Happy New Year 

I spent the new year morning in the sea,

I wake to the usual tug of the duvet and embrace of the pillow, I close my eyes willing sleep to come back knowing that it will be a solo swim today,

The sea raises her magnet to the sky aiming it in my direction and pulls me to her,

I find my clothes and pack my bags and off I go,

It’s grey sky’s with a slight drizzle, the wind is at a fair strength but not over bearing,

The tide is out, but she’s playful, I love these conditions and know straight away that soon I would be wading into those wild waters,

Clothes off swim shorts on and in I go,

She rushes towards me at speed, she slaps against my skin and splashes around my waist, I continue forward,

The waves rise higher so does my adrenaline,

I must stay present, if she takes me away on a high a crashing low will follow and yet one must embrace the play,

Rising high and diving under, swirling round and being engulfed by rapturous waves is exhilarating for the senses,

The starling murmeration sets off above me a floating ship riding its very on waves in the sky,

Time to return to shore, but first one must be grateful to this play of the sea and the elements,

This play will ride out for the rest of the year,

Happy new year everyone.

New Years Day in the Sea

Matt

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Floating through Depression 

I found the sea, the water the great teacher or did she find me?

It was raining when my depressed self first walk through the doors of self discovery,

It was dark when I first woke to ride down to the sea for my first wild swim, not sure if I should or could!

I knew I was lost, I felt defeated, I felt that sickening feeling of hopelessness,

I wanted it to end and yet I saw know way out,

At that moment my darkness was greater than my light,

A final throw of the dice or at least that’s how it felt would change all this and that was roughly three years ago,

I would wak and wonder down to the sea and embrace her like a lost child who had found their parents,

I would laugh and cry, scream and shout and I would shake and tremble,

I would be given insight into my nature, into my emotional self I would travel,

I was weak, but the sea was slowly giving me strength,

My rock of a family encouraged this journey despite my moods still changeable, but progress could still be seen and more importantly felt,

The gap between my darkness and light began to get closer until they were equal, at this point I had discovered more about my nature than I had conceived possible,

I know I had to swim in the darkness of my being in order to find myself floating in the lightness of my soul,

As I floated out of my depression, I say floated for I learnt very quickly this cannot be forced or rushed it must be taken a wave at a time I began to see and experience life in a much lighter way, I saw the humour rather than the frustration at life’s contradictions, I grew compassionate and developed a great sense of gratitude, 

The journey continues, its destination unknown and I am now ok with that.

To you all with a wish for a bright and happy life that knows the surf of a dark wave.

Matt

A Crisp Morning – Training in the Cold

I awake at 5.35am, I do what most do as the alarm on my phone wakes me from my slumber, I press snooze, the hope of eternal comfort is present in that action of pressing snooze and yet the adventure that waits in the midst of that cold mornings chill is to great for me to remain snuggled.

When I’m up I’m an up kinda of person, this maybe an advantage I’m not sure it’s always been my operating system and so I have little to compare it to, however I see the struggle that others face upon waking and I know I do not share those same battles, me I’m ready, I could if absolutely required to run a marathon 5 minutes after getting out of bed and with absolutely no need for either coffee or breakfast, no gloating here I’m simply painting a picture of my waking state.

Hot chocolate with roasted dandelion root, cloves, chai spices and some molasses to sweeten, all prepped and ready in my flask for after my mornings cold training antics, there is nothing quite like the sensation of a warm liquid running through a chilled system to heat the core and get you back to balance, needless to say I never leave home without it.

Standing on the jetty as it protrudes into the sea with a stary sky above and a chill in the air similar to as if you were standing outside in a ski resort, whilst the world around you is asleep apart from the gentle lapping of the seas water upon the shore all is quiet and still, it is in these moments I loose my breath and thoughts.

I must focus inwards and focus using the medium of surrender and not force, I must calm my fears and explore my curiosity, my curiosity of being at complete ease with the cold. I work through a QI Gong practice and after I sit for three rounds of deep breathing, my hands always the coldest part of me take the most convincing that what I’m about to do is a good idea.

This morning I marry focus with determination and intention, I am determined and focused to embrace the cold sea with the intention of completely embracing and accepting all experiences and dissolving all resistance.

I am in my shorts and the soft breeze offers the first blow to my determined will, I hum loudly to channel heat energy through my core and chest and leave through my breath, I slow my breathing down and with it my heart rate. I step into the sea and sink into my hips holding horse stance for a minute or so, I roar at this point and focus on my internal fire and strength then I smile to release the tension, I slow my breath and ease into the cold calm sea.

It’s electrifying, it’s nerve rattling cold, it penetrates deeper and at an awesome pace than I had anticipated. My toes and fingers begin to feel numb and my whole body feels as if sandwiched between to beds of nails, but the gaze upon the red and orange rising sun and the shimmer of light upon the seas surface offered calm and warmth, I breathed in and as I breathe out I sink beneath the sea, the rush of cold around my head and down my back was both nerving and transcendent as if existing in another reality different to the one I’m normally in.

I stay close to the breath and maintain a slow rythmn, sensation surprisingly returns to my extremities and now I even begin to feel the pulse in both my liver and stomach and whilst this to is a nerving experience I also felt very powerful and comfortable and the more I relaxed the greater the energy I received and felt.

Returning to clothes is no easy feat and I must maintain this calm and focus, it’s all to easy at this point to get complacent. The key here is focus on nothing other than the small task your are doing at that moment, don’t stop with your task keep going and before you know it your dressed.

Once dressed the greatest battle with pain commences, on the one hand you have completed your training and you relax into your warm clothing, however as these scenarios combine your body goes through a sometimes unforgiving transition, as circulation returns and flow picks up the discomfort one feels can be very intense, I have stood in a warm shower for 10 minutes before to readjust, however now I’m practicing surrender and relaxation I have noticed my bodily functions have been either not affected at all or return back to normal much quicker than before.

Tea time, ahhhhhh, that magical moment, the sun has risen, the body is feeling amazing, the mind is awake, the soul invigorated and now that brown golden warm liquid runs from the tip of your tongue to your belly and dances the dance of pure ecstasy.

I have found you can force your self to overcome obstacles and challenges, but if you embrace them and go with the flow free from expectation and attachment then the journey is that little bit sweeter.

To you all in great adventure.

Matt

The Morning Sea Swim 

The alarm rings at 5.35am, the snooze button is the obvious reaction, the desire to cling to comfort for those extra 5 minutes surfaces.

Dressed and ready with a flask of loose leaf tea, I meet my friend Steve and his partner Susan who had prepared the most amazing hot drink consisting of cacao, mushrooms and other delights.

We head on foot to the sea front and enjoy insightful conversation and lighthearted jesting.

To sit upon the pebbles of the seafront before a calm sea in the company of friends is one of life’s treasures, to breath deeply into the experience and pause in the moment of retention and feel the vibration of life all around and within you takes you on a magical journey.

Bending the knees and sinking into the hips, moving towards my discomfort allowing my body and mind to move, to feel the pain and yet to free myself of the pain, creating a freeing feeling from within.

The body warm, the mind calm. The time has come to approach and connect with the sea.

Always excited and apprehensive in equal measure. The sea does not allow you to see the moment the pebbles become sand, nor does it allow you to know the depth you will reach before that transition, she keeps everything Unknown a mystery that lures you into the depths of your very being.

The cold embraces the skin, the concept of the cold encourages tension and resistance to this natural phenomenon. On 3 I dive beneath the sea with my eyes closed and the cold gripping my being I glide through a dark abyss of which I have no power or control over and yet a willingness to accept and connect with.

I rise from under the water to grasp the air and release my fears of the Unknown. 

I return to the breath and begin to embrace the play of the sea, this ability to relax creates an inner fire which warms the whole of my being.

The birds fly over head and the sun begins its accent to the heavens, peacefulness I am, alive I feel.

That magical drink that was made for us was divine, it ran through to the very core of my being.

Grateful I Am.

Matt

The Yoga Health Coach

Simply Cold yet surprisingly WARM

Sea Compilation YouTube
The current sea temperature for Brighton is 14.4 degrees C/58 degrees F. Throw in a storm at 6am in the morning and your beginning to get the picture, COLD.

The type of cold that makes your duvet irresistible especially at 5.3oam on a winters morning.

I’m not selling this well am I? That’s cool.

After battling the comforts of warmth it’s time to head down to the sea front.

Upon arriving I set my eyes upon the waves and ears upon the wind to determine what lessons are coming your my today.

Seated meditation mixed in with deep breathing exercises sets the mind and soul for the task ahead.

After meditation we rested our backs against a wall, this was almost a monumental mistake, comfort and lethargy began to set in, but with a roar from within we mustered our strength removed our clothes down to our shorts and headed into the sea.

That first step in was breathtakingingly cold this morning, I had to chant and make sounds to build my internal fire and overcome the challenge of the cold,

Once that initial obstacle was overcome the strangest thing happens, on one level you know it’s cold and yet internally you are warm, your breathing is fluid and omits a pleasure to be playing in the sea on a November morning.

This deep awareness of self is one of the great benefits of training in the cold, you become less reactive to the stressors of life and instead open yourself with an active relaxation to the experience of life.

A warm tea is always welcome after a play in the sea.

Dive in deep and enjoy the ride.

Matt

The Yoga Health Coach

Bowing Meditation (day 100)

100 days ago begun a journey and this evening has seen its completion. The journey was simple – 100 days with a minimum of 300 bows completed each day (the bow consists of starting from a standing position then bending down to a kneeling position, bowing and then moving back up to a standing position) simple, but not easy.
In the beginning the physicality of the practice was the most demanding aspect, my knees, ankles and shoulders would all ache, but as the days and weeks passed the body grew stronger; I must admit I originally was not sure my right knee would make it through 100 days straight I have had an on going injury and general weakness there for years, but to my surprise and despite the pain my right knee has grown in strength and range of movement and now the pain is almost gone.
One of the most interesting experiences I had came when I was suffering, the thing is bowing is similar to juice fasting! It cleanses the body and mind and pushes out any toxicity that may have been residing in the cellular tissues, when the body detoxifies it is common to suffer a healing ‘crisis’ it’s not really a ‘crisis’ that’s simply the popular term used; it’s simply an uncomfortable healing experience that feels a lot like the flu, but despite the flu (head cold, weaknesses, aching ect) I bowed and even though that session was one of the toughest to get through I was amazed at how it cleared all my symptoms in one session.
Bowing on Christmas Eve and day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were new experiences for me; I would be upstairs bowing whilst the family were down stairs taking part in he festivities, I am glad I bowed I felt great for looking after my body, mind and soul and I learnt that no matter the occasion I could do it.
I must also confess that almost every day I did not look forward to bowing, once I bowed at 4.30am it was energetically amazing, but I cursed being awake at that time – my soul was still sleeping. My preference was after 7pm in the evening after my son had gone to bed and dinner had digested, but over the 100 days I think I covered most hours of the day even finishing some session at 12 in the evening, but no matter what time I bowed I lacked enthusiasm, but I never gave up something every day inside of me kept urging me to take to the mat and complete my bows.
I have been gifted and cursed with a complex, analytical mind that has only recently discovered that it has never rested, it has never really been present, it has never truly listened or seen the now, but as I neared the end of my 100 days I began to find quiet moments during the practice, moments that were peaceful, effortless and free, where I new I was in my body and the experience and not thinking and stuck in my mind, if you like its akin to hearing without thinking about what you heard, for example you hear a car but you do not think of the car instead you simply be with the noise the car makes. This was amazing and I have enjoyed developing this side of the practice and will continue to do so.
I could keep writing about the experiences I have had over the past 100 days but I am not going to, instead I am going to offer my gratitude to the practice of bowing meditation, it has taken me on an unexpected journey and changed the course of my path.

Matt

Bowing Meditation (day 93)

Day 93 signals the final week of the 100 day journey of bowing 300 times each day and it really feels like the end of a journey.
The last week of bowing has been an up and down affair; there were days when it flowed and there were days where it simply hurt, but even on the days of pain I feel better at the end of the session, I have experienced bowing meditation to be a very healing, cleansing and strengthening practice.

Today’s practice was interesting the first 103 bows I completed in class, normally we do not bow in class so this was a surprise and at the time not a welcome one; yet the practice was amazing I felt weightless for most of the class and observed I only got distracted once or twice. I was then left with 197 bows to complete this evening and to my surprise I had the same experience to that of my earlier experience in class – weightless/effortless and a mind that was calm and simply present for most of the practice (still the odd fleeting thought, but a significant difference).

I have no expectation that I have turned a corner the mere experience of the last 93 days has taught me that, but what I did notice was it was a broken practice in the sense I did a portion then stopped and completed the rest later and in the later practice I had to briefly stop to get something for my little boy. I also observed I had broken some old habits, I was not in a rush it all seemed to be a moment of letting go of the old (the broken part) and the rebuilding or you could say the creation that follows destruction, but as I said everything changes and I for one cannot see what lies ahead.

Here’s to the final week and all it has to offer or uncover.

To you all in great health

Matt