m focusing on these boys for the purpose of this post!) I thought I knew what I was doing. And I did to a certain extent... after all, I was older now and more confident in who I was. With B there was an instant connection too and I remember feeling so drawn to him. We were like magnets that didn´t want to be pulled apart. 

However, not long into the relationship my intuition was telling me that something was wrong. I sensed an incompatibility and a strong desire to stand up for myself, rebalance and be in my own power. But my desire for intimacy and connection was stronger. 

As time went on it became clear that B wanted the freedom to be intimate with other people too. I was deeply hurt and knew that I had to let him go. It brought up so many feelings of unworthiness - why wasn´t I enough? Once I had time to process it all, I realised that if I could love anyone that intensely, surely it makes sense to love myself that way first!

The older and slightly wiser me

If this was the lesson, then Boy C was the test! From day one I knew that we weren´t right for each other romantically and yet I allowed our connection to deepen. I opened up to C emotionally and energetically, enjoying being vulnerable and connecting on new levels. For some reason I struggled to stay away from this one. I was trying so hard to be in the moment, but I can now see how my emotions were in conflict with my intellect and intuition. Okay, I admit it. I´m an intimacy junkie. And when I find someone offering me my drug of choice its hard to turn down.

Sure enough I found myself in that familiar place of inadequacy. There were other ladies in C´s life and he wanted to explore those connections as well. Even the idea of this hurt me and I knew myself well enough by now that I couldn´t stand to witness this unfold... again! I was done.

I am finally ready to break this pattern. I am done with this feeling of unworthiness. I need to choose to love myself more. I should never have to beg for attention, for affection or for love. I´ve been consenting to arrangements that are exasperating, humiliating and disempowering. 

The truth is I may not have even wanted something more from some of these boys, but I do want more from someone I am being intimate with. I just have to get better at choosing! I have a moral obligation to ask for what I want, and if its not on offer I need to walk away and not consent to an arrangement that is fundamentally unfair.

My friend Esther gave me an amazing gift the other day - she told me there is no such thing as rejection, it is only a redirection. Although I have come up against many challenges, I know that they have only accelerated my personal and spiritual growth. Awareness of this pattern has pushed me to start cultivating more conscious relationships, with others as well as myself. So I am grateful for all of them... every last one of the boy alphabet. John Welwood writes in his article on, "if our woundedness remains hidden, it cannot be healed; the best in us cannot come out unless the worst comes out as well."

Prettier patterns

Pattern revelation:
The fabric of my life is woven by me.
My beliefs create the patterns.
My relationships are the colours I choose.
My reactions are the stitches used to make the costume I decided to wear.
The role I often choose to play is victim.
My beliefs allow me to continue to play this role.

So I must ASK for what I want, BELIEVE I deserve it, LOVE myself and be PATIENT.
With this as my new mantra, let´s see what unfolds...

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Vulnerability : Courage : Creativity

"Only those strong of heart allow themselves to truly be seen and be vulnerable." Samtosha 2016 ;)

Last time I wrote about comparison and my need to conform in order to feel that sense of belonging and validation that I craved. Through my experiences I have come to know that this need is based in fear...

The day I arrived at Lake Atitlan after travelling all day from Mexico, I stayed the night in a tiny hostel in Panajachel. This is where I met Frederico from El Salvador. He had "quit the real world", bought some land in northern Guatemala and lived off what he grew on that land, making a little extra money for his coffee habit teaching permaculture. We spoke about following our own path and how difficult it was sometimes - that feeling of lonliness that can make us doubt our decisions.

Frederico encouraged me to not be afraid of being the sheep that walks in a different direction to the rest of the flock. He told me to listen to my intuition and gut feelings, ignoring logic and what I believe to be possible/impossible.

I told him about my Quest, the search for my tribe and my difficulties in striving towards something that is, as yet, unseen. I admitted I was lonely and started to cry. Frederico leaned over and gave me the most amazing hug. He told me I am safe, I am loved and I am perfect. To feel that kind of love from a stranger was overwhelming and made me realise that I want to be able to give that kind of genuine love and support to someone who doesn´t even realise they need it. Everything I want, someone else wants too... maybe everyone else.

My conversation with Frederico brought so many things together for me. In allowing myself to be vulnerable I was able to receive so much more! I realised that it takes more strength and courage to let people see your weaknesses and vulnerability, than it does to follow the majority and only show your best bits to the world.

I can also see how this links in with our ability to be creative. I have been writing, producing poetry and journalling for years - since I was 11 I think! Putting anything I´d written "out there" was terrifying to me and starting this blog was a BIG DEAL. But I knew that in order for creativity to flow it needs to be used and encouraged. I must do what I love to feel full and to be able to love fully. 

Writing amongst the pillows

The key was that I had to do this for me. I´m not writing for recognition or with the expectation that it will lead to anything, or that anyone will even read this. And I had to not care if I was criticised, or received negative feedback. This is my outlet for expressing myself creatively, sharing my story and hopefully inspiring some people along the way.

This Full Moon in Scorpio (21/22 April) is perfectly timed for this post. It "encourages a softening in attitude towards oneself; a willingness to admit needs previously denied and vulnerabilities kept hidden... We are all in this together and not so different from each other. The need to show a certain coping and tough face to the world keeps many in a prison of lonliness, unable to connect authentically for fear of the mask slipping to reveal a scared, flawed and vulnerable human being. This Moon assures us it´s okay to be any or all of those things." (Sarah Varcas,

Full Moon rising

So in seeking solace in a Salvadorian, I came to this:
Creativity is the ability to take a risk and having the courage to be vulnerable. If you are not prepared to take that leap of faith, you´ll never learn how creative you are!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Comparison vs Samtosha

Before this journey of mine began I´d heard the saying "comparison is the thief of joy". But the more I pondered it, the more I realised it didn´t go far enough. It seems to me that when it comes to any thoughts or decisions about myself or my life, any kind of comparison leads to confusion, discontent and, when allowed to run rampant, misery and suffering.

Anything I choose to do is exactly the right choice for me. The same goes for everyone else.

I knew that this was something I had to work on. I needed to release my need to compare everything I did to others around me because it was at a point where I was making myself miserable.

I was 33 years old. A single nomad with no savings or career to speak of, living on the other side of the world to my family in the UK. Anytime I did have money I would spend it on travelling... and wine! The majority of my friends were either married (or as good as), with children, owned a house and/or at a pretty impressive level in their career. (Pffff, what does career even mean anyway!?)
After one too many wines :)
So I was in a daily habit of looking around and wondering why I was so different. Why when I was 30 did I run away from commitment to a wonderful man, whom I still adore? Why could I not stick with something long enough to call it a "career"? Why could I not save enough money to buy a house or anything worth more than $1000?

I now know the answers to all these questions and so much has became clear to me during this Quest.

On the first night of my Yoga Teacher Training at Lake Atitlan, there was a fire ceremony and we set our intentions for the training. Mine wasn´t anything to do with yoga or being a teacher. Instead I knew I wanted to let go of my need to conform, to stop my constant comparison (whether that be in a yoga class or my life choices) and accept myself for everything that I am.
Fire ceremony at the Mystical Yoga Farm, Lake Atitlan
As I studied the Yoga Sutras I read about the Niyamas as part of the eight limbs of yoga, which if practiced "destroy impurities and there dawns the light of wisdom, leading to discriminative discernment." Discernment... yes, that´s what I need! The Niyamas are observances to practice, and the one that stood out for me was Samtosha - the inner contentment of the Self. It is only the mind that brings discontent as it is "entangled in desire for what is not, attachment and fear."

Through my illness during the training I was able to let go of comparison in regards to my yoga practice. And in witnessing everyone´s transformation I became more aware of how unique everyone´s journey is - no two experiences are the same. Our choices are based on our experiences, so comparison is futile!

In the last few days I realised that my perspective had shifted and I had released so much through the training and my illness. On the penultimate day, we were given the option to take on a spiritual name and Samtosha seemed like the perfect fit. It would serve as a daily reminder to discern what is my mind and what is my true nature - comparison or inner contentment. 

Thursday, 7 April 2016

My Moon

A very personal poem in honour of this New Moon Supermoon in Aries...

I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
But this isn't a rhyme about love
This is how my moon goes.
Each month comes 
With a day of writhing in pain
An aching throughout my body
And emotions to make me feel insane.
Nausea sets in
And sometimes I vomit
Abdominal cramps and tension
Diahorrea tends to come with it.
This story I tell myself
Starts when I was fourteen
My moon finally arrived
But I was afraid for it to be seen.
It wasn't beautiful
I felt like a late-bloomer
Not womanly enough
For it to have started sooner.
For years I resented being a girl
Not wearing skirts and shaving my hair
Hating bras and high heels
Preferring Doc Marten Air Wair.
I was rebelling against nature
And what God had made me
Wishing I'd been born a boy
... And then I lost my virginity.
Suddenly I had more reasons
To resent womanhood and this monthly curse
If anything were to happen
It would affect me the worst.
I'd be the one to deal with
Any potential pregnancy
The guy could literally walk away
I'd be left holding the baby.
So in order to gain some control
I went on the Pill
But a daily dose of artificial hormones
Had me resenting it still.
And then when it came to sex
I had to beg them to wear protection?
Because there's no such thing as maintenance payments
For STDs or reproductive dysfunction.
Eventually I came off the Pill
After being detached from my natural cycle
I was so disconnected from my rhythms
But the pain returned in a flood not a trickle. 
After almost 5 years without
I'm now synced with the moon
But the pains don't seem to be shifting
Anytime soon.
Clearly I have some beliefs
That are deeply embedded within me
Resentment and conditioning to be healed
Around what a woman "should" be.
Perhaps I still don't feel like a woman
Maybe I'm angry about the injustice
The years of repression and patriarchy
That has brought us to this.
The complete imbalance
Of the masculine and feminine
We need to empower both aspects
The god/goddess within.
Maybe then I'll feel
Like the divinely fertile female I am
And my moon will be my friend
I'll be Samantha not Sam.