i travel, therefore i am

Sometimes people ask me where i live, and i don’t really know what to say—not because i’m travelling, because i don’t really feel like i’m doing that anymore. I mean i’m moving around a lot, but it’s not like a holiday or something, it’s my way of life now—i travel, therefore i am.

So i don’t know what to say because it seems sarcastic to say i live in the world, but that’s how i feel.

If i wanted to get really sarcastic i could say, Right now i’m living at Sunay’s breakfast place—later i’ll be living on the ferry to Kadikoy.

But actually this is less sarcastic and more truthful than anything i could say about the places where i sleep at night from day to day, because what’s important is not where you live (what building, what city), but how you live—that you live, and that you live wherever you go.

Advertisements

To Be Coming Home

I have changed my plans again, this time to stay in Greece for a few more months because i have a sense of home here, now. Something shifted when i decided to stay, which wasn’t as much a decision as it was a relinquishment, a letting go of some idea i had about the future.

I was going to Thailand and India via Australia, China, Laos and a few other places in between: back to Australia to get Mulga Bill Massive, my poor neglected touring bike, so i could cycle around in search of another community.

But around the thought of leaving Greece there was a feeling of an anxiety, which fell away when i knew i wouldn’t yet have to go back through Istanbul, Dubai, Adelaide, just to get my bike and ride to Byron or somewhere. I need community, communion, and here i have it, now, so why leave? Leaving a community in Greece to go in search of a community elsewhere is like going into a shop with a dollar and asking to buy a dollar.

When i realised this, the anxiety fell away and relief emerged, bright and luminous as the stars appear to be when you get out of the city for the first time.

Continue reading

Starting to Breathe, Part V

a rambling five-part exploration of how spiritual healing must complement lifestyle changes that will facilitate spiritual healing – Part IV is here

My Program

This thing i call my Program is an attempt at lifestyle design, an accumulation of things i’ve picked up from various approaches to personal development – mostly approaches based on the sort of self-help you find in the chain bookstores and on websites about productivity,

and even as i’ve been mulling over how to explain the Program i’ve been coming to realise that productivity- or achievement-based approaches to personal development are mostly bubkis, fraught with difficulties and maybe even doomed to failure,

tied up with the same old paradigm i am escaping from, a paradigm based on quantifiable outcomes, linear intellectual understanding, materialism and rationality.

For example, i use an iPhone app called Way of Life, a program designed for you to track progress in the formation of new (positive) habits or the dissolution of old (negative) ones.

Way of Life

Continue reading

Starting to Breathe, Part IV

a rambling five-part exploration of how spiritual healing must complement lifestyle changes that will facilitate spiritual healing – Part III is here

The Porn Tangent

It feels like another start because i can’t go back now. I don’t want to just fall back on false resources, smoking and drinking and over-eating and looking at porn. That one’s a big one, and sensitive: my dependence on porn. I actually can’t remember the last time i looked at porn, though i’ve had ample opportunity. I haven’t had the desire. But now, in my currently fragile state, i feel the desire.

But i see it for what it is: a desire to feel some kind of instant pleasure; pretty women are beautiful, and i get pleasure from seeing them with cum on their faces :/ That is perversion, an unnatural desire.

I was positively effected by the TEDx talk below from Ran Gavrieli about how unnatural desire can emerge in us from watching modern porn. As my sexuality burgeoned in my early adolescence i didn’t have this desire. It is a desire that has grown, been unconsciously cultivated, by my exposure to and previously indiscriminate/unaware consumption of whatever porn i could access on the internet, which is mostly cumshots.

.

Continue reading

Starting to Breathe, Part III

a rambling five-part exploration of how spiritual healing must complement lifestyle changes that will facilitate spiritual healing – Part II is here

Turkey

I arrived in December 2013 on a three-week luxury bus tour with my mother. I am still here, seven months later – though i’m writing from Lesvos, a Greek island a few hours off the west coast of Turkey.

Leaving the Eden Hills sanctuary in Australia, i was worried that i would allow myself to be derailed from the progress i was making. So be it: in Istanbul i took up smoking again, stumbled in love and fell, and gradually plummeted back into despair.

I started drinking again, smoking weed … but in a new way. Even in my despair i knew that something had shifted when i was at Eden Hills – something had shifted in me and made way for the growth of self-love, which cannot co-exist with the sort of self-hate that had previously left me seeking oblivion in consumption and other external sources. I had resumed attempting to fill myself up from without, but i was more aware that this was what i was doing.

The relationship broke down as i accepted that external romatic love is just another thing i was eating, trying to fill myself up from without, when what i knew i really needed was a practice to cultivate self-love. We tried to be friends and walked some days on the Lycian Way together, but things broke down further in Kaş and we went our separate ways.

Pained by another cherished friendship jeopardised, i was alone again, and homeless, again. So i walked forth into homelessness and arrived at Çıralı, a lot sad but mostly happy and relieved that my pilgrimage had resumed. Another start.

In Çıralı i met a young Italian woman and an old Turkish man. We communed, and Maddy inspired me to travel back up the west coast to the Mount Ida region, where an Osho festival was being held. We had been talking about our respective practices, and i about how mine had waned. I said i couldn’t get back to Thailand until December, as though my practice is somehow dependent on place, which, to some extent, it is for now – i need/want to be in an environment conducive to meditation and the lifestyle practices that support the inner journey.

I have not yet cultivated enough of an inner sanctuary that will mean i can carry my practice with me wherever i go. Meanwhile i oscillate between strong practice, lackadaisical drifting and binge alcoholism.

Drifting is important, though. I was reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance at the time, which helped me understand that sometimes drifting is a necessary part of our life process. I was drifting when i arrived at Çıralı, and i was drifting as i sat in Yilmaz’s beer garden, talking to Maddy and Özer.

The important thing about drifting is you eventually bump into something. I bumped into Maddy, and i bumped into her reply to my saying i couldn’t be in Thailand until December, which was the simple, profound question: “Why?”, a two-fold question: on the surface it meant Why can’t you go to Thailand now?; underneath it also meant Why can’t you practice now?

There are logistical reasons i can’t be in Thailand now, but there is no reason i can’t practice now.

So i went to the Osho festival, and from there i went to Osho Afroz in Greece. In Turkey we did a lot of daily Osho meditations and group sessions with various therapists, one of whom was Giten, a breathwork and trauma-release specialist.

In Greece we finished an eight-day course in breathwork training.

What i learned in the course is that i do not know how to breathe properly (gasp!); i have almost no inner connection with my body; i have much tension to let go of, and i am learning how to do so with breathing; my chakra system is in a sorry state of disrepair; i am disconnected from my core creative energy; i have many mechanisms for keeping myself separate from this core, from myself, others and the divine love of the universe; i am afraid of how i will feel without these mechanisms.

In the first days of the course i touched a deep sense of peace and joy, but for last days I felt utterly terrible, deeply ashamed.

I have learned that when i connect with and accept the trauma that has lead to the development of such mechanisms i begin to heal, but that healing is often painful. It feels trite to say that we must go through the darkness to get to the light, but i feel that is a fundamental truth of self-healing. As Florence Welch says, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

 

Continue reading

Starting to Breathe, Part II

a rambling five-part exploration of how spiritual healing must complement lifestyle changes that will facilitate spiritual healing – Part I is here

After Southeast Asia

In 2011 i went to Southeast Asia for the same reason millions of other seekers have left the West, disillusioned from a culture that promises meaning in the meaningless: possessions, wealth, material well-being … all of it ephemeral in that mundane way – fleeting, impermanent. I am seeking the everlasting, our spirit.

I went on the uncertain hope that i would be awarded an arts grant that would support me to continue my career while i investigated Buddhism on the side. The grant came through, and i spent eighteen months in Thailand and Cambodia, three months teaching creative writing in Phnom Penh, the rest of the time writing a novel manuscript when i wasn’t struggling against the pull of my old self to escape into the above-mentioned external sources of so-called succour.

I feel like i’ve told this story a thousand and one times, to others and to myself. I don’t want to be my story anymore.

I came back from Thailand an alcoholic, stoned out of my brain. I had done all that i could to make the grant project a success in unfavourable conditions and, by the time i was leaving i finally made my way to a five-day stay in a Chiang Mai monastery.

There, i touched a sense of peace and calm that i hadn’t known existed within me, and that was a start.

Continue reading

Starting to Breathe, Part I

a rambling five-part exploration of how spiritual healing must complement lifestyle changes that will facilitate spiritual healing – the Introduction is here

Fits and Starts

There is a new comb. It can be used without reference to the ‘i’. There was a festival, and there is an OSHO commune on Lesvos, Greece. Here, there and now, there is an alternative way of living. It is the way of light, of love, of uncontrollable and inexplicable laughter: laughter that bubbles up from the well-spring of a healthy spirit.

I have been experimenting with writing without reference to the ‘i’, to the ego, but it is proving difficult – it feels detached from reality, disembodied. Maybe it’s too much for now, because the thing is i’m still attached to my sense of ‘i’, to a sense that things happen to me, or that i do things.

It’s complicated. I’ve been reading Eckhart Tolle again, A New Earth. He has a lot to say about how we invest a sense of self in objects, things, people, whatever – things that ultimately exist outside ourselves, and are not us. And i have obviously been reading and listening to Osho, who has a lot to say about witnessing, about that part of our consciousness that can observe our ego, thereby separating us from what Eckhart would call the mind-made self – a way to start moving toward liberation.

Continue reading

Starting to Breathe, Introduction

a rambling five-part exploration of how spiritual healing must complement lifestyle changes that will facilitate spiritual healing

Introduction

For years now i’ve been implementing lifestyle changes from habits that are bad for me toward a way of being that is most conducive to spiritual progress. To a considerable extent i have succeeded, but sometimes i relapse and binge. Through experiences i’m having lately between an OSHO festival in Turkey and an OSHO commune in Greece, i’m learning that the reason some of these changes don’t stick is i am not focusing on the root cause of these behaviours – i am trying to treat the symptoms of a spiritual malaise rather than working on the wounds and conditioning underlying that malaise.  Continue reading